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So much of this season has focused on Hannah and Adam’s relationship and Hannah having to deal with her changing role in his life and, most importantly, whether or not this change was real or imagined, that going into last night’s finale I initially thought that it would seem unfair to see any of this unresolved. Yet it’s the understanding that we are all complex and strange and that hardly anything ever gets resolved in the way that we would like it to is what Lena Dunham has been so good at with Girls. Watching Hannah and Adam’s relationship progress and wondering how they’re going to make it work, or if they should even try at all, has been altogether satisfying when Hannah’s juvenile behavior wasn’t making me want to rip my hair out. There are also other relationships to tend to, however, and a return to a more lateral focus on the lives of our other protagonists was a satisfying way to close out the season.

Shoshanna’s self-proclaimed “year of freedom” has caught up to her and a failed glaciology class is prohibiting her from graduating. It’s a shock for Shoshanna, who has been so meticulous in setting a timeline of goals for her life, to see one of her plans go incomplete and being unable to control it. The weight of this is made even more unbearable by Marnie’s big dumb idiot butt waltzing in and deciding that this is a good time to tell Shoshanna that she slept with Ray – several times, but not before turning Shoshanna’s news about failing out into something about herself. I admit to standing up and clapping when Shoshanna pinned Marnie to her bed and screamed, “I hate you!” in her face. And this is maybe the least offensive thing that Marnie does all episode. Almost immediately after telling Hannah that she doesn’t respect other women’s “emotional property,” Marnie busts into Desi’s dressing room, gifts him with James Taylor’s guitar pick, and then makes out with him. She later says that she wasn’t expecting it even though we all know that she walked in there with that exact intention in mind. Marnie is unequivocally the worst. And so it is so, so, so sweet and beautiful when Marnie meets Clementine in the bathroom and Clementine delivers a verbal bitch smack worthy of another standing ovation. Someone is finally calling Marnie on her bullshit and there are few things I love more than an emphatic, “Shut the fuck up.” Clementine, a true classy lady, compliments Marnie’s dress on her way out as Marnie is left alone in tears. It’s perfect. But Marnie proves to be a fucking creep and later hovers outside a bar like a masturbating pervert as Desi and Clementine argue, presumably about her. This woman is a sociopath and likes to watch the havoc that she wreaks unfold. It is terrifying.

For Shoshanna, she’s left to consider what her options are and unfortunately believes that her first and best move is to try to get Ray back. It’s upsetting to watch because it’s clear that this is not necessarily about Ray, and Ray knows that. Shoshanna’s attempting to put back the pieces of her life she feels she lost this past year by returning to Ray, their relationship being the signifier of when her life made sense. But Shoshanna is a smart girl and my wish for her in season four is for her to use this as an opportunity to figure out what she really wants – to grow up, and to realize her worth.

In perhaps the most poignant and concise story line of season three, Jessa is asked to get drugs for her new employer Beattie, not for the anticipated high one typically expects from such requests, but to assist in her suicide. As the two unique but similar women sit and discuss this situation in a manner so casual they could be making lunch plans, Beattie tells Jessa, “You know I wake up everyday disappointed that I didn’t die in the night.” It’s an overwhelmingly sad moment and yet I saw it as an empowering one for Beattie – she’s lived the life she’s wanted to live and now she wants to be the one who controls how it ends. Jessa obliges because she understands this woman in ways so many people likely haven’t and because Beattie chose her for this very reason. Beattie lies in her bed looking fragile yet at peace with Jessa by her side and for a few moments we think that this is how she is going to die. When Beattie frantically changes her mind and tells Jessa to call 911 we realize that maybe even a woman so sure of herself as Beattie isn’t so sure – that we are each so very intricate and that life almost always has more to offer us than we are capable of seeing.

And that brings us back to Hannah, who has been accepted into the prestigious Iowa Writers’ Workshop and whose reaction to the news is the most sincerely excited and proud that we have seen of her thus far. She calls her parents, unsure if she should take this opportunity because of the life that she has made for herself in New York, who tell her that of course the thing to do is to say yes, and then figure it out. It’s understandable why Hannah chose to tell Adam in his dressing room before opening night of Major Barbara, a moment that we know is so important to him – it’s exciting! – but it’s also frustrating to watch Hannah continue to ignore Adam’s boundaries. “It’s made me want to find a hole in the world in the shape of me and just fill it up,” she tells him after a heartfelt speech about how his artistic accomplishments have motivated her. Adam understands this and appears excited for her and a part of me believes that he truly is, but then Adam has to sit on this information immediately before one of the biggest days of his life and it gives him time to grow angry about how Hannah insists on disregarding his needs in favor of her own. She is difficult and now that Adam has his own life and career and wants and goals for the future it’s harder for him to give Hannah the attention that she requires to be happy in this relationship. They fight and Hannah returns to apartment that Adam has been absent from and clutches the acceptance letter from Iowa to her chest, leading us to believe that she’s saying yes. And she’s going to figure it out.

In a nice way to tie up the season we find out that Caroline has been living with Laird and delivers the news that she’s pregnant to Hannah as they both retrieve their mail. It’s a clever, awkward, brilliantly acted by Gaby Hoffmann scene and because it’s Caroline, I have no idea how much of it is true, but I kind of hope that all of it is. Those two would be wonderful together.

Guest Post: Elaine Paddock is a writer in Boston.

Hannah isn’t handling the new arrangement in her relationship well and it’s made even worse by Adam’s wavering on how long it’s going to last. It’s both her insecurity and her self-centeredness that isn’t allowing her to understand why Adam needs this time away from her. He now has two roles that are new to him – literally as a character on Broadway and also as someone with a passion and career that he really cares about. He’s taking both very seriously in a way that we, Hannah included, haven’t seen before. She’s coming to terms with the fact that Adam doesn’t need her in the way that he used to and that his Hannah-focused life that we’ve come to know for the majority of this season has altered. He now has something else that fills him up and despite how little Adam’s need for solitude has to do with her specifically, him leaving the apartment they have shared so quickly post-orgasm makes it’s hard for Hannah not to take it personally. She shows up at Ray’s in a state of panic, “I feel like you’re leaving me but only in such slow motion I’m not even going to notice until it’s done,” she tells him, being among those who are very good at articulating themselves mid-panic attack. He meets her halfway by getting in a cab with her back to their apartment but leaving her alone on the doorstep, “You’re going to have something major going on and understand why I needed this time for myself right now.” It’s Adam being supportive, sounding so sure that Hannah will have something major going on, but hurtful to her because at this point she believes that she’s had a handful of something majors and has needed him by her side for each and every one.

One of those something majors was her job at GQ, which has seemed to be on the decline from the minute that she left that snack room on her very first day. A second interview session with Patti LuPone in an attempt to grab just one quote for the bone density advert only further encourages Hannah’s fear of a changing relationship with Adam, catching a glimpse at what could be as she learns that Patti’s writer-turned-professor husband’s artistic dreams had to take a back seat once his partner’s career soared. All of Hannah’s anxieties surface during a brainstorming session at work. “I just expect more from life,” she tells her colleagues as she word vomits philosophy all over a conference table. She’s terrified that she’s wasting her life and creativity away coming up with bullshit puns for menswear in a corporate office with other artists who are turning into former-artists right before her eyes. Her outburst gets her fired and she later convinces herself that she got herself fired only to collect unemployment, which she awkwardly declares while meeting Adam’s Broadway co-workers as she positions herself as the obnoxious and egotistical girlfriend with no boundaries who can’t stand for the conversation to not be about her.

Jessa is still coping with being sober by attempting to rid herself of her crazy energy in a rage dance session in the middle of Shoshanna’s apartment. It’s somewhat encouraging to see how quickly she is able to pull herself together, going from collapsed in a heap on the floor to landing a job in a matter of minutes with street photographer Beattie at SooJin’s gallery, being better at Marnie’s job than Marnie and managing to burst into her world and make a connection with someone Marnie admires after she herself had been trying to do so for days. It’s also sad because this is the cycle of Jessa. Complete and utter desperation to hope and optimism and right back around again. The previews for next week’s finale show Jessa asking Beattie if she only hired her because she knew that Jessa would be able to get her drugs, hinting at a continuation of this cycle and also painting a stark picture of how the vulnerability of Jessa allows for vultures to enter her life knowing exactly what they’re doing. 

Marnie’s still pretty aggressively pining for some sort of relationship with Desi and tells him this just as the two of them are about to go on stage during an open mic night. But he still has a girlfriend and he’s still not going to cheat on her. Marnie and Desi go on to perform what Lena Dunham describes as “the worst best folk song ever” (written by Dunham’s boyfriend, Jack Antonoff). The open mic’s a success and it’s all seeming to come together for Marnie here, prompting Shoshanna to look over at Hannah during the song to ask if she’s going to be OK standing by and watching both Adam and Marnie do so well creatively, telling her, “You’re supposed to be the famous artist in this group.” The high of the performance is only deterred by later meeting Clementine, the beautiful love of Desi’s life, who exudes a sexy confidence and is not at all threatened by Marnie, who seems so childlike in comparison. It makes sense then that Marnie immediately runs to Ray hoping to restore some of that confidence and Ray, who has tried and failed to maintain some of his own boundaries with Marnie, earlier declaring to Adam that he’s not going to compromise when it comes to getting what he wants out of a relationship, gives in once she’s naked in his bedroom.

The sequence is complete when upon returning to the apartment with Adam Hannah takes it upon herself to investigate the moans coming from Ray’s bedroom. It’s completely none of Hannah’s business and she has never shown any semblance of interest in Ray’s life before which only makes me think that she knew the moans belonged to Marnie and that’s why she was so confident in her decision to find out. Marnie is an asshole and says, “He made me,” as she’s hiding behind the bed in a scene that’s reminiscent of when Marnie showed up unexpectedly at Hannah’s apartment last season, only the roles have been reversed and this time it is Marnie who is ashamed about where she’s at. “You will never judge me again,” Hannah tells Marnie before shutting the door, perhaps half disgusted and half elated to finally have this big thing to hold over Marnie’s head.

There’s just one episode left and as our characters have grown more intricate and challenging with each episode this season, I’m anxious to see where we stand with them next week.  

Guest Post: Elaine Paddock is a writer in Boston.

Game of Thrones Season 4 Trailer ‘Secrets’

Premieres Sunday April 6 at 9pm.

Things are looking up for Hannah and Adam. She’s meeting Patti LuPone about a bone density drug advertorial; he’s sitting in a waiting room on a callback for a part in a Broadway revival of Major Barbara, declaring that he’s “not here to make friends.” Adam then immediately makes a friend and Hannah is informed that her subject won’t be joining her five minutes before their meeting time. Being stood up by Patti LuPone doesn’t stop Hannah from tracking her down and getting that interview, during which she quickly learns that most of her job is fake and that Ms. LuPone doesn’t know shit about osteoporosis. This, however, is fine for our Hannah because she’s a quick witted and determined writer. She can roll with the punches. 

The perpetually chill Adam, who is actually a talented actor who has perhaps always been aware of his talent but unwilling to share this fact with those in his life, is offered the part on the spot and then retreats to the bathroom to allow himself a muffled scream of excitement. Meanwhile, Hannah receives her first paycheck and begins to indulge in the joys of financial independence. The two seem to be doing great. Initially Hannah is the super supportive partner who couldn’t be happier for Adam’s success to match her own. But Patti LuPone’s insistence that things are going to change in Hannah and Adam’s relationship now that he’s a Broadway actor and will “start fucking everybody in the building” puts Hannah on a path of insecurity, making her question even the innocuous “have fun” uttered to her by her boss after giving her a 16 Reasons We’d Love To Stay At The Gramercy assignment. 

Marnie runs into Soojin, Booth Jonathan’s former assistant, and the two have an awkward stroll down the street with their fro-yo. Soojin’s no longer living that assistant life and has transformed into an entrepreneur who is in the process of opening her own art gallery. She is living the life that Marnie should be living. Instead, Marnie is still miserable and confiding a lot of that miserable in Ray, whom she is nearly cohabitating with and whose companionship seems to have become the one constant comfort in her life. It’s Ray though who wants a change. He wants more out of a relationship and knows that he’s not going to get that from Marnie. It’s a double blow for her because she has been dumped by a guy whom they both know is not in her league when she is still grieving the loss of who she thought may have been the love of her life, but also because she really does care about this relationship but is too hurt and embarrassed to admit it to either Ray or herself. But you don’t bring in your fuck-buddy’s Netflix envelopes, Marnie. You just don’t. 

Jessa is recognizing the soul-sucking and mundane tenacity of so many day jobs and has been managing it by being her own entertainment at the children’s clothing store, spanking a dummy in the store window one second, flipping off customers from the stoop the next. But despite how inappropriate Jessa’s behavior may be, she still showed up; she’s going through the motions like everybody else. I’m also in awe of Jessa’s ability to convince anyone to allow her to be in charge of the store at all, but that’s really just evidence of her ability to prove herself to be a responsible adult when she needs to. Of course when she seems to be doing all right, her boredom from her job collides with the return of Jasper, her creep of a father figure from rehab, who essentially stalked her with the explicit intent of fucking up her sobriety. I wanted to believe that Jessa had come far, that even though her latest rehab stint seemed to be a joke to her that she still may have retained some of the skills to avoid falling back into old habits and knowing how to respond to a situation like Jasper in a way that got her out unscathed – or at least not on her hands and knees at her place of employment picking through boxes for coke money. 

“Incidentals” concludes at the comped Gramercy hotel room with everyone gathering to celebrate Adam’s impending Broadway success. He brings his new BFF, Desi, who brings the aura of a former One Tree Hill star that both Elijah and Shoshanna are mesmerized by, and an acoustic guitar. Jessa brings Jasper and a cocaine high. Marnie brings the box of pizza she inherited in her and Ray’s break-up. Hannah’s insecurities continue to plague her as even her friends question how this new role could change her relationship and her life. Elijah’s concerned with educating Hannah on her “new moneyed lifestyle” and wondering how much she gets in incidentals and Shoshanna bluntly asks if she’s afraid that Adam is going to leave her for a Broadway harlot. She’s on edge when Marnie shuts herself in the bathroom upon her arrival, although it wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility in their relationship for Marnie to be mad at her and for Hannah to not know why. But it’s not about her and Hannah doesn’t ask. 

These girls are sad and something about it feels familiar. Jessa is an addict and her friends are realizing that Jessa has to be the one who wants help. Marnie has no idea how to cope with this type of rejection and has made the mistake of excluding her friends in a way that makes them unable to help. Shoshanna has reverted back to the one who falls back while her friends work out their neuroses. It’s Hannah, however, who has figured out how to handle things differently. She recognizes that she’s spiraling and talks it out with her boyfriend like a rational adult in a rational adult relationship because that is exactly what they have. Adam’s a very talented actor and Hannah’s a very talented writer; they’re good to one another and they’re both very lucky. Everything else is just incidental. 

Guest Post: Elaine Paddock is a writer in Boston.

For a lot of us, your 20s are when you first learn how to form relationships that extend far beyond matters of convenience. For the first time you’re able to create your own community and make your picks based on more than who happens to live on your street, take your bus, or has nearly the same first semester schedule as you. You figure out which personalities mesh with yours, which don’t, and how much of this matters when choosing whom you spend your quickly dwindling free time with. In “Beach House” our four girls are faced with the realization that their friendships may only still exist because they have for so long 

Marnie has put together a Long Island retreat and you can tell that she believes that this is her true self. She’s placing nametags on beds, arranging flowers in the kitchen, and staring longingly out at the ocean – and doing it all so well – before picking up Hannah and her ill-fitting onesie from the jitney. It’s clear from the beginning that Hannah and Marnie’s relationship is not the same – there has been a shift that they’ve never recovered from. You can see the uneasiness on Hannah’s face as she tries to convince both Marnie and herself that this is going to be the great weekend that they all needed. The fact that Hannah even showed up shows that she’s trying and that she hasn’t given up on salvaging this friendship. It’s Marnie’s insistence that she and her friends “have a lot of healing to do” that is disconcerting because she seems to be the only one interested in this and the only one who has even the slightest idea as to why this would be something that matters.

When Hannah runs into Elijah (as she’s living my absolute anxiety nightmare of being nearly naked and asked to leave a store), she’s initially miserable about having to abruptly confront Elijah with no warning and embarrassed because she’s traipsing around North Fork in bare feet and a bikini and has just learned that this is unacceptable. It’s Elijah who almost immediately apologizes, telling Hannah that he thinks about her all the time and that he misses her. Hannah accepts his apology just as quickly and invites him and his friends (and his new boyfriend who isn’t particularly nice to him but who we later learn is probably the best in this whole crew at being honest about what he wants in a relationship) back to the beach house hoping to ease some of the quickly mounting tension and avoid a group hair braiding and prayer session.

A mix of alcohol and pure grief fuels the next few hours and is so completely reminiscent of my own frenzied nights in my early 20s that I feel as though I can anticipate exactly what happens next and yet I’m still never prepared for it. Marnie isn’t thrilled with Hannah’s guests, still feeling awkward around Elijah and also desperately trying to hang onto the picture perfect weekend that she’s crafted, which includes dinner for four and not eight. Her and Hannah seem to make amends in a tipsy bed chat session and she lets go enough to briefly enjoy herself and let her semblance of a relationship with Ray slip to Elijah. We’re also privy to the rest of the grilled pizza story and it ends with Charlie telling Marnie that he doesn’t love her and he never did. This reveal tells us more about Marnie’s rather manic desire to be in control and to keep things as close to perfect as she possibly can. She doesn’t know what she did, or if she did anything at all, and her life was disrupted in such a traumatic way without her being able to understand why. It’s confusing for us too because this is such a far cry from the overly eager to please Charlie we first were introduced to two years ago.

Shoshanna has become a terribly rude drunk and is directing her tirade at Hannah and Marnie and their inability to be good friends to her. It’s funny in the same way it was funny to hear Ray and Marnie call each other out on their shit last week, but sad because Shoshanna is hurt by her friends’ lack of interest in her life and lashing out in such a way that hurts the most when it’s done by someone you care about and whom you think cares about you because it’s so personal. She calls Hannah a narcissist and tells Marnie that she’s “tortured by self doubt and fear.” This briefly pits Hannah and Marnie against Shoshanna instead of against each other while Jessa attempts to play peace maker. Shoshanna’s spilling her truth and for Hannah and Marnie it seems that the accusations are not as unanticipated as the source, which was precisely Shoshanna’s point. It’s not a shocking scene between four girlfriends but it put the pit in my stomach all the same.

I’m a firm believer that one of the best things that you can do for yourself as an adult is let go of relationships that don’t make you feel good. This may seem like a supremely simple and even childish way to go about life, but you have to trust me on this. The truth of the matter is: most of us have work to do all the time. The problems arise when we don’t accept this and don’t make any attempts at change because we refuse to realize that we need to. All of these girls have work to do both as individuals and as friends and I think that they could resolve their issues, but not before they first take some time to deal with what they actually are. My worry with fights like these is that it’s easier to simply wake up the next morning, chalk it all up to white wine and champagne showers, and agree to move on, leaving the legitimate issue festering at the root.

In the end Jessa emerges as the stable sober one who upon waking goes to pick up the pieces in the kitchen. It would be interesting to observe Jessa attempting to mend the relationships of her friends, but can you imagine her sticking around long enough to do that?

It’s David’s funeral and for just a second we think that Hannah has managed to step outside herself and be present as a mourning funeral guest and not as a writer mourning about her forgotten e-book deal. Before we can even blink that passes when we see that Hannah is more concerned with breathing the same air as the likes of Zadie Smith and Michiko Kakutani than she is with the loss of someone she cared about – maybe. We’re all thrown for a loop as we meet David’s wife Annalise, played by one of my favorites, Jennifer Westfeldt, who mistakes Hannah for another one of David’s memoirists, one who has overcome obesity and tourrets. It’s a mistake that Hannah can’t let go because, as we all know, she is only chubby. It’s a confusing few moments and Annalise later understands Hannah’s confusion, as a lot of people thought that Annalise’s late husband was gay, but she also shares that David was gay “sometimes.”

While still at the funeral, Hannah learns from Annalise that Millstreet has dropped all of David’s projects, which sends Hannah into a panic. I don’t have a PhD in etiquette and I often make vulgar jokes when I’m uncomfortable (most likely because I want to force everyone else to also feel as uncomfortable), but my gut tells me that how Hannah handled this is generally considered inappropriate. Hannah could have swallowed this information and then reached out to Millstreet, or possibly even Annalise, had enough time passed. She could have done the networking dance and searched for another publisher. Instead, she asked David’s grieving wife if she could offer up a name that might now be willing to help Hannah out. Annalise, however, does respond to Hannah’s insensitivity appropriately by telling her to simply get the fuck out.

Either Hannah couldn’t tell when she had overstayed her welcome or she did know but wasn’t willing to let that knowledge overpower her desire to get her book published. This seemed to set the tone to “Only Child” – people staying too long and lacking the skills to get the fuck out.

Jessa has started to take up too much space in the small apartment she and Shoshanna have been sharing since Jessa’s return from rehab. She’s become a burden to Shoshanna, which seems to be the case with so many of Jessa’s relationships, and Shoshanna wants Jessa to shut up and let her study. Shoshanna has a fifteen-year plan that involves an MBA and a business lady skirt suit and has started to realize that her recent turn up lifestyle has set her back a bit. It’s clear that Jessa views Shoshanna’s plans as boring, but she doesn’t have any at all for herself and is starting to realize that this no longer makes her interesting. She embarks on a mission to improve herself by smoking e-cigarettes and making a snap decision to apply to work at a children’s shop. While I want to be optimistic that Jessa is sincere, I’m already preparing myself for her to enter another toxic relationship and fuck up someone’s universe within the next half hour.

Caroline has, as Adam predicted, brought chaos upon the Horvath-Sackler household and it’s starting to wear on Hannah, who attempts to Jeff VanVonderen the situation at the kitchen table. Adam describes Caroline as someone with “no drive, no real goals, but somehow tons of opinions,” and Hannah responds by telling Adam that that actually sounds a lot like him. I’m offended on Adam’s behalf because I don’t think that it’s true, even though I kind of, okay totally, think that it’s true. When it’s set out so simply like this is seems as if the problems between Caroline and Adam stem from them being so much alike. We don’t really know what Adam wants outside of his relationship with Hannah and we don’t know what Caroline wants either. All we really know about her is that she has a tendency to enter into damaging relationships with men – and that she’s maybe a little psychotic. The conversation ends after Caroline throws out an accusation of Adam having a regressed sexual attraction to her, taking it back only seconds later. These two make each other crazy and they make me a little crazy too, but I somehow don’t want Caroline to leave.

Hannah manages to land a meeting with a new publisher and Lena & Co. also manages to cast a black woman in a role that isn’t a stereotypical black lady trope! It’s a meeting that’s uncomfortable because Hannah puts on an interview personality and throws out awkward one-liners while the publisher and her assistant Mo (whom I love) laugh a little too loud and a little too long. Her writing lands her an actual book deal and it’s all giggles and ice cream cones until Hannah learns that Millstreet owns the rights to her work for three years post-signing date. Caroline tries to soften the blow by telling Hannah that now she knows that she’s capable of writing great work and that she just needs to write some more. It’s a rational response, but also one that would send crippling anxiety and panic pulsing through a writer like Hannah who has placed so much weight on this one success. Hannah kicks Caroline out, thinking that she did the right thing for both her and Adam, only to learn later that night that Adam loves his sister probably more than any of us realized and now he’s worried that he’s failed at his responsibility to take care of her.

Like Hannah, Marnie initially exhibits what we believe is a slice of sincerity when she shows up at Ray’s apartment and very matter-of-factly asks him to tell her what’s wrong with her. I was impressed with this version of Marnie and with her willingness to take responsibility for herself and accept that maybe she’s the reason why she’s so unhappy. And I also admired her willingness to trust in Ray’s often-ruthless truthfulness. It’s in this moment, when Ray obliges Marnie and describes her as “a huge fat fucking phony” that I realize that Ray, and this episode’s writer Murray Miller, has essentially packaged my distaste for Marnie and tied it up with a neat little bow.

I wrote “OMG ARE THEY GOING TO FUCK?” in my notes of the episode as soon as Ray opened his apartment door so I wasn’t entirely surprised when they did, but a little surprised at how it happened. It was Ray’s sincerity that got Marnie all hot and bothered – maybe she just needed someone who wasn’t afraid of her to tell her what’s what. He’s the lacrosse team to her Regina George and to be honest, I think that Ray and Marnie could work if they could both knock themselves down a notch. There’s a balance between these two that would make for an equal partnership, but I’m worried about how the already high stress and vulnerable Shoshanna is going to handle the news. And I wish that Marnie would stop fucking her friend’s exes. That’s just like, the rules of feminism.

Guest Post: Elaine Paddock is a writer in Boston.

 

“Dead Inside” opens with the abrupt death of Hannah’s editor David who was found face down in the Hudson. More concerned with the state of her e-book than anything else and also while harboring a self-absorbed focus on other people’s reactions to her reaction, Hannah spends the episode mourning in an appropriate for Hannah way – which is not at all, really. While Hannah self-consciously wonders how she’s supposed to react, the people in her life face their own realities of death and loss and nearly everyone has more substance to add to the conversation than she does.

Boring Marnie has morphed more and more into a Whole Foods mom who city runs and air punches and makes smoothies while listening to self-help podcasts. She continues to deal with the loss of Charlie and her dreams of posting Instagram selfies with Taylor Swift at the Grammys and is forced to confront that she’s serving up lattes right alongside the peasants. Marnie has a “Gretchen Wieners had cracked” moment after finding Ray and Hermie watching her YouTube fail in the manager’s office. She screams about all of the fancy people who she could be working with if she wasn’t so generously donating her time to Grumpy’s and quits. Or Ray, who appears to be reaching his breaking point with exasperating self-important twenty-something white girls, fires her. None of us are really sure.

Jessa’s back and I’m initially annoyed with her provisional philosophy response to Hannah relaying the David news, but quickly realize that this is just how these two communicate. Jessa thinks that she’s got it all figured out and is far more knowledgeable than her coming-of-age-tale friends and Hannah may be the only one who still actually believes this. In a discussion about death with Shoshanna it at first seems that Jessa is at least attempting to be a real person with empathy and the ability to carry on a mutual conversation, but that too is insincere. She learns that a friend whom she thought was dead is not, but instead living in a brownstone with a man with an impeccable afro and a cute ass baby —she faked her death in part to get Jessa out of her life. Jessa’s anger at the reveal seems less about the magnitude of the lie and more about the realization that people like her have figured it out, that people grow up, and that maybe she should too.

In a scene that is almost too real Adam patronizes Hannah for getting updates on David’s death from Gawker and calls the site’s writers “judgmental creeps,” which Hannah defends as a “web portal that celebrates the written word” and its sister site, Jezebel, “a place feminists can go to support one another, which we need in this modern world full of slut shaming,” confirming what I have always suspected: Hannah Horvath has a Tumblr and I have blocked Hannah Horvath on Tumblr but still check up on her every week because it makes me feel full and satisfied to partake and judge on my own time. I love and hate this argument because I am completely in it with Adam. Hannah’s knee jerk reaction to rely on Gawker comments for information in the wake of her friend’s death is bizarre and feels empty when shoved in our faces like this, but I admittedly read Gawker daily and I fucking enjoy it and I would do the same thing. This scene is a social experiment in self-reflection and god damn you, Lena Dunham.

Later Adam admits that Hannah’s cold and selfish response to David’s death scares him and forces him to wonder how Hannah would respond if “something real” happened to them. Her telling Adam that she would be “extremely sad” if he died doesn’t suffice and he counters with how he would react, which is in a way that shows that while the two of them are both deep feelers they are full of emotion in two completely different ways. Hannah is wordy, and yet often manages to still say nothing at all. Adam says four words and you are kicked in the gut with how particular and raw he is with his feelings, especially for someone whom we haven’t been entirely sure cares about much at all. Adam expresses himself in the way that so many writers are told to do – be precise, get to the point, don’t use superfluous words or phrases. And he does this with such ease that you can’t help but wonder if Hannah is a little envious of his ability to do so.

In an impromptu frolic through a cemetery with Caroline and Laird, a duo of weirdos I hope to see more of, Hannah sits near a gravestone as Caroline tells a story about her and Adam’s sick twelve year-old cousin whose dying wish was to go to a high school dance. It was sad and poignant and sweet and brings Laird to tears. And it was completely false, a test to see if Hannah’s emotions extend beyond her own nose and one that upsets Hannah and again forces her to wonder if she really is as merciless as everyone is suggesting.

And so when she is faced with knowing that she doesn’t quite have it in her to care in the way that she’s supposed to and is feeling as though she owes Adam some sort of explanation for her behavior, instead of being honest with this man whom she loves and telling him that maybe there is no one appropriate way in which to mourn, she does what David urged her to do last season when she was facing writer’s block – she made it up.

Guest Post: Elaine Paddock is a writer in Boston.

There’s something I noticed while reading the many reviews, recaps, tweets, and other Internet musings on HBO’s new series Looking: Everyone wants it to be something. Look, pilot episodes of most TV shows are bad — there are some exceptions, of course, and for an HBO show you might expect a little more. You can’t read one review of Looking without someone mentioning GIRLS or Sex & the City or Queer as Folk or maybe Modern Family or Will & Grace or any other show with prominent gay characters because people (reviewers/recappers) need to compare it to give it a point of reference in the TV landscape or feel the need to define it. Andrew Haigh, one of the show’s creators responds to this: “Whenever before a show goes on air, people want to define it. The easiest way to define it is to say it’s a gay “Sex and the City, or a gay “Girls.” But I think the show is different from both of those shows. Different people, different ages. It’s out of our control, and I’m not embarrassed to be compared to those two shows. They’re both great shows. But I think ours is distinct in its tone and feeling. Our characters are in their 30s, coming up on 40. It’s a different age group.” (via)

We don’t need another recap of the show at this point because the Internet is flooded with them but after reading other reviews and recaps a few things jumped out at me. Most people are talking about the sex and how of course the show is going to be overly sexual. The show opens with a scene of the main character, Patrick (Jonathan Groff), cruising in the woods, which to be honest I thought was dumb as was the saw-it-coming-from-a-mile-away-threeway. Other than that the sexual stuff seemed appropriate to me - hearing your roommate have sex is something we have all dealt with. The older guy, Dom (Murray Bartlett), hitting on the younger guy and then getting turned down was fine too. I definitely see the coming to terms with his age and dating in his age group storylines approaching too which I think if dealt with appropriately could be really good. The other thing I keep reading is that the show is not realistic enough. Now while I was reading articles about Looking I was sitting on my bed with my boyfriend listening to HAIM while he was watching some ghost show - that’s pretty typical of an evening during the workweek for us. No matter how normal that is would that be something people watched 30 minutes of on TV? I don’t think so. Looking isn’t about a couple, it’s about three specific gay men living in San Francisco. Their stories aren’t everyone’s story, although I venture to guess that at some point in its first season many of the storylines will reflect a bit of most people in their 30’s or at least I hope they will.

Let’s talk about the cast and the diversity issue that also hit GIRLS. One thing I appreciate in the casting department is that two of the main characters are actually openly gay, the third (Frankie J. Alvarez) is straight. We’ve seen enough Jared Letos of the world representing gay men in film, there are plenty of gay actors just as capable if not better to take on these roles, so plus one for the casting department. The diversity issue on the other hand isn’t as easy. Frankie J. Alvarez is Cuban and American and his boyfriend on the show Frank is played by O.T. Fagbenle who is of British and Nigerian descent. There’s also Andrew Law (Patrick’s coworker) and his girlfriend. If we are comparing the show to GIRLS or even Sex & the City in that aspect Looking comes out a little ahead, just a little here. I am not proclaiming that the show revolutionary in it’s casting - it could have done better, but it’s a start.

There’s more road to pave in the TV landscape and this is just another step forward. What HBO and other networks need to do if they are smart and continue to push forward is to air shows from other gay point of views and eventually a show from Issa Rae and HELLOOOO someone need to put Lena Waithe’s Twenties on my television.

Lena Dunham has a talent for melding comedy and tragedy in a way that forces you to laugh to keep from crying. I laughed somewhat maniacally at the end of “She Said OK” but quickly felt a pit in my stomach that I realized was really about confronting the intricate relationships we have with the ones we love. Last night’s episode of Girls was about making a conscious decision to accept that those people are who they are and you can’t change them, and choosing how much of them you are willing to allow in your life. 

Adam’s sister is in town and makes her entrance in such a manic and aggressive way that you immediately understand Adam’s hesitation about allowing this woman in his and Hannah’s home for even a matter of minutes. He’s not polite about it either, telling his crying sister, “you can wipe your nose with some toilet paper and then you can fucking get lost,” showing us that Adam believes that his best approach is to throw the mania and aggression right back at her. Hannah can’t seem to shake her tendency to be on the receiving end of manipulative relationships and also may be particularly sympathetic to Caroline’s situation after being not so far removed from making it out of her own mental health hell that she attempts to reason with Adam and makes an argument for allowing her to say. But Adam’s persistent and insists that giving in and letting her stay would be a terrible idea. Hannah, always the people pleaser, feels terrible and invites Caroline to her 25th birthday party in the hopes of the invitation making up for their lack of hospitality.

Marnie’s got YouTube troubles and is unable to get an embarrassingly hilarious performance of an Edie Brickell cover removed from the site. Charlie apparently made her do it and posted it on his YouTube account and without his password, on YouTube it will stay. Which is great for us because that shot of her up against a brick wall – was that…twerking? – is wonderful. She won’t take Shoshanna’s suggestion of just calling him and asking for the password, but she will look her best for Hannah’s party, which she selfishly planned more with herself in mind than Hannah, and take a ton of Instagram selfies because Charlie like, totally checks it. And yes, Hannah’s party is about Marnie and her half childlike, half sociopathic need to have people acknowledge her. She continuously takes credit for the party despite the fact that Hannah’s parents are paying for everything and while everyone is telling Hannah how great she looks (and she does! Hannah looks great!) Marnie just can’t help herself from negging her friend at her own damn birthday party, “I keep telling her she could look like this everyday if she wanted.” This bitch.

At the party we see further examples of Caroline’s lack of boundaries as she mouth kisses Hannah’s father and later serenades Ray and bites him on the arm after he dismisses her persistent invitations to dance. Ray seeks solace at the bar and thinks he meets a new buddy but soon realizes that his new buddy is also Shoshanna’s new sex buddy. Poor Ray has spent the last few months becoming the man he thinks that Shoshanna wants him to be, but as he’s explaining his new responsible Mr. Manager life to her he realizes that he can’t do it and abruptly tells her that he doesn’t even want a friendship with her. Shoshanna isn’t the girl he fell in love with and he’s not who he used to be either, but I can’t tell who Ray is really angry with – Shoshanna for changing or himself for thinking a change was all that he needed to make her love him.

An appearance by Hannah’s belligerent, horned up editor David, who just wants to check Grindr in between LMFAO sound tracked solo dance parties, leads to a fight with belligerent, sad Ray and Hannah’s party comes to a close, but not before Marnie drags a reluctant Hannah up on stage to sing a song from Rent and relive a nostalgic college moment, but really because one can never practice too much for their big American Idol audition. I’m upset that this moment came soon after a super cute dance scene between Hannah and Adam looking so disgustingly loving and happy because it so clearly shows the juxtaposition between her and Adam’s equal partnership and her immediate readiness to give in to her often demanding and selfish friends who were completely absent when she was losing her god damn mind just a few months ago. I honestly don’t know where this protectiveness of Hannah is coming from, but I really like her now and I hate that her otherwise happy life is dominated by the personal tragedies of her friends who never put this much effort into her when she needed it. But this is a decision that she has made. She knows who they are and her willingness to accept their behavior has only shown them that it’s acceptable in their relationship.

On the walk home Adam presents Hannah with a necklace made out of his tooth (or Caroline’s, he can’t be sure) and it’s sweet in a very Adam way and really, how the hell did this dude become the most rational, selfless, caring human on the show? Tooth necklace puts Hannah in panties off mode and as she makes a quick trip to the bathroom (protect yourself from UTIs, ladies!) she’s surprised by Caroline, wearing only a t-shirt and a full bush as she crushes a glass in her hand, proving Adam absolutely right in his insistence that her mere presence is destructive and also that Gaby Hoffmann does this kind of crazy so, so well. Afterwards, Adam sits on the edge of their bed, defeated, declaring that she’s won. There’s a fine line between doing what’s best for you and being a dick when establishing boundaries with someone who is toxic, and it seems as though Adam and Caroline have walked this line for some time now. This time she has forced herself back into a part of his life that he had been so successful at keeping her out of. She’s now in Hannah’s life too, and this will undoubtedly have an effect on both Hannah’s relationship with Adam and her own road to an OCD meltdown-free life. 

Guest Post: Elaine Paddock is a writer in Boston.

Season 2 of Girls was a lot. It veered more into drama than comedy and watching Hannah deal with her OCD and anxiety for a chunk of the second half of the season was intense. We were left with Adam running all over Brooklyn shirtless and sweaty to rescue Hannah as she ritual ticked under her covers, but wondering whether or not that was enough to help her pull herself together—or even what she needed at all. In Females Only and Truth or Dare, the first two episodes of the show’s third season, we learn that in the time we last saw her, something has clicked. She’s moving forward professionally, is in good graces with her editor, and appears to be in a grown up and healthy live-in relationship with Adam who administers her morning meds in a way that manages to appear far more endearing than controlling. Now her girls are the ones struggling.

Females Only opens with an encounter with Natalia at Grumpy’s that I’m already calling as my favorite scene from this season. As he’s standing right next to Hannah, Natalia reluctantly confronts Adam about his abrupt end to their relationship while her friend Angie does most of the talking. Amy Schumer’s Angie is the epitome of the friend whose brash and loud behavior sometimes embarrasses you, but whom you’re really glad to have in a situation like this. I want more Angie this season. The confrontation is both funny and a little sad, as Natalia delivers a diatribe towards Adam in which it’s clear how much she did really care about him and you wonder if this could be the type of thing that causes a huge rift in Adam and Hannah’s smooth relationship. But it doesn’t, which shows that Adam and Hannah are two mature adults in a mature relationship that I’m really rooting for and how did this happen?

Ray’s doing all right managing Grumpy’s and has moved into Adam’s old apartment after Shoshanna broke it off due to his unwavering and aggressive negativity. Meanwhile Shoshanna has transitioned into the prototype of the “over it” college senior, waking up in bunk beds and resting her hangover hoodied head on a library desk to nap next to a giant iced coffee.  Shoshanna has played it pretty safe in the time that we’ve known her but the end of last season hinted at her no longer wanting to be that girl so it’s not completely surprising that she’s now putting in major effort to change that image. Zosia Mamet says in this season’s production trailer that Shoshanna has “made an active decision to be reckless,” but it seems like there’s much more to it than that. Her new sexual freedom has been accompanied by an eating disorder that is almost as uncomfortable to watch as Hannah shoving a Q-tip in her ear last season.

Marnie’s miserable after Charlie pulled a disappearing dad and vanished on a trip to the store. She’s left to deal with the fact that she’s never going to have his brown babies and doesn’t understand why. She’s also living with her demanding mother, taking the bus into the city for her shift at Grumpy’s, and sobbing at dinner parties. Marnie is a blubbering mess and I suspect it’s more because she doesn’t think that she deserves this life than because her life is really all that terrible. Which isn’t to say that it’s not okay to wallow in your shitty-for-you life, but that Marnie will never be satisfied unless she realizes that she she’s not entitled to anything. Honestly, I’m bored with Marnie already. The Season 3 trailer shows Marnie furthering her music career on YouTube and I’m holding out for that because I love a good YouTube star.

We find out that soon after Jessa abandoned Hannah at her father’s house she was checked into rehab on her grandmother’s dime and her rehab behavior is just as you would expect. She’s taking none of it seriously, is disruptive during therapy sessions, and is terrible to the other patients which leads one, Laura (played hilariously by Danielle Brooks), to throw a cup of coffee on her after she outs her in group and accuses her of using her molestation as an excuse for her addiction. Jessa generously makes it up by performing cunnilingus on her and is then sent to solitary for breaking the well-known fraternizing rules of rehab. She ultimately sends for Hannah to come check her out of the program and in the meantime develops another relationship with an older man that results in me almost feeling sorry for this narcissistic sociopath that I’m pretty sure I can’t stand. We later learn that Jessa was free to leave at any time and it was unnecessary for Hannah, Adam, and Shoshanna to make the road trip to upstate New York—a trip that makes up Truth or Dare—to retrieve her, but Jessa enjoys counting on people while still knowing that no one will ever expect her to be there for them. She’s terrible.

The two biggest surprises of this season so far are that Hannah is the most stable and mentally well out of her friends (a position I think she really enjoys) and that Adam is capable of being a pretty great boyfriend. Hannah’s happy now and this happiness is reflected in her entire demeanor. It’s like looking at a completely different person from last season. Adam, despite making it clear that he doesn’t really care for Hannah’s friends, agrees to a dinner party with them, comforts Marnie with a sweet and thoughtful story about a past relationship, and offers to go to an AA meeting with Jessa. What a guy, this one! In true pessimist form, however, I can’t help but worry that we’re in some type of Hannah and Adam honeymoon phase and that the joy and stability will soon wear off. Despite my fear that Hannah will backslide into familiar territory, I put a ridiculous amount of faith in Lena Dunham and trust that she has made this season worth my while. 

Guest Post: Elaine Paddock is a writer in Boston.