Girls – An Ear Full

This episode of Girls was the second-last in a relatively controversial season. The tone of this season of the show has definitely been different than the last, and I find most of my blogs on the show this year have led to discussions about the series overall rather than specific episodes.

I recently told a friend who is behind several episodes of the show to “expect a series of short stories, not a TV series”. I like what Lena Dunham has done here, but I can completely understand why many wouldn’t. I’m fascinated by every episode, every character, every story. I think this is an interesting way to tell a story, and each week I’m dying to see more of it. But it’s unconventional, and I don’t know that I can even make a strong argument that it’s good. I just know that I love it.

One major reason many viewers have been dissatisfied this season is because of how little the titular girls have interacted. But I actually find that more interesting. Jessa has disappeared because of Jemima Kirke’s real life pregnancy, but also because she’s Jessa. She has been described as an unreliable friend from the very beginning. Shosh is younger, Jessa’s cousin, a college girl with her own college girl friends. She has never been at the core of Hannah’s universe, it seems. So the real problem here is how Hannah and Marnie have been drifting apart since we met them, and what that’s done to each woman. I’m completely fascinated by how utterly alone each one seems, because it’s something I recognize.

When you’re in your twenties, you at times end up alone. You rely on your parents less because you’re trying to be an adult. Your romantic relationships aren’t necessarily the most solid. And your friendships are evolving. You were once in college with these people, you were all in the same place in your lives. But post-graduation, that changes – people scatter, both physically and figuratively. Some people have demanding jobs, others have tons of free time. Some people end up in relationships and others are single. Some are finding success, others have no sweet clue what to do with their lives. It can push people apart. It has pushed Hannah and  Marnie apart.

It’s interesting to see how this isolation has really weakened Hannah’s mental state. This week, she pushed a Q-tip far into her ear – twice. She’s floundering with the book deal, with Adam, with her whole life. She lied and told her parents that one of her “12 to 15 incredibly close friends” would accompany her to the hospital, but she went alone. In a ratty old T-shirt and no pants. She is not doing well.

Neither is Adam. He seemed it, for a while, but he’d gone to that AA meeting for a reason. One accidental run-in with Hannah sent him out of control – he drank, he had the violent, weird (and to many, offensive) sex with his new girlfriend that he’d had with Hannah. He ruined it.

Last week, I was worried what kind of route Marnie’s aspiration to be a singer would take us down. This week, I couldn’t be happier with it. Her cringe-inducing, humiliating performance at Charlie’s work party was hilarious to watch. Hilarious, and it made me want to vomit out of sympathy-embarrassment. Charlie was right in calling Marnie out on being a mess, but it also makes sense that Charlie would be attracted to that. He’s that kind of guy. He’s the guy that’s turned on by being the bigger person, by being the successful one to swoop in and save the damsel in distress. Marnie’s “journey” to self-destruction makes him feel even better about himself than he already would. So much of this show is unrelateable to me, because I’ve never really been a typical twenty-something. But this, I feel like I’ve witnessed this.

We didn’t get much from Ray and Shosh this week (Shosh’s hairstyles from this season should – and probably do – have their own Tumblr, though). Shosh was weird around Ray because she cheated, and she eventually blurted out “I did something bad!” followed by “I held hands with the doorman.” What? Is that a euphemism or did she lie? Ray seemed unbothered. I’m guessing it was a lie.

Next week’s season finale was written by Lena Dunham and Judd Apatow, so I’m interested to see what that will be like. The only other episode he’s credited on is “The Return” from last season, where Hannah goes back to visit her parents in Michigan. It’s an episode I like very much, but the only one from the first season that is similar to how these second season episode have been – more like a short story than a traditional TV episode. I’m looking forward to seeing how this season wraps up. I’ll miss Girls once it’s finished.

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About Jill

Pop culture junkie and TV aficionado. I write sharp and snarky TV recaps at www.couchtimewithjill.com
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8 Responses to Girls – An Ear Full

  1. Dana says:

    Well, my thoughts are pretty much the same as last week’s episode. Hannah’s OCD, despite the earlier references seems like a forced development. If she had OCD, wouldn’t we have seen more of it before now? I know times of stress can bring on an acute attack, but this just feels plucked out of thin air for me, despite Lena Dunham’s personal history.

    I thought Marnie singing was brilliantly horrible and probably one of the only true comedic moments this entire season.

    I am leaning with stopping to watch it after the finale next week. Here’s why. I can watch a show where characters do despicable things and are unlikable but the more I watch, the more I see that these characters, at this point and time in their lives have no redeeming qualities. I like characters that are multi faceted but I don’t see that in Girls, more and more I see Lena Dunham’s genius with this show not in her writing (although she is talented no doubt) but just in shock value. Shock value by itself is immature and not interesting to me. I know a lot of people don’t agree and that’s fine but I think I am done.

    • Jill says:

      I understand your wanting to stop watching the show, given that you haven’t really liked the season as a whole or the general direction it’s gone in. It’s how I felt about Boardwalk Empire, and sometimes it’s best to just give up on something you don’t like!

      I’m very much in agreement with Melanie’s comments below, and also find that Hannah’s experience is very similar to things I’ve experienced with a couple of friends. So I still find it really rings true for me.

  2. lifeofmytime says:

    I still feel the story surrounding Hannah’s mental state is bang on. It affects everyone differently of course, but my experience with a friend’s mental illness has been much like Hannah’s in that it comes on relatively quickly and seemingly out of nowhere, especially when acute stress is involved. And many people in that person’s life had (and some still have) no idea. Frankly, I find it quite refreshing to see a main character on television deal with a very real mental health issue, because it is so common and television rarely reflects this reality.

    Obviously the storyline surrounding the book deal was created to bring on additional stress in Hannah’s life and set things in motion for the OCD story. And it may seem like an easy add on – a neat and tidy way to add drama. But I think so much more has led to this. The end of the first season was when this storyline started for me. In that final scene, Hannah was alone for the first time in her life. And she had pushed them all away. She’s really been struggling with that all season – particularly with the loss of Marnie as her best friend. She then went on to push away the two other people she’d allowed into her life since then – Sandy and Elijah. If you really think about it, Jessa was the only one left (of the people she really cared about). This book deal is a ticking time bomb, and then suddenly Jessa ups and leaves? The one person she had not pushed away chose to leave. It makes total sense to me that this would trigger her OCD.

    The OCD story aside, I do find it very interesting to watch Hannah and Marnie drift so far apart and see them both flailing, as Charlie says. I think a lot of us can relate to that. And I too was very happy with the direction the singing storyline took in this episode. I’m curious to see if that’s the end of it. I thought it was also a very Marnie thing to do – attempting to seize someone else’s moment in the spotlight for herself.

    I often find this show uncomfortable to watch at times, particularly this episode. But it’s so very compelling. And that’s enough to keep me watching.

    • Jill says:

      I’m with you 100%, Melanie. Hannah’s OCD springing up with very little warning also reminded me of things I’ve experienced with a couple friends.

      I love that Jessa has disappeared, because it does leave Hannah totally alone. It was something we’ve known about Jessa since before she even showed up in episode one, and it’s so sad that the one person Hannah didn’t push away was the least reliable person in her life.

  3. ok…lets just call it was it is….that rape scene was shocking, even for HBO. I get that it ‘s part of a larger story in showing how Adam self-destructs and is a great mirror for how Hannah does, but my jaw was on the ground.

    I hate the OCD stuff Hannah is going through. Don’t you think this is a little bit of lazy writing? It’s kinda like how when a show gets stale, they bring in a baby or wacky neighbor, no?

    • Jill says:

      It was certainly more graphic than a lot of what we see on HBO, but I don’t know if I’d call it a rape scene. There was no force used, and she never asked him to stop. It’s complicated and I don’t want to minimize how awful or demeaning it was, but I don’t know that I think Adam is a rapist.

      I really disagree about the OCD storyline (my above comments to Dana and Melanie) but it’s very polarizing, so you’re definitely not alone in feeling that way.

      • Dana says:

        I have another friend who also called it a rape scene. I don’t know if it fits the legal definition of rape. She didn’t tell him to stop but she did ask him not to do what he was doing and he completely ignored her. I think the viewer was supposed to wonder about that. And the truth of the matter is he pulled similar sexual humiliation on Hannah, but there, she was a more willing participant, in her quest to experience things so there it was viewed as funny (at least that is how I viewed it at the time).

        I didn’t like the scene but I thought that Lena Dunham did a good job of capturing (if you look at the arc of the series) how your interpretation of a situation can change based on your perspective or a small detail. Hannah has always been a mess (regardless of the cause) so humiliating her is viewed comically. This girlfriend has her shit together and is clear about what she likes and doesn’t like, so this is viewed by some as rape.

        I do think Lena Dunham did some amazing acting in the scene with Adam. The way her eyes reacted when Adam called her “kid” in her totally alone state was so well done.

  4. Vanessa says:

    I’m like you I’ve really been enjoying this season, and I enjoyed this episode a lot, I laughed out loud when the doctor suggested that she frame the Q tip. I also don’t have a problem with the OCD, I completely understand that stress can be a fast and strong trigger. I really enjoyed Marnie’s story this week, it had me cringing and watching thought my fingers, and I love that Elijah started an app, it’s perfect for Girls.

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