Salut little birds and welcome back to Girls on Girls, the recap with the highest ratings among middle-aged men. Here, four key-demo white girls—Dana Drori, Fiona Duncan, Sarah Nicole Prickett, and this week, Olivia Fleming—get as real as possible about the new Greatest Show of Our Time.
Last night’s episode (for last week’s, click here) was called “I Get Ideas,” and girl, do we ever. It seems creator/writer Lena Dunham has been chewing on her criticism and is now spitting it back into our needy beaks. How does it taste?
The girls, once lovable despite or because of their flaws, are becoming caricatures of themselves, objects of mockery, and stereotypes of a generation (not, of course, to be confused with Lena and her cast). We used to smile when Hannah smiled, or at least we did at the end of that best, the Bushwick, episode. Now it’s cringe or eye roll or laugh at, not with. Oh and lo! A black man! Just in time for Martin Luther King Day and Barack’s inauguration, we’ve got the new black Republican character, Sandy, bickering with white “independent” Hannah over the New Jim Crow and colorblindness. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves—
In sum, last night: Hannah successfully rid herself of both of her love interests, one to the aforementioned awkward debate over prison statistics, and the other to the po-po; Marnie was told that her future may not be as she imagined and so she, carpe diem and carpe her hot bod, got a “pretty person job”; Jessa lived the dream, painting her husband in her factory-facing Williamsburg loft and naming her new puppies Garbage, Fucker, and Hanukkah; and Shoshanna tamed the beast in Ray as they pillow talked about bathing beasts together.
Now, on to the exhaustive recap. Would it happen? Would it not happen? Or, worst, did that happen to us?
FROM THE TOP:
While exercising in her room, Hannah wears the same outfit as her virtual trainer.
WOULD NEVER HAPPEN: New season, new year, new bodies, I get it, but I do not like this yogurt-y bullshit. When did Hannah have three kids and get her real estate license? Who does these aerobics? At home? Shouldn’t she be going to Frank’s Red Hot Yoga or whatever Greenpoint is doing now? No, this is a total Shoshanna move, and more to the point, Girls is supposed to have a heroine who isn’t trying to be “hot,” not one who spent her whole Basic Bitches Club gift card on some as-seen-on-YouTube shit. —SNP
Elijah’s sugar daddy-ish boyfriend, whose name no longer matters, broke up with him for reasons that cannot yet be disclosed to Hannah. Instead, we are told “folks that old, have different rules.”
WOULD HAPPEN: Every part of this makes sense: 1) George (it is George, right?) sounds just like Dan Savage w/r/t his intolerance of closeted youth, 2) Elijah easily curtails Hannah’s very brief inquisition by turning the subject back to Adam. —FAD
Meanwhile, Adam is going full John Cusack outside Hannah’s window, except it’s her browser window, and he’s made her a YouTube video with his acoustic guitar. Love sure is modern in 2008! “It’s scary with all the tools behind him,” says Elijah.
WOULD NEVER HAPPEN: Adam, what the fuck. Get SnapChat. —SNP
DOES HAPPEN: http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/men-sends-viral-youtube-love-letter-long-distance/story?id=12289620 —OKF
So far in this episode, Hannah has appeared in: the aforementioned gym ensemble; an orange, inexplicable sleeping bag; suspiciously diaper-like shorts. To Elijah, she shrugs: “I’ve always marched to the beat of my own drummer, ever since I cut my camp shirt into a halter top.”
WOULD HAPPEN: Of course Hannah thinks that this is a way of asserting her uniqueness and has been living by it since her adolescence. —DZD
DID HAPPEN: I mean, I wore souvenir scarves as tops as recently as the summer of 2008. —SNP
WOULD HAPPEN: Wasn’t there a whole Lexicon Valley episode dedicated to this precise kind of lapsus linguae? We beat drums, not drummers. Maybe once a drummer beat us (but only because we asked real nice.) Another instance, like last week’s French Salon, of Lena writing a language/literary slip-up into Hannah’s character to distance herself from her. —FAD
Marnie goes to an interview at an art gallery, where it is revealed that she, Marnie Michaels, is from Montclair, New Jersey.
WOULD HAPPEN: Totally. You know what else is from Montclair, New Jersey? Cheaper By The Dozen, a hit 1950s book that is ultra-conservative and cute and popular and incredibly boring and I think you know where I’m going with this. —SNP
Isn’t that also the name of a movie starring Hilly D? —DZD
Lena’s mom playing the gallerist: “Can you grab me juice #5 from the fridge?”
WOULD HAPPEN: Not the first time a New York show portrayed a female exec on a juice cleanse (Serena’s boss on Gossip Girl). Also not the first time Lena’s collabed with her mom (Tiny Furniture). —DZD
In March, Vera Wang (@VeraWangGang) tweeted: “Have been inspired by @glamour to try @coolercleanse. We are doing it as a team so none of us flake.” A jab at the six-juice-a-day-dieters we have all worked for, rolled our eyes at, and stabbed in our dreams, at some point. —OKF
Marnie wears Ann Taylor to a job interview, prompting the gallerist to reject her, before stating that she doesn’t “see” Marnie in the art world.
WOULD HAPPEN: HAHAHA. Is that what she said? I thought it was at least Lord & Taylor. Whatever it is, the look is dead on. Costume designer Jenn Rogien is doing a great job this season, with Elijah’s layering leading the way. —FAD
WOULD NEVER HAPPEN: Come on, she would at least go to Rag & Bone for those don’t-fuck-me blazers and shifts. Nobody who works in downtown contemporary art galleries shops at Ann Taylor. Nobody! Not even Marnie, who sucks. —SNP
WOULD HAPPEN: Especially Marnie, who sucks. Last season she wore a cap-sleeve cocktail dress to a party in Bushwick (enough said), which she probably bought from Lord & Taylor or somewhere as gross. At least at this point she’s forced to confront the fact that her warped view of ‘polished dressing’ is not serving her as well as she had hoped. Cue the Slutty Von Trapp child. —OKF
Hannah tells Sandy: “I really like having sex with you.” She means: “I really like you.”
DID HAPPEN: I’m pretty sure I’ve said this 93083902839028 times. Fuck condoms, emotional safety first! —DZD
Shoshanna tells Ray her summer camp stories—in bed.
WOULD HAPPEN: The only thing 20-something Americans are more obsessed with than where they went to camp is where they went to college. If you don’t go to camp or college, can you call yourself an American? No. —SNP
DID HAPPEN: Yes, all Jewish kids *do* go to summer camp! My parents forced me to go for years, which turned out to be an experience more like Wet Hot American Summer than like Shosh’s. We didn’t bathe pigs (why would there be pigs at a jewish summer camp?) but I totally waterskied. —DZD
SIDE NOTE: The word confluence is now dead to me. I will NEVER be able to get Ray’s pig-washing dreams with Shoshana out of my deeply-scarred head. —OKF
SIDE NOTE FOOTNOTE: Olivia, I know rite! I love the way it came out of his asymmetrical puffy lips. —FAD
Fiona, EW. —OKF
Marnie, after being told she can’t work in the art world, realizes the uselessness of her Bachelor’s Degree.
WOULD HAPPEN: It’s really hard for college graduates to accept that just because they put in four years of study doesn’t mean they’re guaranteed a job. The Nation recently published a piece on Girls vs. Shameless, and the difference between being broke and poor. Marnie (and Hannah), aspiring to careers that would emerge out of her BA, and having her parents as a safety net, is broke, not poor. She might now get a job hostessing but as Aronowitz writes, her “expectations belie [her] upbringings,” and as the “privileged poor,” she is “indignant about [her] dwindling job prospects.” Just read the article. —DZD
Ray to Marnie: “I’m personally not attracted to you at all, because I know you.”
WOULD HAPPEN: Anyone who knows Marnie would instantly be repulsed. Unless they’re really into hate-fucking. —DZD
Ray is such a negging little boner. Marnie continues to suck. —SNP
Marnie, post-interview failure, to Ray and Shoshanna, who are giving her a reason to live by telling her she’s pretty: “I mean, I’m not like a model…”
DID HAPPEN: I’ve often said this (get your fake IP addresses ready, shamers!) to deflect compliments that I secretly wished would be better compliments. But also, if a guy ever tries to pick me up by saying, “are you like… a model?” I immediately wonder how he would look in a suit at his own funeral. —SNP
Shosh calls her friend Denise to help Marnie get a “pretty person job.”
WOULD HAPPEN: Shosh is the only one who helps out her friends! She’s the only one who is not 100% completely self-absorbed; she willingly takes the four seconds out of her time with Ray to call a friend and help Marnie find a job. That is why she is my favorite. —DZD
“It’s terrible,” Jessa says of her near-life-size portrait of hubby Thomas John, “It’s because I’m painting someone I love so much and I’m so used to painting things I hate. Like my mom. Or scenery.”
WOULD HAPPEN: Hallelujah for the return of Jessa and her purrrfect accent which makes everything sound believable. This is such an efficient establishing shot for Jessa’s new life: the scale of the windows, the scale of the canvas, the scale of Thomas John’s gut. —FAD
DID HAPPEN: Almost every time I try to write about somebody while I love him, it comes out like I’m afraid of him. —SNP
TJ and Jessa get matching tattoos.
DID HAPPEN: Okay, not really. But not that I haven’t tried. —FAD
My ex-boyfriend did this with his new girlfriend three months after we broke up.Ugh. —OKF
Jessa wants a “jam box for the shower.”
WTF does that even mean? —DZD
It’s a bluetooth waterproof speaker for the shower, duh. How fucking bougie can she get? —OKF
Olivia, HOW DO YOU KNOW THAT? —DZD
Dana, that’s a conversation best left out of this column —OKF
Jessa being so blissfully happy in marriage.
WOULD HAPPEN: Jessa is Ram Dass, Be Here Now. She is the moment. —FAD
Jessa knowing anything about the news, first of all, then saying to Hannah: “Just read the newspaper, just read one newspaper.”
WOULD NEVER HAPPEN: Despite this being good meta-commentary on Lena’s own twitter wars, Jessa doesn’t even read news, she’s just playing off her husband. Jessa and Lena are both too solipsistic to pick up a paper. —DZD
WOULD HAPPEN: I’m solipsistic, and I read newspapers, therefore Jessa must read newspapers too. GET IT??? P.S. Solipsism is not of-itself evil: If your mind is constantly expanding, believing only what’s in your mind is not necessarily a handicap. —SNP
Just because you’re beautiful, doesn’t mean you can’t be informed too. I can totally backstory see Jessa dating an Occupy Wall Street-er and/or her sophomore political philosophy professor and osmosis-ing all their knowledge and setting a paper reading habit for life. —FAD
“Thomas John looks at my paintings the moment I show them to him,” says Jessa, in a perfect tautological line. “If [Sandy’s] not reading your essays, he’s not reading you.”
DID HAPPEN: Ugh, I have said this almost verbatim: “If you’re not reading my writing, you’re not reading me!” It must have worked, because a year later, my ex-boyfriend reads almost everything I write. Although, maybe he’s hate-reading. Is he hate-reading? Will he leave a comment and let us know? And did he ever find my mini clothes steamer? —SNP
Hi Dad! —FAD
By the way, Sandy is a black Republican who lives in Brooklyn.
WOULD NEVER HAPPEN: Cool story, sis. You could tell me Marnie is a lesbian dominatrix with a heart of gold (or even just… a heart) and it would feel truer than this business. I’m not even going to talk about the statistical likelihood of a young black person you meet at an independent coffee shop in Greenpoint being a Republican, because I can’t count that low. Also, that’s not the point. Every other (white) character on Girls is a recognizable “type” with gentle, sometimes quirksome, mostly thoughtful twists. Then there’s this one guy, created in direct response to criticism of every other (white) character, and he’s this total unicorn. I know Lena Dunham can’t do anything right by some people, and I feel for her/that, because it is not a 26-year-old show runner’s job to fix all that ails HBO. Still, I do think she could try harder. Nothing says “I’ve never met a black guy” like writing in a black guy nobody’s ever met. —SNP
Good point SNP. I’m just going to link to this as further authority without adding any of my own words. Thanks Ta-Nehisi! —DZD
WOULD HAPPEN WOULD NEVER HAPPEN: I really wanted to try and counterpoint SNP, mostly just to fuel fire/languish in her entertaining vitriol. But I couldn’t. Not only do I not believe in unicorns in Brooklyn (did you know only virgins can mount ‘em?), I think this is lazy plot development; like, we need a black character but we need him to not be what you would expect and we need to be able to write him out as quickly as we wrote him in. —FAD
Later that day, we discover that Sandy has read Hannah; has, in fact, read Hannah better than Hannah reads herself. His comments on the idle, desultory, and yeah, solipsistic nature of her writing do not go appreciated. She bristles. “It’s just not for me,” he says.
SHOULD HAPPEN: Yes. Yes, yes, yes. Because Lena needs to address her critics, but also needs to do so in a way that suggests her critics don’t actually exist—much like, say, black Republicans in Brooklyn. I’m still ragey about that, but at least now Lena is going to do something useful and almost brave with that rage, like have Donald Glover drop a fiscal avalanche of truth on her diaper-wearing ass. —SNP
“I never thought about the fact that you were black once,” says Hannah. “I don’t live in a world where there are divisions like that.”
WOULD HAPPEN: YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS. Of course she doesn’t live in a world where there are divisions like that, because first of all, she lives in a fucking twee fort. Secondly, divisions aren’t always like that. Where class and race overlap on a Venn diagram, black becomes not quite white, but sort of grey. Yes, Hannah has thought about the fact that he’s black, while not ever admitting it to herself out loud, but also, he’s not black the way she grew up thinking people were black. He’s rich. He’s a lawyer. He has this great loft. To her, and to many of us, he’s like Obama, you know, like, white. —SNP
WOULD HAPPEN/WISHED WOULD HAPPEN: Genau! Great repartee between Glover and Dunham (HBO GO tells it me was partly improvised) and the insert of hipster colorblindess (see: n+1’s What Was the Hipster?) is apropos buuuuuuut, yeah, the most interesting and under-discussed thing about living in New York is class and so I’ll refer back to that Nation article again and request, dear Lena, since you seem to be listening to the critics, that this be addressed b/c you’re smart and would do it well (smiley face/thumbs up). —FAD
Marnie gets said “pretty person job,” for which she must dress like “a slutty Von Trapp child.” Hannah accuses her of “cashing in” on her sexuality, a thing Hannah, of course, has so courageously eschewed.
DID HAPPEN: As someone who cashes in on her sexuality for a living, and has had to defend herself against both second-wavers who think I’m anti-feminist and others who think I’m a dumb bitch because I model, I’ve felt the hate of the assumption that what I do is frivolous and against “the cause.” Guess what, everybody: my job gives me hella earning power and will be what puts me through grad school, not to mention supporting my future family. It’s 2013! Read any contemporary feminist or the handful of lady-journos who write about sex! Read my good friend’s blog; she’s a stripper, and a lesbian, and a huge feminist. I mean, yes, I did have to pose behind the glass in a meat counter at a supermarket yesterday… that felt pretty objectifying. But fuck Hannah. At least Marnie works for her money. Hannah got her job through Ray and stands around doing nothing. Where does she get off being so righteous? Plus, Hannah writes about her sex life, isn’t that also “exploiting” her sexuality? —DZD
WOULD HAPPEN: Hannah stands there judging Marnie’s decision while eating spoonfuls of Cool Whip. —OKF
There is nothing wrong with spoonfuls of Cool Whip, MISSY. This is season one Hannah! —SNP
Hannah cutting her bangs with orange kitchen scissors.
WOULD HAPPEN: It just would. —FAD
Adam chases Hannah around the kitchen and Hannah accuses him of “SPACE RAPE.”
WOULD NEVER HAPPEN: Because there’s no such thing as space rape. —DZD
DID HAPPEN: I may have been known to make terrible jokes about things that aren’t rape being like rape BUT ONLY WHEN THE CAMERAS AREN’T AROUND, OK. —SNP
Hannah dials 911 on her phone in the kitchen, then thinks again, hangs up. Several minutes later, the cops show.
DID HAPPEN: If you’ve ever called 911 from your mobile phone, they have your address on file, and yes, cops will beat your door down even if you’ve changed your mind, or hung up, or gone to bed. They will show up and they will not leave. This actually happened to me, years ago, but in slightly worse circumstances, and with far, far worse consequences (for him). I know these laws are to protect women, who are far likelier to be victims, at all costs, which is why you have to think really, really hard before trying be a victim. The circumstances would have to be actually terrifying for me to ever call the cops for anything ever again. Also, fuck cops. —SNP
WOULD HAPPEN: My first response to this scene was, “Really? This is how feckless Hannah has really become?” But my second response was, I probably would have done the same thing. When you’re scared, you’re fucking scared, and that’s what 911 should be there for. —OKF
In the stairs with the cops, Hannah mutters something about restraining orders and Adam rebuts that he should’ve gotten a restraining order on her, “when you used to show up at my house all the time in knee socks.” She goes “one time” and he quietly amends (I missed it the first time), “…and a Jason mask.”
WOULD HAPPEN: This isn’t a “would” (except in that it’s consistent with Hannah’s character) so much as a place where I can say that this line marked the only time I lol’ed all episode. —FAD
Hannah, dejected, sputters: “I just wanted him to stop texting me.”
WOULD HAPPEN: Because by now, we have accepted that Hannah is the cross-bearer for all white girl sins; is no longer the heroine of our story; is the villainness. I’m actually kind of impressed. —SNP
DID HAPPEN: Like the little girl sent to her bedroom to ‘think’ about what she has done, and the under-the-breath excuse that follows while she’s shuffling there, head down. Because this is as close to contrition as Hannah can get. Because we have all overreacted and sulked when things didn’t quite go to plan. Because we ALL self-pity, even when it’s not about us. —OKF