It’s only appropriate on the morning after Lena Dunham‘s Girls picked up two Golden Globes and the HBO series debuted its second season opener that Rob Hunter and I unveil our new Girls column. And, here it is! Just kidding (only sort of). In this new feature, Rob and I will break down the latest episodes of the scripted hit and then talk about them via email for as long as we can stand talking to each other about a scripted television show via email.
We know you can’t wait to get inside our heads when it comes to half-hour series about unhappy twentysomething scraping by in the far reaches of Brooklyn, and we can’t wait to hear your thoughts on this new feature. Much like a still-blossoming Brooklyn twentysomething, this column is still in development, and we appreciate any feedback, hate mail, and demands you feel like sending our way. Or cake. We like cake, too.
Without further ado, after the break, Rob and I share our thoughts on the first season, recap some of our favorite bits from last night’s episode, and get deep about Adam finally getting honest.
Kate: I’ve made no bones about my affection for Girls. Whereas I wasn’t a huge fan of Tiny Furniture right off the bat, Girls won me over almost instantly. I get that the show can be perceived as an insular experience – after all, I don’t expect middle-aged men who live in Cincinnati or similar to identify with Hannah, Marnie, Jessa, and Shoshanna – but I think that Dunham has a tremendous knack for writing stuff that looks, feels, and tastes true, and that’s something that I hope other people can grow to appreciate.
I adored the first season of Girls for many reasons – the genius development of Hannah and Adam’s wacko relationship, the evolution of Shoshanna, hating Marnie but being unable to look away from her, Jemima Kirke’s hair and jumpsuits – but I mainly appreciated it as stage-setting. There’s a lot on the horizon for the four ladies (and their often-maligned paramours), but those first ten episodes were essential to getting to know the characters and to getting invested in what’s coming up next.
The first season of Girls made me both laugh and cringe on first watch, but subsequent re-watches have increased its emotional resonance for me (is there anything sadder than watching Marnie and Hannah happily dance around to a Robyn jam, content in their best friendship, knowing that in just mere weeks they’ll be screaming and throwing toothbrushes at each other? I say nay). Here’s to hoping that the second season can do that, too.
Rob: I’ve also been boneless when it comes to Lena Dunham and Girls, but I have to assume it’s for an entirely different reason. But on a more appropriate note, the show’s first season was a rare one in its ability to turn around my perceptions from the first episode through to the last. If a series doesn’t hook me within a few episodes I’ll usually walk away, but something about these characters, Dunham’s forceful personality and a certain male character compelled me to keep watching.
I approached the show cautiously at first seeing it as a simple updating of Sex & the City, a show that no matter how many episodes I happened to see was never even the slightest bit appealing or entertaining. It didn’t take long for me to acknowledge that the similarities were surface level only, but that still left me with four women with extremely limited (or in some cases non-existent) appeal. Hannah was unlikeable in every way, Marnie was cute but bland, and both Shoshanna and Jessa were quirky but limited to second-string status.
But just when I was considering dropping the show something happened that hooked me. Hannah’s boyfriend Adam was allowed to grow beyond being simply the asshole in her life to someone who spouted gut-busting and honest dialogue. I stuck it out with him as my reason to watch, and I’m glad I did as the show matured over the remaining episodes into a funny, awkward and truthful look into these girls’ lives. By season’s end Marnie had become my favorite, Shoshanna had become the funniest of the four, Jessa seemed to recede even further into the background and Hannah was still the least appealing character to ever appear on television. Ever. Here’s hoping she talks less and wears better (and more) clothes in season two!
Kate: Which brings us to season two!
When we check in with our girls, it’s mere weeks after the first season ended with Jessa and Thomas John’s wacky wedding (who among us has not dreamed of a wedding ceremony that ends with Lady’s song “Yankin” blaringly informing us that “This pussy be yankin, I know this pussy be yankin”?), weeks after Marnie made out with Bobby Moynihan of all people, weeks after Adam professed his love and promptly got run over by a truck (literal and metaphorical), and weeks after Shosh gave it up to Ray. And what exactly has changed? Everything. And nothing.
Hannah thinks she has the world on a string because she gets to make out with Donald Glover and she gets to live with her gay ex-boyfriend and gets to work in a coffee shop – but she still has to take care of broken-legged and bedridden Adam, who threatens to be more in love with her than ever. Marnie’s life continues to spiral downward, thanks to a snappy firing and an ill-advised roll on the couch with the worst partner imaginable, Shosh is apparently broken-hearted that an enamored Ray did exactly what she asked him to do (hit it and quit it), and Jessa continues to embrace terrible hairstyles. When will they ever learn?
Rob: If they’re anything like real girls they’ll never learn. I kid, and I digress. Shoshanna and Jessa remain background material, and while I understand the difficulty of squeezing four main plot threads into a thirty minute show the result is that sometimes I’d rather see them eliminated all together so more time can be spent with Marnie. Is that so wrong? We know Jessa’s sham marriage won’t last, but do we care (aside from the fact that we’d have to say goodbye to Chris O’Dowd)? Shoshanna can stay because she remains the funniest, albeit least believable character here, but something meatier should come her way.
The two real leads here, Marnie and Hannah, continue where they left off last season too. Which means yes, Marnie remains my favorite of the girls. Sure she’s visually attractive, but as someone on friendly terms with almost all of my ex-girlfriends I find her to be the most realistic and fully formed one here. She’s spiraling, but her awareness of it is believable and affecting. Hannah by contrast remains an emotional (and yes physical) lump who inexplicably has attracted the attention of a new guy. I love Donald Glover, but I would have liked to see the courtship that led to him finding her so appealing. Adam’s affection makes sense given his behavior and character, but what does this guy see in her? Because whatever it is it sure hasn’t been visible in any of the episodes.
Kate: It’s so funny that I feel like we’re at total odds here. Well, maybe. I don’t like Marnie as a person and I never have, but she’s long been the most fully-formed and realistic character on the show to me as well. And, while I don’t like her, I like watching her, mainly because I think I’m convinced that she stands the greatest chance of actually getting her shit together in a real way and becoming a “real” person. And, you’re right, Marnie has a much better grasp on her shitty life state than Hannah does on hers. Wait, maybe we are agreeing here. What?
Hannah. Observations about her appearance aside (something I hate and, really, something I find insane because Dunham has such a real world body and I wish that wasn’t something we all have to balk at seeing on our screens, but anyway), I really wonder why anyone finds her appealing. And I don’t mean that in a snarky or mean way – I really wonder what Hannah looks like to other people. What did she present to Donald Glover’s Sandy that he is so into? Does he just know her has “Funny Writer Girl at a Coffee Shop That I Like”? Because that would be an understandable attraction. So often, it’s easy to get hung up on Hannah being unappealing because we see so much of her – the stuff that Sandy doesn’t see, or Adam doesn’t see, or even that Marnie doesn’t see. It’s like we’re always reading her diary (thanks, Ray), and that sort of access can only breed terror. Probably.
Also, Thomas John is still such an asshole.
Rob: I feel like our cycles have gotten into sync, and it’s a beautiful thing. Agree completely on Marnie, but one thing I forgot to mention regarding her aborted couch sex with Elijah. The scene itself works wonderfully, but the blocking used to cover Allison Williams’ boobs was distracting. While watching it frame by frame I was impressed and confounded in the show’s and her efforts to conceal her nipples. It’s fine if she doesn’t want to show them, and I’m sure Brian agrees, but her hand, hair and arm placement alongside the jumpy editing distract from the scene as a whole. Just saying.
And Hannah, poor Hannah. Let me be clear that I wasn’t (and won’t be) dumping on her body per se when I reference the physical. This will probably make little sense, but personality goes a long way towards making or breaking someone’s physical appearance. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with Hannah’s body, but the character is unattractive… and that makes her physically unappealing too. A casual aloofness about your appearance is fine, but the lack of care is not.
Kate: I mean, geez, Williams, if you don’t want to show off the girls, just keep your bra on. It’s cool. We’ve all been there. (No, seriously, remember how Sarah Jessica Parker wouldn’t take her bra off during SATC? This is well-tread territory and it’s totally okay.)
Oh, Hunter, I should have known. You’re a god amongst men. And I do agree with your assessment of Hannah’s overall look – it ain’t great. Not only are her outfits not (nor have they ever been) flattering, she’s also not doing herself any favors with her makeup and, I’m sorry, was that a baby barrette? And, yes, she’s still pulling some pretty nice man tail, so maybe she doesn’t need to change her style. It’s apparently working for her.
And, speaking of those dudes, how heartbreaking was Adam in this episode? From his “have you ever known someone this well?” to his “I don’t know how to behave without you,” he was finally saying all the stuff Hannah used to want to hear, and she didn’t care, but our hearts crumbled more every minute. Wrenching.
Rob: Adam remains the best thing about this show. It’s funny because while I believe Dunham is writing her females honestly, I know she’s writing her males pretty damn perfectly. Aside from the new guy’s inexplicable attraction to Hannah of course.
And maybe that’s just one more reason I dislike Hannah…she did want to hear this stuff from Adam, but he was very clear about his stance on love and relationships. He doesn’t rush in, but when he’s ready he gives it his all. Hannah could learn a lot from him, but as we already discussed the odds of her learning anything are mighty slim. He’s better off without her manufactured drama and cookie crumb-filled bed sheets, but it’s painful to see his heart suffering even as his leg is healing.
Kate: And that seems like a good a point to stop as any – what do we expect Hannah and the rest of the ladies to learn this season? And what do we want them to learn?
Rob: I want Hannah to learn self-respect, Shoshanna to learn about eyebrow waxing, Jessa to learn her husband’s address and Marnie to learn mine.
Kate: I want Hannah to learn how to accept love, Shoshanna to learn about when exactly tiny hats are okay to wear (answer: never), Jessa to learn that emulating Bo Derek is dumb, and Marnie to learn to keep it in her pants.
Rob: Sounds like we agree except I’d rather Marnie learn to keep it in my pants. Bring on episode two!
Kate: We’ll talk less next time.
Looking for more good Girls stuff? Be sure to check out Miss Britt Hayes’ Girls Talk over on ScreenCrush, where some of your very favorite Rejects (fine, it’s me and Allison) weigh in about the newest episodes and some of their most provocative talking points.