Film & TV

Girls on Girls: Season Two, Episode Seven—How Am I Different?

Film & TV

Girls on Girls: Season Two, Episode Seven—How Am I Different?


Good morning and make yourself comfortable—would you like a glass of water? Nespresso?—because we have a lot of (literal) dad issues to work through today. Never mind the doubtlessly Lana Del Rey-“inspired” title. It’s not all “take me to the Hamptons,” more like “drown me in a fast-moving river in the middle-of-fuck-nowhere.” Like, Manitou Station? That is where Jessa’s dad lives. It sounds like a Tragically Hip song (hashtag Canada).

This unlucky seventh episode is more tragic than hip, as you’ll soon see (if you haven’t already, which we get, because there was ***sincerely*** nothing better to do last night than look at photos of Jennifer Lawrence and Kristen lightly touching each other). Hannah and Jessa escape Greenpoint to see said dad. Jessa is revealed to be stranger than ever we hoped, while Hannah attempts to get on Jessa’s level and fails gracelessly. Meanwhile, we can only hope Shoshanna is seeing a psychic about Ray. When will she get a breakout ep? Should we petition?


Jessa goes upstate to see her dad and her dad’s new girlfriend, “Petula” (that is how Jessa says it, nothing but air quotes). She brings Hannah and a Louis Vuitton duffle bag the size of Hannah’s abandonment complex. 
WOULD HAPPEN: I love Jessa; she endears herself to no one. Would you, after your divorce from the most unsuitable suit, travel to your dad’s with the most unsuitable suitcase? Doesn’t it just scream “ELEVEN THOUSAND DOLLARS?” Probably you would not. That’s why Jessa is Jessa and you are a fictional character she finds unbearable to watch. —SNP

Jessa tells Hannah that she should try to cure her urinary tract infection by putting garlic in her pussy. “But I think you, like, have to put a whole clove up there,” she says.
DOES HAPPEN: Obviously, in like 99% of cases, you get UTIs from banging gross dudes, so they are like the malady of being a 22-year-old girl in New York City. —JRS
WOULD NEVER HAPPEN: But garlic is for yeast infections. (And it helps if you pierce the clove a couple times with your thumbnail first.) Cranberry capsules are for UTIs. Jesus, Jessa. Everybody (who’s ever been a 22-year-old girl) knows that. Don’t fuck with Ocean Spray. Go straight to the capsules. —JRS

“After all the shitty stuff you’ve been through lately,” says Hannah, “you really want to see your dad?” Yada yada yada yes, says Jessa.
WOULD NEVER HAPPEN: Actually, Hannah, that’s a really good point, and I’m semi-surprised Lena let you make it (although this show, as I am surrreee we’ve discussed, is like most contemporary art in that it contains its own critique). IRL you would go see your mom, if you have a good (relationship with your) mom. Or get a very fuckable personal trainer.  —SNP
WOULD HAPPEN: IDK, if your relationship with your father is the model of all subsequent male relationships, and you’ve just run the most significant one (on paper at least) into the ground, wouldn’t you seek out that ur-dynamic? To figure out what went wrong? To look in that first mirror of a man? —FAD

Jessa’s dad, who looks like a young, lank-faced Gary Oldman, pulls up in a paneled station wagon with an unexplained back half full of ‘90s personal computers.
DOES HAPPEN: Everything superficial about Jessa’s dad reminds me of my own parents, i.e. not the rehab and absenteeism, but the vintage station wagon, eccentric bohemian clutter, and aversion to vacuum cleaners: yes. It’s almost too precise a picture. —FAD
SHOULD NEVER HAPPEN: It made me sad when Hannah talked about how big and “ugly” those old computers were. Hannah, that humble Macintosh is the esteemed progenitor of your precious little MacBook Air! Have some respect. Related (?) — does anybody remember Acorn computers? My primary school had one in the library. I think we got it by clipping coupons or something. —JRS

Jessa and her dad bond by doing inexplicably wank-y accents, using fuck as an adjective, and declaiming, “You know, we’re not like other people.” 
WOULD/DOES HAPPEN: Father/daughter dynamics, man. We communicate through tease and taunt but, really, so much is left unsaid. —FAD

Life is but a video game, Petula Nhat Hahn preaches virulently.
WOULD HAPPEN: Because even New Age second-wave feminists know about that song [link to Video Games on Youtube I guess] and/or she read about the MoMa’s video game collection in like the New York Daily News. —SNP
And because the line between peaceful, New Age, earth mother bullshit and violent antisocial delusions can be as thin and soft as the hair of a rabbit. —FAD

Jessa’s dad’s house is filthy with art therapy landscapes, hairballs, and vintage pornos; no clean towels. 
DOES HAPPEN: Borrowers reference FTW. —JRS
WOULD HAPPEN: Doesn’t this totally explain the marriage to Thomas John? He seemed everything her father isn’t. Jessa’s manic-pixie-dream-girl schtick sometimes smokescreens that she IS carrying a LV bag and had shacked up in a Brooklyn condo (plus whatever did happen to those puppies?), but Lena is at every award podium because she’s writing more complex, and less archetypal, GIRLs. Maybe now we can shelve the “I’m such a Marnie/Miranda” talk. —DAF

Hannah wonders: Is Frank attractive in a loserly way or just a loser?
WOULD HAPPEN: Hannah considers every man a potential bone. Good for her but ew in most cases. Also, Frank = Bobby Briggs + Bill Haverchuck = definitely attractive. —FAD
DOES HAPPEN: Lena loves a loser. This is one of the more apt insights into some of the sadder and stranger things about being a 20-something-girl. I recently read Sarah Kay’s GIRLS-ish TED talk where she told her would-be-daughter: “I know that trick, you’re just smelling for smoke so you can follow the trail back to a burning house so you can find the boy who lost everything in the fire to see if you can save him. Or else, find the boy lit the fire in the first place to see if you can change him.” This is so right for a lot of girls (still find Kay’s words gutwrenching to read), but at least with characters like Frank and Adam, it’s more tragicomedy than straight up depressing. —DAF

Holding a 1979 issue of Penthouse, Jessa defends the Hannah-described “crazy vaginas” of dead porn stars. Helping a boy find his sexuality, she thinks, is one of the most noble things you can do. “Aside from being a doctor, or a firefighter,” snarks Hannah. She gently snaps back: “Who says she’s not a doctor?”
WOULD NEVER HAPPEN: This is sneakily out of character for Jessa, who’s always been on a girls-first, ladies-never tip. Are we to believe first that marriage changed her so much, second that divorce didn’t change her back? This exchange is quick and clever, lighting up the schisms in feminisms that often make this second season interesting (remember Hannah versus Marnie on “cashing out on [one’s] sexuality,” for e.g.), but by flouting character development it flaunts that as its purpose. Do you care who wins in a rigged fight? —SNP

Hannah objects to eating the rabbit that earlier that day she had held in her arms. Jessa tells her to quit being such a baby. Petula says they eat rabbit every day. “A rabbit a day keeps the doctor away.”
SHOULD NEVER HAPPEN: Jessa is right; Hannah is being a brat with all that “we’re eating your pet” talk. Those rabbits are raised for food, and why shouldn’t you eat an animal that you know has been treated humanely? I think it’s far more “natural” to feed, care for, and butcher the animal you’re eating than it is to pick some piece of disembodied Styrofoam-packed feedlot Anymeat out of the Key Foods frozen section. (Maybe this is one of those things that comes from growing up in New Zealand and knowing lots of kids from farms?) But please, for the love of God, do not eat rabbit every day. Rabbit meat is deficient in essential fatty acids, and if rabbit is your primary source of protein you will eventually develop acute malnutrition. It’s called rabbit starvation and it is real. (Maybe this explains some things about Petula’s personality.) Start raising some chickens and save the rabbit for special occasions. It’s so delicious in a mushroom crème fraiche sauce. —JRS

Someone named Tyler shows up, is announced to be a lacrosse player and a published poet. 
WOULD NEVER HAPPEN: *makes round eyes* Boys can’t be pretty and smart at the same time…. can they??? —SNP

“I just inked a book deal,” says Hannah. “Inked.” She just “inked” a book deal.
WOULD HAPPEN: I don’t draw a significant difference between an e-book and a book (a book is form, not medium), but Hannah does. Hannah also pathologically self-aggrandizes, often with that cute or quirksome habit of using grown-up words to see if they fit. —SNP
WOULD NEVER HAPPEN: It’s an e-book. I don’t think ink has anything to do with it. —JRS

In this part of America, the cool kids drink, drive, aaaaand whippet (whippet good). 
DID HAPPEN: This car scene is like Dummy, À ma soeur!, Twin Peaks, Death Proof, and every tweenage summer I spent on Big Tancook Island in Nova Scotia (population: 150). I wonder what those boys are doing now. —FAD
WOULD NEVER HAPPEN: Whippets?  Shit, is Thirteen on Netflix now? This show and drugs, man. So awkward. —SNP

“It’s not stealing when it’s from a corporation,” Jessa rebel shouts from shotgun. American Eagle Tyler, with white teeth that glow in these backwoods, echoes thickly, “I wrote a paper on corporations once. They’re totally evil.”
DOES HAPPEN: Last week I stole a lip balm from Duane Reade, a Vitamin Water from Dean & Deluca, and four dark chocolate almonds from Whole Foods. Every time I’m in an airport bookshop I buy snacks while holding a huge, glossy ladymag I have no intention of paying for, and they never know/care/say shit. Corporations aren’t evil; they’re just not human. We feel no responsibility to them. —SNP
Well, duh. Duane Reade, movie theaters, Whole Foods… pretty much any big corporate chain. Plus American Apparel, because Dov Charney deserves worse, even though I shudder to fall into any stereotype Tao Lin has inked (he’s 100% Hannah’s breed of inker). Some self-awareness though, girls: last summer, when I shaved my head, pierced my nose like a bull, and couldn’t bear to wear anything but torn denim and black, I became extremely self-conscious about my kleptomania. Like, I interpolated my look into guilt and my sticky fingers were wiped clean, for a little while. Now that I’m back to blonde, I’m stuffing so many macrobars up my sleeves, my colon can’t keep up. Stop stop-and-frisk! —FAD
WOULD HAPPEN: I have never stolen anything in my life. Stealing is wrong. But I believe Jessa “Louis Vuitton” Johansson would defend it as a political practice. —JRS

Hannah stops the car, jumps out, and runs away, saying something about being an “undiagnosed hypoglycemic.” Frank follows her. They fuck in a cemetery: Hannah shares her vision of the afterlife; Frank, his five second little death into her thigh crease.
WOULD HAPPEN: Yuuuuuup. For all her character flaws, at least Hannah is consistent. —FAD

Back in the car with Tyler, poet laureate of the United States of American Eagle, Jessa describes her depression as “freefall” and also like being “one big festering sore.”
DOES HAPPEN: That’s exactly what a breakup feels like. Right? Right? —JRS
DID HAPPEN: Fiona can attest I’m testing out new metaphors for depression every time it comes back bad, just to keep it interesting. That was a joke! Depression is the opposite of interesting! It’s like watching water not boil. Anyway, I’ve already used both of these metaphors, but good effort, J. —SNP
Hits like a ton of bricks, a toxic cloud rolling in, I’m walking through a haze, the blanket falls on top of me, j’ai envie de m’ouvrir les veines, as the world’s pain flows through me. Cheer up, buttercup, the sun will come out tomorrow, because what goes around comes around. —FAD
Fiona, you’re beautiful and I love you. —SNP

“I’m the child,” Jessa pleads, “I’m the child.” 
WOULD HAPPEN: But it shouldn’t be in this show because it’s so boring. Yes, this confrontation with her feckless fucking dad explains some things about Jessa’s personality. But isn’t having shitty parents just a bog standard part of life and a boring thing to explore in fiction? The kinds of issues caused by having an absentee dad are issues that have been validated by ABC Family dramas for going on the past 30 years. I don’t need to see another rusted-out swingset function as a visual metaphor for a lost childhood in a television show or a movie, ever. —JRS

Jessa leaves with a note.
SHOULD NEVER HAPPEN: Please don’t tell me this is where Jemima Kirke leaves the set to give birth because I miss you already. —FAD

Aimee Mann’s “How Am I Different” is the soundtrack of genealogy. 
DOES HAPPEN: Oh brother! Oh mother. Oh father. In the last couple years I lived with my parents, Aimee Mann played through our family home even more than Neil Young (hashtag Canada). After this episode closed, I started on the YouTube “Top Tracks for Aimee Mann” playlist and it’s still going. I AM BLEEDING AIMEE MANN. I’M SORRY ROOMMATES. —FAD
Just put on “You Could Make a Killing.” Remember Women in Songs? I’M SORRY OFFICE COLLEAGUES. —DAF
Woman in Songs! Volume 1, 2, 3, and then I went Interpol. I attended the first Lilith Fair you guys. With my mom. 1997. —FAD