Hannah has a new writing job and before she even hears about the free snacks perks she, not unlike so many of us when we got our first adult job, has the glimmer of hope in her eye, the buoyancy of someone who sees nothing but great things in her future, and the belief that things are really about to turn around after the disappointment of her e-book. The ever-so-intuitive Ray senses Hannah’s optimism and anticipates her coffee shop resignation, immediately belittling her new position in advertorial at GQ. Like a bitter ex-boyfriend, he tells her that she’ll be back.
There are times when I appreciate Ray’s increasingly acrimonious front that can act as a swift kick back to reality for some of the characters on this show, but Ray’s feelings of inadequacy are so obviously the catalyst for this and seeing him quickly pounce on Hannah’s excitement is a gross display of Ray’s rudeness. Interestingly enough I thoroughly enjoy Ray’s brand of rude with Marnie, which I’ll get to later.
We’re now well into season three and, for the first time, are witnessing Hannah as a real working adult with a job that’s viewed more as a career than simply something that allows her to pay her rent and supplement her romper budget. It seems as if it could catapult her into a career that’s satisfying and doesn’t make her dread getting out of bed in the morning, going through the entire day in emotional and physical pain over an unfulfilled life that she feels she doesn’t deserve. As we get older we learn that what we deserve, what we need, and what we ultimately get is never as simple as we would like it to be. It’s a lesson that can be entirely demoralizing and painful. Throughout “Free Snacks” we see the Girls’ protagonists struggle with this – except for Jessa who is selling black christening gowns to yoga moms because of course she is.
Shoshanna’s mere presence makes me sad. She believes that she has let herself get out of control and is now making a concerted effort to regain some of that. She’s still keeping tabs on Ray, watching him play basketball but refusing to respond to his head nod of acknowledgment, and walking around with a write-up of his new coffee shop that she’s committed to memory. On paper Ray is doing well, which triggers Shoshanna’s own insecurities and leads her to focus most of her effort on finding a relationship with someone else. She’s not so particular about who this someone else is and settles on a dumdum of a jump off after essentially interviewing him for the position in the school library. She continues to exert her control, later setting relationship ground rules as he’s literally inside of her. Half of me wants Shoshanna to get her shit together and for her and Ray to somehow make amends, but the other half of me will not allow this to happen because sweet baby Jesus am I loving Ray and Marnie together.
These two are absolutely ridiculous. It should not work. And yet somehow this is the most fascinating and captivating relationship we have seen in the entirety of Girls. When Ray makes his awkward phone call to Marnie I initially assumed that he’s checking in to see if she’s told anyone about their hook-up, Shoshanna in particular, but when he shows up at her apartment bearing vegan muffins and an offer to watch trashy reality television with her it becomes clear that Ray is just lonely – and so is Marnie. These two lonely assholes have found their matching pieces. They are sleeping together, going out for Chinese food, and fighting like a miserable married couple in the span of five minutes. They’re hilariously rude to one another, calling each other out for nearly every personality flaw that the audience has already yelled profusely about, and it is absurd in the best way possible. They are dating and I don’t want this sexual healing to end despite how not-sexy that sex scene was.
It’s also interesting that Shoshanna and Ray are dealing with their separation in a very similar manner. They’re both searching for ways to fill the void left by the other and are desperately scrambling to do so, but while Ray acknowledges what Marnie’s place is in his life, looking her plainly in the face and saying that he doesn’t have anyone, Shoshanna’s lack of self-awareness prohibits her from seeing that she’s cracking and this new dude isn’t going to put her back together.
Adam’s incredibly supportive of Hannah’s new opportunity and is using her time away to go on auditions of his own but he sees the entire process as bullshit, telling Hannah that the only reason he shows up is because he likes “reading emotional cues from strangers in a high-pressure situation.” But he’d rather be selling his weird shit on Etsy than doing the dance-monkey-dance for casting directors. His inability to give a shit, or rather his inability to let anyone know that he gives all of the shits, lands him a callback and he’s surprisingly excited for someone who’s bored by the whole thing. While Adam celebrates his own success and wants to share this with Hannah she’s evaluating how to create her own, shocked by the realization that being a writer doesn’t necessarily mean being the writer that she envisions.
It’s humbling to witness the quick rise and fall of Hannah at GQ. She immediately finds a confidante in fellow advertorial writer Joe and she thrives in a meeting like the smart kid you hate but secretly want to be on the first day of school. Hannah pitches the best ideas and is so good that she develops a rival in the brooding poet Kevin who simply tells her that he doesn’t like her face. The other members of the team offer support and suggest that she could take over the boss’ job if she wanted to. But she doesn’t want to. And Hannah’s realization that this new job may not be the starting off point that she thought it was sends her crying to the bathroom. It’s the realization that so many writers face and it’s a scene that made me sympathy panic. You write because you have to, because it’s in you like a nervous tic, because you would die if you couldn’t and you swear that you’re not being hyperbolic. But you also have to keep yourself alive and writing what you want to write so often doesn’t do that. Hannah’s meager attempt at standing her ground and quitting scares her a bit because no one cares; she is easily replaceable. Now she needs to just dedicate her nights and weekends to writing things that she cares about because you guys, Hannah Horvath is just like us.