Girls is back from that was-or-wasn’t-it-a-dream to its regular format, and so we return to our would-it-or-wouldn’t-it reviews. For the sixth episode, us girls—Dana Drori, Danielle Forest, Fiona Duncan, Jenna Sauers, and Sarah Nicole Prickett—debate the verisimilitude, the so-trueness, of La Vida Lena.
This week, Hannah gets an e-book deal, Jessa gets nothing, Shoshanna can’t even get her boyfriend to spend $4 on tacos, and Marnie gets even more (literally and figuratively) plastic. Meanwhile, Ray and Adam get a chance to prove they’re played by very good actors. Claudia Weill directs so beautifully we almost forget the name “Jesse Peretz,” while Murray Miller writes this most peniscentric ep yet. We’re not mad. Not even when we have to go all the way to Staten Island.
Hannah has a meeting with a 40-something editor who seems to be or have been some kind of icon and who, somehow, likes Hannah’s writing. He tells her that she worked hard for her “voice”. He also tells her to write an e-book in a month.
WOULD NEVER HAPPEN: Girl gets an e-book deal based on one essay? This guy clearly isn’t only delusional about Brooklyn. —DZD
DID HAPPEN: Maybe not so fast, but… I got a book agent after publishing one personal essay in a fashion magazine in Canada, and in New York, after one profile that went viral. They wanna get you young and/or before you develop things like “boundaries” and “good judgment” and “any desire at all for human privacy.” I’m willing to accept “getting a book agent” and “getting a book deal,” which IRL are two very different things, as happening suddenly and simultaneously for Hannah because it’s already episode six and girl’s gotta move. —SNP
Meanwhile, Marnie is in bed with Booth Jonathan, stroking his back affectionately, agreeing with him that Soo-Jin—his Blackberry-slinging assistant—is a thief for taking a bite of his ice cream.
WOULD HAPPEN: Marnie is such a pathetic sycophant around Booth, it stings my soul almost as much as her fucking Charlie last season. She is, no question, the saddest character on the show because she has no idea how sad she is (can we get her a weekend with Patrick Wilson or something?). —FAD
WOULD NEVER HAPPEN: Not to be all pro-Booth here, or ever, but… who snakes a weak-ass bite of ice cream like that? Obviously, you just buy yourself a whole container on his Max Delivery tab. —SNP
DID HAPPEN: Soo-Jin, girl, I’ve been an executive assistant. Worse has happened over less precious things than rosewater ice cream. Booth is just pathetic enough, too, that his assistant would have a Blackberry. —DAF
When Marnie gets up to go to the bathroom, she takes the entire comforter with her. Half clothed, she stands in the doorway on her tiptoes to make her legs look thinner.
WOULD NEVER HAPPEN: It’s summer in New York. Aside from Allison Williams’ no-nudity clause, what earthly reason is there for Marnie to wrap herself in a duvet? — JRS
Ray: “When people say they want to be a writer they usually don’t want to do anything besides eat and masturbate.”
WOULD HAPPEN: I live with a writer and let’s just say we always have baked potato chips. — DAF
Bitch, those are your goddamn Lays. It’s just that maybe sometimes I eat them all? —SNP
Shoshanna, upon hearing that Ray’s grandmother recommended he read Little Women, asks, “Are you a Marmee or an Amy?”
WOULD HAPPEN: Because the parallel to GIRLS (and before it, to Sex and the City) is just too good, and TV-loving Shoshanna would assume that people self-identify with only one of four female archetypes. —DZD
Hannah’s response is why Hannah, while she may not be likable (the most overused word when talking about GIRLS), is my favorite to watch. — DAF
Yes! Did GIRLS just go literally #nodads? —SNP
The only question I care about is who is the Jo March? —JRS
I desperately want an outtake of the scene where Ray recommends and lends Hannah Little Women. —FAD
Shosh tries to get Ray to take some Donald Trump classes so that he can one day own his own coffee shop. Problem: Ray doesn’t want to own his own coffee shop.
WOULD HAPPEN: Ray is such a Gen-X piece of shit. Like, as if “everything sucks” and so doing none of it is the moral choice. Every time I trip and read something on GIRLS by, like, John Cook, or the Slate bros, I read it in Ray’s hangdog snarl and just laugh and laugh and laugh, it’s so sad. —SNP
Ray goes to retrieve his copy of Little Women from Adam’s, where Hannah left it. Hannah says she cannot go back there, and when Ray knocks hard and enters this smokepit of exorcistic wood-chopping, we see why.
WOULD HAPPEN: In my breakups, and the breakups of my friends, it has almost always been the boy who seems at first stoic and disturbingly chill about the end of a situation, while the girl falls Taylor Swift-ly apart. Weeks or months later, however, she gets up all sunshiny with new skin singing “we! are never ever ever! getting back…” ANYWAY, and he is calling her, like, “I will not love again.” —SNP
The conversation between Ray and Adam, who also? Has stolen a dog? Right… is the longest scene between men since the series began.
WOULD HAPPEN: Guys talk about girls amongst themselves all the time, right? In the same way everyone talks about their personal lives and romantic desires with their closest friends. It’s only strange that this tendency is so rarely accurately reflected in literature, film, and popular culture. It’s interesting that nearly all of the scenes between female characters in GIRLS would pass the Bechdel test, but this, practically the first significant scene between two male characters, would not. —JRS
Bragging about her relationship to Shosh, whose boyfriend won’t spend $4 dollars on tacos, Marnie says, “That’s the thing, It’s happening on a fancy nice level.”
WOULD HAPPEN: If we’re talking quality, there is a CHASM of difference between the $2 and $4 taco. It makes no sense to skip out on Calexico, or even Papacito’s, for the inaccurately named “Yummy Taco” up the street because you are getting shit rolled in a tortilla for two bucks, which doesn’t fill you up anyway. (Defending the $4 taco since 2010.) —DZD
This is completely beside the point; all tacos in New York basically suck, because New York is neither Mexico nor California. —JRS
Marnie does this entire scene standing in front of a mirror being skinny.
WOULD HAPPEN: Okay, again, in defense of Marnie, plenty of people pose or angle or whatever in front of a mirror. I can’t get down with the haters-ball on Marnie’s new body BUT I can criticize every comment she’s made throughout commodity-fucking Booth. —DAF
WOULD NEVER HAPPEN: I think it might be useful here to distinguish between Marnie, the character and Allison Williams the actress. Is Marnie Michaels the kind of person who would suck in her stomach before her friend to make herself look thinner, or stand on tiptoes in front of a romantic partner in the hope that he (who had already, presumably, seen her naked body wrinkled and bent and dimpled and spread into all kinds of contortions during the physical act of love) might nonetheless be momentarily duped into thinking that her thighs are skinnier and longer than they actually are? Or would Allison Williams, the actress, cheat her body towards the lens of a camera in order to foster the same illusions in the minds of the viewers of the HBO show in which she appears? In this scene, I find it hard to believe that Marnie feels a need to impress Shoshanna with her flat tummy. And Booth Jonathan couldn’t even see Marnie’s body from where he was positioned on the bed, so the tip-toes thing wasn’t for his benefit. This physical preening reads as inauthentic to the scene not because no woman has ever tried to make her body look “better” for a lover or an imagined audience, but because it reads as Allison Williams projecting and performing her personal body issues for the camera (and, not coincidentally, trying to look totally “hot”). It breaks the fourth wall and makes the actress and her body the focus of discussion, rather than the character. —JRS
DOES BUT SHOULD NEVER HAPPEN: I hear ya Jenna, and that well said, from now, can we let her body be, pleeeeeeease? Let’s dissect Marnie’s self-important eyerolls and clueless whines, or Allison Williams’ less-than-convincing acting. Anything but the bod. I have regular nightmares that I’m a contestant on America’s Next Top Model and have to figure out positions to make myself look less short and round (but my knees, they’re bones, I can’t make them any less big!). I don’t know why that’s relevant, exactly, but I keep thinking about it now. Maybe because the body snarking Allison Williams attracts here is no different than the kind we criticize Hannah/Lena for having to brave. Female bodies are under constant scrutiny and that gets transferred to this intense self-monitoring, which, whether it’s Allison Williams or Allison Williams as Marnie Michaels, is evident here, in the flexed flesh. I mean, this is a mirror image shot. This could be as much a performance of Marnie for herself as it is Allison for the camera and both suck. So, let’s all love ourselves, giant knees and all, ra-ra, Rookie, etc. —FAD
I agree with Fiona. I angle/flex my body all the time to make it as flattering as possible when I’m half naked in front of the camera. This is all new for Williams, it’s not easy. —DZD
Fiona, I hear what you’re saying. But my entire point is that the angling/flexing is a (particularly distracting) component of her less-than-convincing acting. —JRS
Adam and Ray go on an adventure to Staten Island to return the dog that Adam stole. On the boat, Adam says: “Young girls and older ladies” are where it’s at, romantically. “It’s the in-betweens that are the problem.”
WOULD HAPPEN: Yeah, bro-dude, actual women with their like personalities and needs and shit, that shit is so frustrating. Having a relationship with an equal where something is at stake is always hard and often painful. But that’s life. —JRS
[Insert clap emojis for JRS] —DAF
DAMN, J. To quote our wonderful friend Molly Crabapple: “Do guys think of women as just this thing between them and a vagina?” —SNP
Hannah’s e-book, so far: “Untitled Document: Chapter One: Room For Cream? Her name was Murhashihawa…”.
WOULD HAPPEN: LOL. How globalized. —FAD
Hannah distracts herself with an article called, uh, “Twelve fruits that will make you fat.”
WOULD HAPPEN: Wasn’t that actually a Buzzfeed listicle? —JRS
Hang on, I’m just checking Buzzfeed’s “22 Reasons why Wawa is the Greatest Gas Station on Earth” —DAF
Pretty sure we’re all guilty of similar listicle distractions. I read ones about productivity, and ultimately get nothing done. —DZD
Jessa, suddenly materializing in Hannah’s apartment, asks “How’s your book of shit?” She follows up with, “This book doesn’t matter. It’s not going to matter to the people who read it, or to you.”
WOULD HAPPEN: She fell asleep in the tub! She needs a dustpan! Jessa spin-off show please. —FAD
DID HAPPEN: As the confirmed Jessa of many friend-circles, I can vouch for being a languorous, lizard-tongued nihilist in the best of my depressions, let alone the worst. I think it would be more accurate to have a writer talking like this to herself, but also not as funcomfortable to watch. (That’s my portmanteau for basically all of GIRLS and fuck you I’m keeping it.) —SNP
Adam to Ray, on Hannah: “She’s like a carnival game. It all seems so simple but you can’t get the ring on the bottle cuz it’s fucking rigged.”
Don’t know if this falls into a WOULD or DID or WOULD NEVER HAPPEN, but I would just like to note in passing that this line is incredibly insightful. —JRS
Adam to Ray, on Shoshanna: “She’s just some kid you feel safe with because you know it won’t work out. She clearly doesn’t like you.”
WOULD HAPPEN: Adam’s probably right, and even if Shosh still likes Ray now, she’ll stop liking him eventually, because she’s 21 and first relationships fade. —DZD
Marnie, in a plastic dress that she would otherwise never wear, queens around the party, saying hiiiiii to all of Booth’s friends.
WOULD NEVER HAPPEN: You don’t just pull a plastic dress out of your closet when you get asked to host a party by the near-stranger you happen to be fucking. At least, you don’t just pull a plastic dress out of your closet when you are Marnie. —JRS
WOULD HAPPEN: Poor Ann-Taylor-loving Marnie buys an uncharacteristic new dress to impress her non-boyfriend and his art world, only to feel foolish when she realizes that she meant nothing to him all along. —DZD
Shopping montage or it didn’t happen! —JRS
The Cornel West lookalike in line for the bathroom with Hannah mistakes her for the “girl who got her period at the Dairy Queen” on one of Ryan’s shoots.
WOULD NEVER HAPPEN: “Ryan” must be a nod to Ryan McGinley, which, nice try, but that guy has never shot anyone half so “normal”-looking as Hannah. —SNP
Ray, upon trying to return the dog, gets yelled at by a luscious, gap-toothed, totally un-city girl in a Webster Hall cap and jean shorts. Kicking ass and calling names, she reps everything GIRLS aren’t. “Go back to Yogurt Town, Kike,” she says.
WOULD HAPPEN: Oh my American Fish Tank! This girl spin-off show too, please. —FAD
Marnie, upon realizing she is not and never will be Booth’s girlfriend, says, “I think I just thought it would be cool to know you.” She cries.
WOULD HAPPEN TWENTY-FOUR HOURS A DAY IN MY PERSONAL HELL OH MY GOD: Alison Williams can’t act her way out of a plastic dress. This scene was so nails-digging-into-thighs bad, I thought Marnie was faking it to make Booth feel sorry for her before spitting in his face or something. But, of course, that would require Marnie to possess bodily fluids. —SNP
My favorite worst part is how A-Willz fails to react — not even a blink, let alone a flinch — as Booth smashes a first and then a second bottle of red wine on the floor at her feet. Come on! At the very least, you know she spent too much money on those shoes to risk them being ruined with wine-splash. —JRS
After Marnie breaks down, Booth Jonathan moves to comfort her.
WOULD HAPPEN: It is the fucking worst kind of manipulation when a dude makes you cry and then says, “Don’t cry.” Real men let you cry on your own. — JRS
Hannah and Marnie compare notes at the end of their separate, disparate, yet equally disappointing nights. Marnie, standing in some inexplicably overground subway station, tells Hannah she and Booth are in his garden, watching fireflies. Hannah, lazing in bed, says the book is going really well.
WOULD HAPPEN: Because what the other thinks really does still matter because they are, despite it all, fwiends. She’s on the Brooklyn side of the JMZ, btw, you silly Manhattanites. —FAD