Falling In Love With "Girls"
The "Girls" Blog - with **Spoilers**
Lena Dunham’s "Girls" has been the target of a plethora of criticism since its debut a month ago, and I’m still trying to understand why. People complain because it’s about entitled white twenty-something girls and that there are no people of color. Um... that’s because it’s about entitled twenty-something white girls! Did anyone complain about "Sex and the City" and the fact that they were all high-income white girls? Or complain about the fact that "The Sopranos" was too much about "the Italians?" Perhaps the show should take place in the South so they don’t feel left out, either!
The criticism against "Girls" seems to be just that. Criticism for criticism sake. For what? For writing about what she knows? Isn’t that the very first rule about writing? Write what you know? Or is it because Dunham is young, smart, and successful which can be threatening to some people.
Whatever the criticism or why it exists is really just moot if you allow yourself to just enjoy it, which is what I have done. I’m not white, straight, or a girl. But I can relate to about 75% of what happens on this show in some way or another and the refreshingly frank way issues about sexuality, emotions, and fears are addressed is downright hilarious.
Episode 4: "Hannah’s Diary"
In Episode 4 entitled "Hannah’s Diary, Hannah (Dunham) gets a text message from her FWB (friend with benefits) Adam which consists of a picture of his penis wrapped in - what appears to be - a squirrel skin. Soon enough she gets another text from him. "It’s probably his asshole wearing a friendship bracelet." Instead it is a confession: "SRY that wasn’t for you."
Further complicating matters is when her new boss Rich (Richard Glatter) gets a bit touchy around the office. Because Hanna’s female co-workers excuse the behavior because he’s "really nice" and gives them presents, she is non-plussed as to what to do. It’s an interesting reaction and speaks to where the woman’s liberation movement has come - or not come - when women are fine with being groped in the office as long as it means they can get away with being late to work or get an iPod for their birthday.
Meanwhile, Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet) runs into Matt (Skylar Astin), an old camp friend, who eventually works his way back to her apartment and potentially into her - uh - virginity. Her reaction to his going down on her (in what is her first time) is priceless. This girl is so naïve, she still talks like a fourteen year old that has to overanalyze everything in her life as if it’s the most important thing in the world. When discussing a text message she rambles: "’Cuz it’s, like, an exclamation point? Next to the ’hi?’ Makes it, like, a little bit overeager, but a period is kind of okay..."
British free-spirit Jessa (Jemima Kirke) continues to work as a babysitter for a busy upper-west side couple with whose husband (James LeGros) she is finding a connection
As for the few male characters, Charlie (Christopher Abbott) and Ray (Alex Karpovsky) find Hannah’s diary while rehearsing for their upcoming gig only to discover a truth that Charlie doesn’t really want to know. And that truth will cause irreparable damage to his relationship with girlfriend Marnie (Allison Williams.)
It was nice to see Hannah attempting to stand up to Adam - explaining what she needs and how she deserves to be treated. While the result of that exchange isn’t what we might hope from her, we understand it. But what she tells him is compelling because it is honest and heartfelt, but still loaded with confusion and contradictions. In other words, it was absolutely real.
Episode 5: "Hard Being Easy"
Episode 5 "Hard Being Easy," opens with Charlie insisting Hannah read her diary entry about his "smothering love" out loud to both him and Marnie. The girls try to make excuses for the entry. Marnie explains, "Those are not my feelings!" To which Charlie replies, "No, they are Hanna’s feelings about your feelings!" When Marnie insists that Hannah wouldn’t know her feelings, he wonders why she would tell an untruth. "It’s a journal! Why would she lie?" In usual fashion, Hannah deflects the conversation with her offense at her notebook being called a journal. "I feel like a journal implies, like, a 13 year-old girl who rides horses and is obsessed with her mom and that’s not what I’m doing..."
Meanwhile, Jessa’s nanny job gets complicated when the wife of the couple (Kathryn Hahn) notices a camaraderie developing between her husband and Jessa. This occurs just as Jessa is getting ready for a date with an old flame that announces he is getting married.
Attempting to figure out what to do, Marnie and Charlie discuss their relationship at his apartment - a place Marnie never bothered to visit and where she realizes that he is actually a person with his own life beyond her. The fact that she only ever saw his kindness toward her - a kindness she found to be annoying - is suddenly replaced by respect.
As usual, Hannah continues to mortify herself by confronting her boss about his touching her in the office by offering to sleep with him. "I am letting you know that it’s okay for you to act on this fantasy, because I am gross. (pause) And so are you."
When he laughs, she threatens to report him to HR and then asks for $1000 to stay quiet. Because he is truly not interested and is sincerely just a touchy guy, he asks her to stay and continue working for him. She is - again - non-plussed. "I just tried to f-you, sue you, and extort you. I’m f***** nuts, why would you want me in your office?" If you haven’t seen the show, this might come across as just angry and mean. But with Dunham’s deadpan and "everything is ludicrous" delivery - it is punch-in-the-stomach funny.
As she storms out, she comes up with this gem: "And someday I’m going to write an essay about you and I’m NOT going to change your name. And then you can sue ME!"
To make matters worse, Hannah goes back to the ever-shirtless Adam as if everything is okay. Unfortunately, he agrees with what she said just the day before; that they’ve outgrown each other. She, on the other hand, assumes the sex they had following her attempt to dump him meant something more than it did.
Hannah: "But then you kissed me."
Adam: "You looked sad."
Hannah: "Then we had sex."
Adam: "Because we were kissing."
When he reminds her that these types of "friendships" have expirations dates, she states: "But I’m having fun. "
To which he responds: "No you’re not. You’re all - secretly sad. And that’s not fun for me."
As harsh as it might seem, this is a very honest statement from Adam who - in his own perverse way - is probably the most confident and self-aware person on the show. That self-assurance only begins to show signs of breaking when he starts to jack off in front of Hannah and the only thing that really starts to get him toward completion is when she starts to verbally abuse him. This surprises Hannah in an amused but grossed-out way.
Only time will tell if she continues to play along. And if she does... what that says about her.
"GIRLS" airs every Sunday at 10:30et/pt on HBO.