Girls Talk: The Time is Right For Pissing in the Street

By  · Published on January 27th, 2015

Girls Female Author

HBO

Normally Kate and Rob would be discussing the finer points of this blunt episode of Girls, but since they’re at Sundance, I have the privilege, and because I don’t want to ruin the format of their feature, I’m going to have a conversation about the episode despite being only one person. Hopefully it gets confusing.

Fortunately, “Female Author” was ridiculously straightforward. Jessa and Adam bonded over the coffee machine at AA, Marnie and Desi struggle with creative success and romantic failure, Hannah becomes the truth-teller of her writing workshop and Shoshana goes through a completely unnecessary job interview.

Overall, it felt like a filler episode, catching up with everyone in transition without showing any great action – granted, the show has dealt fairly casually even with the aftermath of large dramatic swings, too, but this episode felt especially like it was coasting. That’s not automatically a bad thing, especially for a show that doesn’t often catch its own breath, but let’s get to the conversation.

Scott: This episode dealt almost exclusively in big ideas, but before we talk about that, we have to talk about the absurdity of Jessa being arrested (“Don’t resist!”) by a black cop and later calling it “Stop and Frisk” because she’s a solipsistic moron.

Scott: I’ll agree that the optics were bad on that one, but you have to look at it as a comedic overkill. Maybe even satire. Jessa is a horrible person, sober or not, and we get a strident display of that when she pees (weirdly) into the street and then tries to claim that she’s somehow being oppressed.

Scott: That’s bogus. Making the cop black felt like one of those TV decisions where reality can’t be too strong. Call it bad timing if you have to, but after a year where police brutality was given a national face, and people were shouting in the streets, it’s jaw-droppingly tone deaf to feature a scene like this and top it off with the voice of reason saying, “You don’t resist arrest.” It smacked of apologia for harassment shoved into the show and then under the rug.

Scott: Sorry, the whole thing is too ridiculous, and Jessa is too tragically horrible to take any of that seriously. She’s an idiot who doesn’t think any rules apply to her who gets a reality check on how much they genuinely do. My only issue was that Ray bailed them out. It was interesting to see Jessa show some vulnerability and admit she needs Adam as a friend, but the whole thing might have been appropriately harsher had Ray left her, but not Adam, in the drunk tank to rot a while.

Scott: Agreed on that. Can we get the Shosh job interview scene out of the way?

Scott: Mildly funny filler.

Scott: Yup. Moving on, the most interesting aspect of the show for a while has been Marnie and the juxtaposition of her brightness and stupidity. Her talent and her blind spots.

Scott: Usually meaning men.

Scott: Right. Now we have a situation where she’s the mistress and collaborator, and there’s an underlying sense there, again, that she can’t thrive on her own. She has to have a person beside her – specifically a man – to help convert her talent into success. I know that Girls is almost completely uninterested in showing growth and traditional character arcs, but I can’t help but wonder if the end game for Marnie in Season 10 (or whatever) is that she defines and attains independence for herself.

Scott: I doubt that, mostly because the show thrives on bad decisions and bad influences.

Scott: But if there’s one character that could escape the cycle, it’s Marnie. Maybe even with this storyline. It’s still early in the season, and she could make the right call regarding Desi which would break them up creatively (since the production seems to have cribbed a lot from The Civil Wars already) and lead to Marnie striking out on her own. Does she get a record deal? Does she fail miserably? It won’t matter either way because she will have done it by herself and under her own terms.

To that end, I loved the speech from Ray pushing back directly against the fairy tale concept of a guy riding up on a white steed with a Grand Romantic Gesture. Don’t fall for it, don’t melt into his arms because he’s a dick regardless of how many roses he bought. It’s the day to day reality you measure by, not how loud someone shouts their love for you at the airport. Marnie looks like she’s getting that message and may make the right call.

Scott: That won’t happen until the very last episode of the very last season. If at all.

Scott: At least not for Hannah, who will be perpetually falling off the edge of couches.

Scott: Yeah. This episode is par for the course but still quirky in how it positions her as the arbiter of straight talk. That speech on the sofa is a bold one (if only because it isolates her further from a group of people who won’t matter in a few months), but the far more debilitating question of her time at the writer’s workshop is the plague of having the freedom to realize you aren’t that interested in the thing you love. The thing you define yourself by.

Scott: Elijah makes a good court jester spewing wisdom there. Even as he’s saying stupid, drugged-up party things, he’s still able to assure Hannah that it can be a relief to stop forcing a label on yourself (“But I’m a writer!”). That old, worn out saying applies here in reverse: if you wake up, and all you can think about is writing, then you’re a writer (altered slightly from Sister Act, sorry). Don’t ever feel like writing? Then you’re not as interested or passionate as you want to think. Sticking feathers up your butt, and all.

Hannah doesn’t wake up and do the hard work of writing, and probably never has. Yet still imagine how impossible it can be to let go of something like that – something that feels like your dream, even if you’re only in lust with the surface level trappings that come with it.

Scott: What would happen if you turned the camera around?

Scott: You’d get really good range with that selfie stick.

Scott: Obviously her leg-spread couch retreat was played for laughs, and her truth-to-power moment was clouded by her own personality, but it ultimately seemed less about calling out stereotypes and more about recognizing that being honest with your art requires being honest with yourself. All of those writers fall into some easily defined category because their trails were blazed by previous profit. They’ve learned who they are through literature, not life.

Scott: Or at least we think that because we’ve gotten to spend 40 minutes with them.

Scott: Right. But the accusation still holds. Stop pretending to be other writers. Either Hannah will push that charge on herself and become the best writer in the group, or she’ll recognize that it’s not at all what she wants to do and let the albatross dream job fall.

Scott: Or she’ll continue being self-delusional and Googling celebrity trivia while complaining about not being a successful writer.

Scott: Or she’ll end up dating the Mennonite man who drives her away from the party.

Scott: Season Five will be insane.

Related Topics:

Movie stuff at VanityFair, Thrillist, IndieWire, Film School Rejects, and The Broken Projector [email protected] | Writing short stories at Adventitious.