Girls – “I’ve always been here”

girlsThis season of Girls has been many things. Dark. Controversial. Contained. Uncomfortable to watch, and for me, completely compelling. These ten episodes have taken place in what seems to be a pretty short time span, and the season began only a few weeks following where we’d left off in season one.

I think this slow pace works for the series. If this season had begun a full year after the last, we’d expect to see a lot of personal growth and change from the characters, and we wouldn’t have witnessed any of it. To me, Girls is like a study of a few people who are going through the most difficult times in their lives so far.

The quote that spoke to me the most in the season finale was when Marnie said “This has been the worst year of my life.” When you’re in your early 20s, it’s not difficult to go through the worst year of your life. Unless you’ve previously experienced the death of a loved one, trauma, or some other major event, you are likely going to struggle a lot more in the first few years after you leave college than you ever had to before. As Hannah said, no one picks up broken glass for you anymore. And you’ll probably cut yourself picking it up.

I hate to make these Girls blogs overly personal, because I have no desire to share super personal details on the Internet and I don’t want to give the impression that I can personally relate to every detail of this show. That’s by no means true. But in the years following my college graduation in 2008, there were some tough times. There were jobs that I hated and lost, jobs that I loved and lost, bad economies, unemployment, broken relationships and friendships that drifted apart. There were times when it felt like every aspect of my life was kind of a mess. This is why, when Marnie was acting horribly and being loud and awful in the brunch restaurant, I understood. Because no one is the best version of themselves when they are having the worst year of their lives – even if you know that in another twenty years, you will have had other worst years.

Marnie and Charlie got back together, which felt very realistic for those people at those ages. Charlie still loves her, and Marnie thinks she loves him too. Will it work out? Maybe, maybe not. They had lots of problems when they were together before, but they’ve both changed a lot since then. Charlie’s more self-assured, Marnie less so. The relationship could have a very different dynamic this time.

Shoshanna broke up with Ray, because she had to. Because he’s 33 and bitter, and she is 21, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Their relationship could be sweet, but it couldn’t last. Shoshanna has so much more living to do, like making out with blond adult males even though that’s a thing she thought she’d NEVER do.

And Hannah. Hannah knows how much she has pushed away all the people in her life, and she knows how alone she is. I felt like she seemed aware of how much of that was her responsibility, but she is also drowning in her OCD and mental illness. It’s fascinating and heartbreaking to watch. She hid from Marnie, but left an angry voicemail for Jessa. Her friendship with Marnie had become too strained for her to ask Marnie for help when she stopped by, but she blamed Jessa for abandoning her. It reminded me of the first episode of the series, when Marnie told Jessa “You don’t know what it is to be a best friend.” Marnie and Hannah, it seems, have a friendship that will survive periods of tension. But Jessa will always be Jessa.

(“You’re probably wearing a crop top and got your vagina pierced” was maybe the best line of all time.)

I still don’t know what to make of Hannah and Adam. Viewers who interpreted the scene from last week as rape were probably surprised and disgusted to see that Adam was still with Natalie. Personally, I hadn’t interpreted the scene as sexual assault – yes, it was aggressive, degrading and horrible. I re-watched the scene, and I still don’t think it was assault. I don’t think that the character felt she was being assaulted – I saw it as a consensual sexual encounter that she hadn’t been comfortable with, and insisted would not happen again. It’s not how I would have reacted or handled such a situation. It’s a touchy issue though, and could be discussed much more in depth on a different kind of blog. The fact that it’s so complex and generated so much interesting discussion is a great example of why I think this show is so good.

It was interesting to see how much pent-up anger and aggression Adam had inside of him when he was not being sexually aggressive. Natalie kept him in check this time, correcting him when he called her a “dirty little whore” during sex. I wish we’d had more time to explore that relationship, so we could better understand why Natalie was willing to put in the work to try and help Adam become the kind of lover she wanted. Adam obviously has some serious issues, and that’s why I don’t know how to feel about him and Hannah. It was sweet that he came running to her aid when he realized that her OCD had returned, but is he even capable of helping her?

Hannah called Adam, he ran shirtless through Brooklyn and bashed in a door to come to her aid, and then picked her up and kissed her. But what happens after that? Does he take her to a hospital? Has she been taking her medication? Should these two people be together, or are they toxic to one another? I think it’s brilliant that the show has left us with all these questions – as a TV blogger, I kind of live for this sort of thing – but oh man, do I wish there were more episodes. This show has developed into something that alienates a lot of viewers, but it has developed into something much more daring and intelligent than I ever expected. Personally, I thought season two was more interesting than season one.

This show always creates a lot of conversation, so please head to the comments and tell me what you think!

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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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7 Responses to Girls – “I’ve always been here”

  1. Dana says:

    OK, I know I said I was going to stop watching, but with one episode left, I caved and watched it. I think we still fundamentally disagree on this season. I found it to be very choppy and although I did appreciate a lot of the moments in this particular episode, for me it’s not enough.

    I thought the scenes with Hannah were excellent, particularly the scene with Laird when they are talking about the broken glass.

    I also thought Ray and Shosh’s breakup scene was brilliant. Zosia Mamet has been the one consistent bright spot in this show and she really killed that scene.

    What I really hated was Marnie and Charlie. In some way it was realistic, someone always becomes more attractive when they are successful and they act like they’ve moved on. But Marnie is a shallow person, I think her love for him is totally based on his success and the fact that he wasn’t necessarily pining after her. Although wasn’t he? After trying to steal his moment in the spotlight last week, she obnoxiously asks him who else he has been with while he is having sex with her and then freaks out when he is not kissing her ass.
    I

    • Jill says:

      I always have a hard time leaving shows with only a little left in the season as well. I too adore Zosia Mamet, I wish she had been in this season more, even though I did love the Hannah-centric stuff.

      This comment is way late, but interesting to hear that the actor who plays Charlie quit the show. A dumb career move, I think – he’s an unlikable character for sure, but I do find a lot about the character rings true.

  2. Vanessa says:

    I was really loving this episode until the last few minutes with Adam running shirtless through the street – it felt a little too rom-comy for me. That being said, I loved the season as a whole, sure it didn’t really go anywhere, but that’s life in general for a lot of 20 somethings.

    • lifeofmytime says:

      I feel the same way about the ep, Vanessa. Or at least I did at first. After I thought about it some more, I’m coming around to the ending a bit more. Like Jill points out, what now? It was like a classic “rescue the damsel in distress” moment, which feels super out of place for this show. But is he really rescuing her? Great – he scooped her up in his arms, and she no longer feels alone. But what’s the next step? I wonder if the rom-com-ness of it all was ironic? I guess as long as I can question the intended sincerity of that scene, I’m okay with it. I don’t always know how to feel about Girls, and I think that’s one of the reasons I like it so much.

      I found Hannah’s reactions to Marnie and Adam very interesting as well. She absolutely did not want Marnie to find her when she came looking for her. She did not want Marnie there at all. But she reached out to Adam. She called him. She said she hit Facetime by mistake, but that was a lie, right? I think she wanted him to see her, wanted him to be able to see something was seriously wrong (she played it down, but not at all convincingly), and wanted him to come “rescue” her. When he was at the door, she knew he’d break it down if she didn’t answer. She wanted him to break it down. I know these are very broad strokes here, and it’s more complicated than this. And I also don’t mean to make to make light of a very dire moment in her life. She’s allowed to want those things. And even if she did want Adam to come through the door, she could still legitimately feel frozen in place. I just find it interesting how this show isn’t afraid to investigate truths about human nature in a way I’ve never really seen before. For example, in the rom-com version of that scene, Hannah hitting Facetime would most definitely have been an accident.

      • Jill says:

        I agree with Melanie, it struck me as a rom-com trope that they both knew was a quick fix. I’m dying to know where the third season will pick up, but I doubt they’ll be living happily ever after.

  3. erikabatista says:

    I have to say, as much as I complained about this season in the beginning, I think this episode wrapped everything up perfectly. Before, I felt like the story was dragging on and nothing was happening except for Hannah’s rants, but I decided to forget “what I thought the show should be” and my perspective changed. Then comes this episode and I love this show again. I agree with everything you said. I love how this show is so unapologetic. You have the people and their situations, and it’s often hard to watch, but other times it’s fascinating. What I loved the most about this episode though was the way the scenes were shot and set up. Like for example the scene when Shoshanna is breaking up with Ray and she is sitting by the window and he is on the couch, everything seems to be just in the right place to create something very artistic and powerful. I am (like you) filled with questions and really looking forward to the next season. I loved having a blog post every week to gain some insights that maybe I missed or didn’t think about, so thank you for blogging about this show and I hope you will continue to do so :).

  4. Kristin B says:

    I’ve really enjoyed this show, and this season. It’s one that I always really look forward to each week, and having been away this last one and having to wait 2 weeks for the season finale episode – I about died with anticipation!!

    I’ve certainly heard many polarising and opposing views about this show, but part of me loves that about it. It’s a show that has a completely unique voice (there are no other shows like it, at least that I know of), but it’s also one that’s very universally adaptable based on a certain person’s current or past life experiences. A lot of what takes place event wise on the show is a very specific circumstance, but they present the emotions and thought process behind them in a way that you can say, “okay, no, this exact thing hasn’t happened to me, but something else has affected me in a similar way, so I can relate”… which is something that I really, really love and appreciate about this show. It’s very real, and honest, and raw – it’s not all fluffy bunnies and sunshine and rainbows and laugh tracks and so-perfectly-awkward-that-it’s-adorkable. Real life isn’t like that. This show depicts a very focused reality, but it *is* a reality and that’s what makes this show so great for me. It’s evocative and uncomfortable in the best way possible. I’ll eagerly be awaiting season 3.

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