TV Talk: GIRLS 3.01 “Females Only” / 3.02 “Truth or Dare”
Girls returned to HBO last night with a double-header: "Females Only" and "Truth or Dare" brought us up to speed on the lives of our four gals, and they all seem to be doing...okay, you know? They're okay. They're going to be just fine.
At first flush, Hannah seems to be doing very well, in fact. She and Adam are happily cohabitating, her editor loves the new pages she's submitted, her meltdown haircut has grown out very cutely, and she hasn't jabbed anything in her ear in weeks. She and Adam are indisputably co-dependent, but in a way that's currently working for them. He makes sure she takes her meds, he chants to her when she's stressed out, he spoons her the way Marnie once did, their limbs intertwined and impossible to distinguish. So we know what Adam's offering Hannah; what does Hannah give him? Something to do, mostly. There's a good chance that the reason Hannah and Adam are getting along so well is that Adam has nothing in his life but Hannah. He's without a job and he has no friends save Hannah. He does some paper mâché crafting from time to time, evidently, but we don't have to talk about that. He seems okay with this Life of Hannah until Shosh points it out, as usual utterly oblivious and uncannily perceptive in equal turns, and a brief glint in Adam's eyes before he demurs that Hannah's his best friend leads me to believe that the role of caretaker isn't quite as fulfilling as he pretends.
And of course the other time reality threatens to splinter Hannah and Adam's little bubble is when they run into Natalia - and Amy Schumer! Hooray Amy Schumer! - at Cafe Grumpy. I cherish this scene, because Adam's forced to see Natalia as a person here, not this perfect doll he damaged because he feared he didn't deserve it. And, although they're both ignoring it for the time being, it's healthy for Hannah to hear how Adam treated Natalia, because she currently sees him as this lily-white savior - when in fact he's only taking care of Hannah because he can't take care of himself. He couldn't handle a relationship with a woman who didn't need him, so he tried to break Natalia. He tried to make her small. Natalia deserved to have her say, and she sure as hell did. I never thought we'd see Shiri Appleby again, but the loathsome way Adam treated Natalia needed resolution, and I'm glad Dunham thought so too. I still don't think we've had resolution - Adam needs to confront the issue within himself, regardless of how uncomfortable he is with confrontation - but at least Natalia, the victim in this messy, disheartening dynamic, was able to say her piece.
Shoshanna is living her own truth right now, sleeping with randos in bunk beds and trying to experience as much life as she can as she works toward graduation. Ray's still not ready to see her, understandably (although maybe he'll get over her faster if he and Amy Schumer get a little something going), but Shosh seems to be doing just fine. I don't know how long this is going to last, because her relentless optimism about life and love and graduation has got to give sometime, right? But maybe not. Maybe that relentless optimism is truly who Shosh is, and maybe that's why we love her. That and her stellar car-dancing skills. Zosia Mamet had more screentime in these two episodes than we're used to seeing, and I'm glad of it, but I'd still like her to have a meaningful storyline that really pulls back the curtains on Shosh's motivations and demons. There's got to be something more there, right?
And while we're on the topic: can we see something more from Marnie? She's been mourning Charlie since season one. I feel encouraged, however, that she has a new apartment and a new job (at Cafe Grumpy, naturally, the Central Perk of Girls' Brooklyn), and it seems like she's doing her best, her mother's hateful skepticism be damned. I'd like for this to be the Year of Marnie. Girls has invested enough time in breaking down the Type A perfectionist from the pilot. Let's build her back up again, shall we?
And finally we have Jessa, whose arc is the most fascinating to me in these two episodes. Since she abandoned Hannah at her father's house, Jessa has been in rehab - she's a "life addict," as Hannah so artfully phrases it. Naturally she takes fiction's ubiquitous role of the therapy circle bully, which could have been rather tedious except for the way she turns it on its head - by giving head. In her noisy, mean-spirited way, Jessa really wants to help Karen skip the bullshit and admit she's a lesbian, and she actually does help her do that. I mean, good cunnilingus is probably the fastest route to that destination. Of course, the first selfless thing Jessa does at rehab gets her kicked out, and just in the nick of time, as her father surrogate - a charming older British man whom she believes has taken her under his wing - turns out to be every inch as disappointing as her real father. He just wants to fuck her (although his advice about righteous honesty versus party trick honesty could do Jessa some real good), so Jessa calls Hannah to come pick her up, when she could have just checked herself out and taken a cab to the airport. Jessa didn't do that because, though she'd never admit it, she needs Hannah, and when Hannah tearfully clings to her and tells her to quit disappearing, Jessa realizes that Hannah needs her too.
I think what I loved best about these two episodes - and I did love them, wholly and happily - is that they offer a return to the friendship between these four willful, unpredictable women. Hannah tells Adam that he doesn't understand the nature of female friendships, and he doesn't - no man could. But Lena Dunham certainly does, and last year Hannah, Jessa, Marnie and Shoshanna all seemed to be four separate ships sailing to four different corners of the globe, and they all became a bit of a mess for it. This week's dinner party, and the road trip, and the phone call Hannah made to Marnie and the conversation Jessa and Hannah had on the porch of Sheltering Winds - some of these are small moments, and some of them significant, but they're all glimpses of real friendship, what it looks like, how it feels, how strange and messy and beautiful it can be. That's what I missed most in Girls Season Two, and I am so gratified to see that friendship again.