Girls Role Play

This week’s installment of “Kate Erbland and Rob Hunter talk  about Girls and mostly agree, except when they really, really don’t” comes to you on a slight delay, as our own Rob Hunter is busy navigating the wilds of the SXSW Film Festival (where, yes, Girls star and creator Lena Dunham got her start and also contributed a keynote speech to this year’s fest, so it kind of works out perfectly). That’s not to say that we were not pumped to talk about “Role-Play,” because we were, but sometimes other movies and breakfast tacos get in the way.

With two episodes left in the HBO series’ third season, it seems that some of our predictions are on their way to coming true — Hannah (Dunham) and Adam (Adam Driver) are bound for some troubles, Jessa (Jemima Kirke) is forced to grapple with her problems, and Marnie (Allison Williams) just can’t shake her attempts at a music career — with some new twists along the way. In “Role-Play,” Hannah tries to spice up the couple’s sex life with some, well, role play, which ends in a most unexpected way — with Adam moving out (temporarily?) to focus on his Broadway debut. Elsewhere, Shosh (Zosia Mamet) stages an intervention for Jessa, and Marnie continues to croon jams at a guy who apparently has a girlfriend named “Clementine.”

Kate: Halfway through this episode, I was ready to hail it as one of the most well-balanced of the season, one peppered with equal parts Hannah & Adam, Marnie & her dumb beanie, and Shosh & Jessa, but that crumbled in the episode’s final act (in a good way!) — yet, let’s explore a little bit about the pleasures of meting out equal time in Girls. We’ve already agreed that the show is at its best when everyone is together, but it’s also very good like this, digging very deeply into everyone (or, as the case may be, each couple) and what is consuming their lives at the time – how do you feel about slicing up the Girls’ pie so we the players get equal pieces?

Rob: We agree on this one, at least so far, in that the episode works because we spend time with each of them. More than that though, it’s quality time. Each of them are dealing with dramatic turning points in their worlds, and they’re all far more engaging when we see them dealing with more than just punchlines. You know my stance on Shosh and Jessa, and while this isn’t enough to make me do a 180 degree turn on either of them I did find myself interested and tuned in to their story for the first time in what feels like a long time.

Let’s start with Jessa. Do you think her acknowledging that she’s a junkie is a step in the right direction? Or is it little more than a brief moment of lucidity?

Kate: I think it’s funny/strange/sad that the season started with Jessa in rehab and will likely also end there. Jessa’s first rehab stint was a weird one — it was sort of as if everyone decided that drugs were her problem, when the actual problem was that she was an asshole who also happened to do drugs — and now, oops!, drugs are actually her problem. Jessa’s admission that she is indeed a junkie is a good step towards some kind of positive change — it’s certainly better than her not admitting it — but I am worried that her current support system is basically just Shosh, who has reached the end of her rope. Hannah and Marnie aren’t really that present in her life, and although they could be rallied to help, Jessa needs more. Cue the arrival of a previously unknown older brother?

Rob: Anything’s possible, but I would expect the show would have the girls rallying around their friend rather than a complete stranger. Regardless of all the side plots and distractions, the series is still the story of four friends who yes, go their own way throughout, but I expect that if one of them was in trouble the other three would drop everything. Granted, it might take something truly serious for that to happen, but I like to think they would be there for her. But will that be the big season-ending drama? Or will something/someone else crack beforehand?

Kate: Jessa does tend to get the best season-ending cliffhangers — the wedding! the Hannah abandonment! the Handonment? — so I suspect we might see the same thing happen at the end of the third season. Does that mean that next week’s episode will include a richer exploration of the havoc of Jessa’s life before the season finale? Eh, maybe, but as long as I get to see Shoshanna look as if she’s watching both an absurd soap opera and the most dramatic life machinations ever, I am sold. More Shosh acting like this, please! More Shosh being a grown up! Less bad sex!

That said, can we talk about Shosh’s hair this week? That was the most complicated look yet.

Rob: Shosh owned that dinner scene, and that’s an impressive feat seeing as she was arguably the least relevant person at the table. But between her reaction shots, insistence that she was helping these losers, and that Road Warrior-like hairdo she was clearly the highlight.

It’s possible they’ll pull a bait ‘n’ switch too, and deal with Jessa’s drug issue next week and save the finale for a Hannah/Adam blow-out. This wouldn’t work if they went all out with an overdose, but I can easily see an episode giving time to Jessa acknowledging she has an issue and voluntarily checking in to rehab with her friends’ support.

Kate: Perhaps a rehab where damaged old men can’t get at her and exploit both of their issues! Dare to dream.

Before we dig in on Hannah and Adam, let’s spend some time with your lady love, Marnie, who made her own follicle mistakes this week (that beanie). Marnie spent this episode fulfilling some big dreams (at least, our dreams) — heading to Soo-jin’s child prodigy art gallery (child prodigy in terms of Soo-jin, though I’d love if that was her actual angle with artists) to find work and hitting up Strummy McWhatshisname. What was more shocking to you — that Marnie is still trying to make a go of the singing (even if it’s as a tool to get some play) or that his girlfriend is actually named Clementine?

Rob: I usually hate those beanies, but Marnie makes it work! But yeah, I’m still not convinced this music thing is going to get her anywhere besides Strummy’s bed. Is he playing her? Is Clementine real? I’m not sure what to make of his intentions, but the only guarantee is that her music won’t go anywhere. And does anyone think working for Soo-jin is going to go smoothly? Marnie may be quitting before the season’s over.

Girls Role Play

Kate: I just fail to understand the pairing of a winter accessory with a summer outfit. She was wearing shorts, for chrissakes!

The idea that Clementine is not real, but a romantic ruse to rile Marnie up to sexual insanity, is now my new favorite Girlstheory. Well-played. Literally?

Look, working for Soo-jin (as her assistant, no less!) sounds absolutely horrible, but it might also be just the thing to put Marnie in her place. She’s so convinced that BIG PEOPLE! FAMOUS PEOPLE! want her (or, at least she’s willing to yell these things out in public places) that it might help to be reminded that she really hasn’t accomplished anything in her chosen profession so far. She needs to start at the bottom.

Rob: Completely agree that she needs to start at the bottom, but I don’t think she sees it that way. It won’t help that Soo-jin isn’t going to make it easy for her, but if Marnie can stick it out and suck it up she just may find a real career. And by that I mean she probably won’t succeed at any of these things. As with the other girls of Girls (and many people in general), Marnie’s her own worst enemy. And while I can see her and Strummy making the sexy time we all know the two are not compatible in the long term.

Kate: Their love song will be short, but sweet.

Alright, let’s go at it. Hannah and Adam. First of all, should we be worried about Hannah’s drinking? Second of all, should we be worried about showering coworker? Third of all, should we be worried that Adam was not worried at all?

Rob: First, Hannah’s drinking seems to have been more of a one-off incident in order to introduce your next two questions, so I say we don’t need to worry about a re-occurrence there. Second, the co-worker business is potential trouble. She kissed one guy on the lips and let another bathe her in her underwear, so clearly she’s not the most in-control drunk. There’s always the possibility that something romantic could develop there, but I had assumed the bigger issue would be Adam’s jealousy leading to a brawl or embarrassing incident at the office. Which brings me to your third point. For as deep as Adam is he’s also incredibly simple. He has a singular focus, and for so long that’s been Hannah. But what if acting is able to replace her in his head/heart? His decision to stay elsewhere during rehearsals felt abrupt, especially as he clearly had already put those plans in motion before his and Hannah’s poorly executed date night.

Kate: I agree that this drinking is a one-off, though I was slightly concerned that it would be like the OCD reveal — what, you didn’t realize that Hannah was a drunk this whole time? — and that it will now drive other points.

Adam seems to have one foot out the door, and that’s incredibly sad to see, especially now that I’ve finally warmed to their relationship. Hannah’s concerns about their sex life are relatable and valid, and her desire to reignite the spark is charming, if poorly thought out. But the kicker of this episode was the moment that Adam didn’t stand up for her at rehearsal, mumbling her off and acting (ha! acting!) as if he had never invited her and she was just being a weirdo. That was wrenching, and the fact that Hannah then tried to turn that around into a positive thing — that deranged date — was touching. I would have expected her to just go bonkers.

Rob: Good point on the OCD comparison, but let’s hope they don’t go that route.

Adam’s departure from Hannah’s life would definitely be sad, but I feel like it’s been coming for a while. We’ve talked the past few weeks about them splitting and even mentioned the acting as being a major factor in the break-up, so it won’t be a surprise. Of course Hannah’s concerns over their sex life are legitimate, but two things about it seem odd. First, I don’t like when we’re told out of the blue about some issue that’s been supposedly going on for a while. We had no hint of this so it seems like an afterthought. Second, unless I misunderstood, they’ve still been having sex… it just wasn’t the rough and tumble and messy and crude kind that marked the early days of their relationship. Maybe that’s shorthand for Hannah feeling their sex life has become more impersonal, but it sounds like she’s just not getting the kink she’s used to.

Kate: Yes, this “our sex isn’t wild anymore!” thing came out of nowhere, but I understand Hannah’s concerns with it — I think she feels like Adam might be bored with her and is thus not dedicating himself to more, ahem, creative sex. It’s not the sex, though, I think she was just looking for something to take issue with because she feels as if things are vaguely off-track. Saying “this is not how it was” is an easy point to make, instead of being like “this feels weird now because of your job.”

Girls Role Play

Rob: Agreed. I’m wondering if this isn’t a case where both parties are drifting apart and simply finding scapegoats in each other. Adam’s been less keen on Hannah’s selfishness lately, and Hannah had the bug put in her ear by her mother that Adam’s not right for her. It’s possible both Hannah and Adam have already decided this isn’t going to work and have started actively moving toward an end by blaming the other person. Relationships have fallen apart over far less substantial issues.

Kate: And the fact that this season’s finale episode is titled “Two Plane Rides” seems to drive home that possibility of separation.

Rob: Ah, well that raises the question then as to which two characters are going on plane rides. I can see Hannah maybe just taking off to get away from it all, maybe a writing gig in LA? Which raises another question, could Girls work outside of NYC? I doubt they’d relocate the show, but that would be an interesting change to shift Hannah someplace where she has to start again.

Kate: Now that’s an idea! But I’m sure that we would have heard about such a sea change already.

Rob: Very true. And this is off topic, but I miss the days where we didn’t know so much in advance about shows, from locations to guest stars and such. Maybe Hannah heads to LA in the finale but returns first episode of next season a changed woman. Who do you think is taking these flights? Jessa wouldn’t fly to rehab, Adam’s too busy on stage for trips…maybe against all rules of logic and musical taste Marnie gets called to LA to record a demo?

Kate: I’m down for a road trip, but the show needs to stay rooted in Brooklyntown.

Rob: Yeah, that’s probably true. It’s probably my urge to get some new and better regulars into the show in exchange for Jessa and Shosh. But fine, fine, we’ll stay in Brooklyn with the girls of Girls.


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