Film & TV

Girls on GIRLS: Season Two, Episode Ten: We Would Never Check a Voice Mail

Film & TV

Girls on GIRLS: Season Two, Episode Ten: We Would Never Check a Voice Mail


Yeah hoes, this the finale! Your four, no five favourite key-demo white girls are back for the grandest, most romantic, and probably worst Girls ep yet. What happened to the Hannah who had her cake to herself on the beach, dreaming? What happened to the Marnie who wanted more, and where is Jessa when everybody needs her? Only Shoshanna knows what she’s about, and yet—if she no longer wants to be “surrounded by negativity,” how does one explain all her friends?

Please join, one more time, Dana Drori, Danielle Forest, Jenna Sauers, Olivia Fleming, and Sarah Nicole Prickett for the recap to end all recaps. No, for real. We can’t do this anymore. When we began breaking it down, we didn’t anticipate just… breakdowns. Do we still care? Do we love it? Or do we wish most of this never happened?


Hannah, neurotically reading message boards about her ear symptoms, falls into a WebMD black hole, searching absurd body issues involving skin microbes and the body’s capacity to melt.
WOULD HAPPEN: Anyone who looks at WebMD would skip from one irrational condition to the next; the site is structured that way. It once told me that my heart would stop. —DZD
I knew a girl who would take indigestion tablets before going to bed “just in case she got a stomach ache.” …WebMD was bookmarked on her toolbar. —OKF
DID HAPPEN: Last week I spent >3 hours on message boards ascertaining the nature of a recurring spider bite on my ass, even though I promise you, Dani, there are no spiders in our apartment. Verdict: It’s either histamines or stress or both or I’m about to die. Anyway, that’s why my book is four years late. —SNP
I have Googled dust mites on occasion, usually near bedtime. And while it isn’t WebMD, I will click link-to-link until I am so eager to clean that I either don’t sleep, for fear of being among tiny creatures, or I get up and clean things once I’ve already turned in. This usually replaces other anxieties, as it does for Hannah. While psychological issues can be manifested physically, I think it’s easier to diagnose physical symptoms, even where there are none, than emotional ones. —DAF

Hannah’s e-book editor, the gay Jefferson Hack, has little patience for her “auditory symptoms” and their putative impact on her work (i.e., lack thereof). Hannah seems surprised to learn that an author can be sued for the repayment of an advance if he or she does not complete the book under contract.
DOES HAPPEN: Just ask Elizabeth Wurtzel and Ana Marie Cox. —JRS

Marnie, mid-Charlie-lingus, asks him how he got so good at that. “No, seriously,” she says. “How’d you get so good at that? How many people have you slept with since we broke up?” Charlie half-snaps out of the moment, but doesn’t answer, saying “I’m not doing this with you.”
WOULD HAPPEN: Maybe not mid-oral, but can’t blame Marnie for being curious about Charlie’s sexcapades while she was Boothing. —DZD
Charlie, who used to have about as much sex appeal as a doorstop, now has Marnie groaning like Maggie Gyllenhaal in Shortbus?  I’d be hella curious “how he got so good at that,” too, and probably paranoid enough to demand an answer mid-moan. —OKF
This is like Dunham’s (accurate) version of pillow-talk. While I would maybe press further than Marnie does, Charlie is a boss in the best way, and on all accounts, here.  —DAF

Shosh wears her hoodie while Ray feebly squeezes her left tit. He threatens not to cum until she does, to which she replies: “Will you get out of me?”
WOULD NEVER HAPPEN: What jerk fucks that miserably and then has the audacity to expect his partner to come? —DZD
WOULD HAPPEN: Ray, which I believe is Greek for “worst.” —SNP

Adam and Natalia might be doing it missionary style, but she’s on top. Adam asks her if she likes his cock, and she replies with an enthusiastic yes. “You do like my cock, you dirty little whore,” he says. “No,” she replies. “I can like your cock and not be a dirty little whore.”
SHOULD HAPPEN: Which is why it’s so boring to watch. —SNP
DOES HAPPEN: I think her security — her ability to say what she thinks, rather than what she thinks he wants her to say — is incredibly hot. —JRS

Marnie and Charlie have lunch at Roberta’s. She is happy they’ve, you know, “settled.” He is confused. When she makes the opposite of a sexit, he chases her like an idiot, and she confesses, “I want to see you every morning. I want to make you a snack every night. And I want to have your little round/brown babies, and I want to watch you die.” Charlie tells her he loves her.
WOULD HAPPEN: Okay Charlie finally got Marnie to say what he wanted to hear, and her feelings are believable, and his monologue about loving her even when he knows he shouldn’t is VERY real…
WOULD NEVER HAPPEN: … but what would Marnie eat at Roberta’s? —DZD
WOULD HAPPEN: Charlie is right, you can’t (unfortunately) help who you fall in love with. Also, his arms… —DAF

Hannah calls her dad, who is daddishly shopping at the dadware store, to ask him for money. She wants to pay back the advance and restore “freedom” to her “process.” He wants to stop being manipulated, and says no.
WOULD HAPPEN: “No. More. Mon-ey.” Remember? Hannah’s parents cut her off in Season One, Episode One, and if dad goes back on that threat, mom’s gonna have a hairball. —SNP
His speech is also totally on point; Hannah is manipulative and, in yet another moment of weakness, she goes running to her parents. —DZD

Marnie comes to visit Hannah, who first doesn’t answer the door, and thenwhen Marnie enters anywayhides. Her laptop is open to My Book.doc. The first and only sentence written is, “A friendship between college girls is grander and more dramatic than any romance…”
WOULD HAPPEN: Hannah is faster and faster regressing from psychic adolescence into childhood, of which nothing is a surer sign than the first-person possessive. Please, if you’re an adult, you call it UghThisBook.doc. —SNP

Hannah cuts her hair. It’s obvious that the bangs she’s cutting are actually glued-in hair extensions.
DID HAPPEN: A couple weeks ago when I was on deadline for an article, I reached a point where all I could think about was hair. I would turn off the Internet, write a paragraph, then turn the Internet back on and reward myself with another ten sweet minutes of Googling street style photos of women with amazing dream hair. As soon as I turned in the piece I went to the bathroom and gave myself an undercut. —JRS
WOULD HAPPEN: Haircut-in-identity-crisis is how we, collectively, deal with having “rotten insides” — how else are we supposed to express sheer emotional turmoil? —OKF
I’ve recently started cutting my own hair, sometimes without a mirror, and often, as in weekly, in the a.m. (look, I just want blunt and clean ends). One of my best friends is a hairstylist, and shudders every time I tell him. And while he swears that I’m one inch away from attacking someone with an umbrella, I feel strangely in control and content. Delusional, perhaps? —DAF  

Hannah asks her ex-junkie neighbor, Laird, to fix said haircut. Improbably, he makes it worse. She does not notice, being too busy delivering a mental state of the union address, after which she quasi-faints on the floor. When he moves to help her, she assumes he’s making a move.
WOULD HAPPEN:It’s like when Dr. Patrick Wilson invited her into his brownstone for a glass of water, and Hannah responded by assuming that he would rape and murder her (and then threw herself, literally flung herself, at him). She routinely thinks that being alone in a room with a man is necessarily a threat to her body, or person, which seems counter-productive to gender equality. —DZD
Hannah’s predisposition to victimhood is my least favourite thing about her. Is she crazy to think anyone could be a rapist? No; nor does she think so. She thinks any stranger could be a rapist, which is an idea formed by childhood paranoia, not informed by research, which strongly suggests you’re most likely to be raped by someone you know. Also, if you have so much to fear, why the fuck are you still so defenseless? —SNP

Laird: “You are the most self-involved, presumptuous person I have ever met. Ever. I had feelings for you until I realized how rotten your insides are.”
WOULD NEVER HAPPEN: Come onnnnn, Laird was a coke addict. Heroin addict? Whichever: I’m going to be judgmental enough to assume he’s met some fairly corroded, corrosive peeps. Lena’s meta-criticisms have metastasized a line too far. —SNP
WOULD HAPPEN: I don’t know, I think Hannah is horrible enough in this scene to make anyone respond that way. —DZD

Shosh, who definitely changed her outfit four times first, finally breaks up with Ray. He clutches one of her sixty-four pillows. “I love you kind of like I feel sorry for a monkey,” she says, “because he’s trapped and his cage is so ugly.”
WOULD HAPPEN: Such an insult on top of injury! But I think a lot of women fall in love for this very reason, without realizing it. Until one day they do, and they blurt something like this out. —DAF

No one gets out of it unless there’s someone on the docket,” says Ray, who imagines that someone to be a tall, blonde guy.
WOULD NEVER HAPPEN: There is no way that Ray actually believes this absurd falsity. He’s perceptive and old enough to know that people lose interest, and when Charlie and Marnie broke up, Ray did not accuse her of having someone on the docket. This is just bad dialogue. —DZD
WOULD HAPPEN: Totally plausible. A lot of men/women don’t let one go, until they’ve lined up the next. A friend’s mom always and I think accurately, if not a little Venus-Mars-ish, says that women check out of a relationship while in them, not ending it until they’re over it. Men, on the hand, often end a relationship more on a whim…
There is no doubt having a crush “on the docket” makes it easier to get out of a toxic relationship that you know you have no business being in, but struggle to leave because you still love the person. Still, Ray’s comment shows his lack of self-awareness; he can’t possibly blame himself, so he casts around for “someone else.” —OKF

I can’t be surrounded by your negativity while I’m trying to become a fully formed human,” she says. “I can’t be the only thing you like.”
DID HAPPEN: My Gen-X-bf used to not-joke that he only liked basketball, hot wings, and I forget the other thing, but he really, really loved me. That wasn’t enough. I wanted (…want?) someone whose world was as big as I wanted mine to be, or bigger, and would take my hand and show me, or be shown. In fact, he did show me so many things, but not so many of them were new. It felt like once he had found me, he could stop looking around. Worse: He seemed to resent my finding anything new, after or beyond him, as though it threatened my authenticity, or ours, or just his. —SNP

Hannah calls Jessa and leaves a voicemail. Perhaps because she knows it’s all in vain, she calls Marnie “anorexic” and Adam her “stalker ex-boyfriend.”
WOULD HAPPEN: But actually he’s neither. —JRS
The anguish of having your best friend go MIA in the midst of your meltdown/toddler tantrum/OCD relapse/Bad Hair Day is five per cent “I hope she’s okay,” and 95 per cent “how dare she leave me alone.” —OKF
And can I just say that Jessa’s “I would never check a voice mail” is my favourite line on this very lineful episode? BOW DOWN. —SNP
When I was 16 and got my first cell phone (I am old), I mentioned in my outgoing voicemail message that I did not intend to ever check that phone’s voicemail. My then-boyfriend was horrified and made me change it. Now, over a decade later, the Times is on my side. And I have an app that transcribes voicemail into text. In conclusion, #teamjessa. —JRS

Having turned to her parents, to Laird, and to Jessa’s voicemail, with no solace, Hannah calls Adam. Or rather, “accidentally” FaceTimes him. She tries to sound chipper: “I just wanted to check in on you.”
WOULD HAPPEN: Phone call by phone call, Hannah is appealing to those she believes will judge her least… which explains why
DID HAPPEN: Unfortunately, there is no better validation that you’re still a loved human being by someone—anyone—than from your ex-boyfriend, whom you broke up with. Not too long ago, I had an exceptionally bad habit of doing this while dating a string of jerks. It’s like the smiling, talking, back-tickling version of salted caramel ice-cream when all you want to do is cry. Oops. —OKF

Romantic validation montage set to heart-swelling music by the band “fun.” Adam goes back to Hannah, Charlie goes back to Marnie, and Shosh gets with an “adult male blonde” in a bar.
WOULD NEVER HAPPEN: Dunham wanted her characters to exhibit some arc of change this season, but how have either Hannah or Marnie evolved? They both go back to their old boyfriends, whom they once hated, and Hannah is even more delusional than before. The only one who has evolved is Shoshanna, and even then, only in the realm of sex and coupledom. —DZD
This all felt a little too rom-com for me. I’m fine with the narrative, but in a montage, to over-the-top music, at the end of the end of the season, these gestures felt too desperately grand. Dunham was one cliche away from Adam standing at a window with a stereo held high above his head. —DAF
But I loved it, regardless. —OKF

Adam breaks down the door to Hannah’s apartment, jumps over the couch, and scoops her up from under her covers. They kiss.
WOULD NEVER HAPPEN: I feel dramatically less secure behind my standard-issue steel New York City apartment door with a deadbolt and a chain lock now that I know a tall guy of average build can apparently knock it down with one heave-ho. —JRS
WOULD HAPPEN: In sick, sick dreams. Look. I cried real tears at what my friend Malcom called “an iPhone commercial” of an ending, because in my worst of hearts I want this too. While I’ve never related most to Hannah, I am often the weakest kind of writer—not talent-wise, I hope, but temperament-wise. I’ve also missed deadlines for no better reason than a mood disorder. I also can’t handle money… or maybe it’s time. And I want to (believe I can) take care of myself, but I make such a steaming mess of it that sometimes all I want is for someone strong-armed to clean up after me.

But do I want to want it? Should I want it? Should this be given to me, and to the viewers of Girls, with so little shame?

I think what feels most wrong about this scene isn’t that she needs to be taken care of, because everybody sometimes does. It’s that she has almost never taken care of anybody else. So gender equality is some of the trouble, and so is romantic cliche, but mostly it’s the lack of basic human reciprocity. The last time I needed someone to hold me this badly was after I’d spent a night trying to fix a deeply addicted friend, only to call an ambulance and then get in a cab alone, silent and horrified. I went straight to a guy’s house, yes. But there was a chain of demand at work. That Hannah remains, at season’s end, on the receiving side of help is fucked as hell, and worse than anti-heroism. There should be empathy, but here there’s only sympathy, and even that is hard to feel. —SNP