After Adam broke down Hannah's door and cartoonishly came to her rescue, there should've been a moment like the one at the end of The Graduate, where you see Ben and Elaine sitting on the bus together, already no longer sure that busting up Elaine's wedding to run off together was the right idea, wordlessly contemplating whether it might in fact have been a terrible, irreparable mistake. Following the big grandiose gesture, after the speech that changes everything, after the hot makeup sex, there's always a soul-crushing point when reality sets in. With evil quickness, life goes back to being tedious and mundane.
For her latest adventure in accidental self-harm, Hannah abraded her eardrum during an overzealous session with a Q-tip; an incident based on something that actually happened to Lena Dunham if she was telling the truth in her tweets about how she ruptured her eardrum by Q-tipping it too hard. Hannah can't do anything without overdoing it. She has a lot of problems with restraint. She always wants the whole jar of olives, but that means she consistently ends up with a huge wooden splinter lodged in her ass. She was drawn immediately and then continuously to Adam because she identified with him; they share the same contradictory mixture of strict asceticism and crazy appetites. Hannah's OCD has the spiritual tinge of compulsive prayer, and she literally cannot stop touching herself. She goes only to extremes, either zero or 11. On the plus side, other than her wails of pain, grisly body horror close-ups, and pathetic call to her parents, Hannah basically dealt with her ear issue like a grownup, even if her emergency was exactly like something a toddler might do.
The girls of Girls like to try on new lifestyles the same way you would shop online; picking out items that look great on models in the carefully styled pictures posted on the site, then feeling stupid when it shows up as a physical package and doesn't fit or look flattering at all. Maybe it's cut for a different body type, maybe it's way out of realistic price range, or maybe it's just not made well and falls apart after a couple of wears. They keep shopping anyway, conveniently forgetting the past so they can pursue more fantasies of new personas they can try on, ignoring former magical items that ate holes in paychecks only to become bunched up dirty laundry on the floor, pretending not to remember how much they needed that wasted $50 to make rent. PVC dresses go from shiny to scratched to bottom-of-the-basket debris. Somehow, the lust to consume springs eternal.
It's no wonder Jessa was so horrible to her ex-husband Thomas-John's parents. She hates her own dad! She also loves him, but it's painful, as they're uncomfortably similar and he is, decidedly, quite a prick (albeit a very charismatic one). Jessa embellishes the story of her divorce to make herself sound like the victim, and you have no idea whether she thinks she's being dishonest. Maybe she really does think she tried hard to be married to someone she randomly chose, and that she was robbed of the opportunity to really work on it. Her father's interest in her life is purely superficial, and she knows it. Since they are beautiful, and seemingly rich (Jessa's dad has no identifiable job, but lives in tony Putnam County in a large, raggedy country house), they can afford to burn bridges, since new ones always seem to spring up.
Jessa's dad shows her the future that might be hers, too, if she keeps unconsciously emulating him, pursuing relationships she knows can never get too deep and fleeing at the first sign of real intimacy. Rather than open up about it to Hannah, Jessa withdraws further into herself. Just like Hannah claimed last week, Jessa's depression makes her mean. Maybe it hurts too much to discuss how her dad reels her in with promises and then vanishes at the crucial moment every single time. She tells Hannah that nothing is nobler than inspiring a young man's sexual awakening, and then acts disgusted when Hannah takes that to mean she should fuck Frank. Like her father, Jessa can be utterly convincing when she is the most full of shit. Jessa was just talking for talking's sake, like she always does. It doesn't have to matter so much what you say. All that matters is how you sound saying it.
Oh Adam, you human bandsaw. Welcome back, hon. On their way to Staten Island during a wild dog chase, Ray tries to make contact with Adam by blathering aimlessly about sex (like he always does), prompting Adam to reveal that what turns him on is a woman who's comfortable in her own body, regardless of age or type. Hannah certainly fits that bill and always seemed open to exploring any strange position Adam put her in, physically or emotionally. Ray tries to prod Adam into talking shit about Hannah, but Adam is a chivalrous ape who disapproves of gossiping behind her back. He praises Hannah's often disastrous ethics because he respects her misplaced sense of justice. (Wait, does Hannah have a fetish for Libertarians?)
Once when I was a teenager watching Friends, my mom said, "I don't want you to think that's what being in your 20s is like." While I assumed she was referring to the fact that actual friend groups were more diverse and real apartments rented by people with menial jobs were much (much, much) smaller, when I asked further, she explained: "Everyone's not just sleeping with each other all the time." I still don't really know what that meant. I do know that people tend to think everyone else is having a lot more sex than they are. And that the odds of having a daylong, one-night stand with a Patrick Wilson–looking guy with a huge brownstone apartment who will flatter and cajole you into hanging out so he can bang you against a ping-pong table and then let you recover in his experience shower are … not good. Don't hold your breath for that. You'll die.
Jessa finally created a problem that she couldn't blag her way out of with charm and good looks. Her narcissistic posh charm was on trial at dinner with husband Thomas-John's parents, resulting in a split verdict. While she was able to flirt her way (as always) into Thomas-John's dad's good graces, it was at the expense of alienating his mother, who was not here for Jessa's bullshit. Thomas-John was also flustered, as he fully realized over his Peter Luger meal from hell that Jessa was never going to do anything besides precisely what she wants to do, ever.
The mythical Vice-style blog jazzhate that pays a first time writer with no credentials and 26 Twitter followers two hundred dollars for a post about a personal experience is an urban fairy tale. Aspiring future Hannahs making their way to New York with their liberal arts education diploma in hand and inflated sense of self at heart will quickly learn that this pay rate is more aspirational than it is accurate, just like all the prospective Carrie Bradshaws did before them. It's much more likely that Hannah would write her first few posts free on spec or for a more nominal fee. I couldn't help but wonder, did Hannah expense the bag of coke to jazzhate? Was I the only one confused about the fact that jazzhate was neither a free jazz blog nor a blog about hating jazz? Do you guys want to listen to some hard bop?
Hannah attempts to take her independence to the next level via streaming Internet How To videos on dancercizing and cutting your own bangs. She ruins her relationship with Sandy the Manic Pixie Dream Hipster Black Republican by pushing her art on him too soon, getting defensive about his diplomatically negative opinion, whitesplaining her way into a non-negotiable idiot hole with some Missy Elliott lyrics, and then being surprised that Sandy doesn't still want to get his freak on. She's condescending to Marnie about her new "pretty person job," out of jealousy or false concern. She feels so freaked out when Adam invades her apartment that she beeps 911, and acts shocked when they actually come.
This season on Girls, our titular quartet and friends are "almost getting it kind of together," as printed on ubiquitous bus bench ads for the second season. Making it in a big city means different things to different people, but there are some agreed-upon markers that most people tend to grasp for as they flail through their 20s, mostly having to do with careers and relationships. I'll be keeping tabs on how the characters of Girls try to get it together; their plans, the realities, and whether it brings them any closer to growing up.
I like that Girls exists. I like its style, I like Jemima Kirke in general, I like women who make things that aren’t cute, I like seeing regular-looking naked people, and I like anything that reminds me of “Scotty Doesn’t Know.” I also don’t enjoy watching Girls, even though in theory it’s right up my alley, because I feel like I am from a planet that’s very distant from the one that the girls in question live on. This could be because I’m 29 and when I graduated from college life looked different; it could be because I live on another coast that’s way more chill, or because — though I’ve definitely had to ask my parents for financial and emotional support since I graduated from school — I come from a different mind-set than Hannah Horvath. I’m married, but even if I weren’t, I would not have sex with Adam Driver’s character because it looks like he’s wearing a muscle shirt made of his own skin and he’s a total asshole. I would not show up at my parents’ hotel room on drugs and beg them for money. I’d rather die. If I sit down in the shower, it’s not to eat a cupcake, and it’s not while staring up at my pal’s lady parts. That struck me as odd. It struck everyone as odd. It’s OK to be odd, but it pushes the canoe further into unrelatable waters filled with tampons, art gallery people, and cute sweaters with apples and peaches on them.
So far, Girls creator and star Lena Dunham has briefly addressed the no. 1 criticism leveled at her breakout HBO show — that the New York City it depicts is unrealistically lacking in non-white people.
This weekend I attempted to read every one of the 8 billion articles about Girls, the backlash to Girls, and the backlash to the backlash to Girls. What I learned is that some people like to think about difficult things, other people find the idea that they should have to think about difficult things offensive, and still other people confuse YELLING AT THE TOP OF THEIR INTERNET COMMENTING LUNGS with critical thinking about difficult subjects. The difficult subject in question is representation. Who gets to tell their stories onscreen? Why have some groups historically been pushed aside in favor of others? Why does this conversation so often turn into a shouting match? The answers are: mostly white guys, racism/sexism/ableism/homophobia, and because it's hard to discuss problematic issues related to personal identity without getting passionate. Once feelings about the core issues around which your world is built get involved, it's difficult to control them and the atmosphere of the Internet encourages people to express ideas without thinking them all the way through. This problem isn't going away anytime soon. Belonging to one oppressed group doesn't mean you understand what it's like to be in another, while belonging to a historically dominant group doesn't mean that you can't understand and address the pressing need for a much wider range of fictional characters to be portrayed in film, TV, and literature.