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Leave Me Alone
Hey girls, here’s the recap on Girls, S01E09, ‘Leave Me Alone.’ It goes without saying, but don’t read if you haven’t seen it already, spoilers galore below.
Well, it seems that Hannah and Marnie had been feeling resentful towards each other for awhile. All it took to get the fight moving was a trigger. The trigger in this case was an old nemesis of Hannah’s named Tally Schifrin. Tally’s the kind of girl who is all about the success and not afraid to rub it in your face. Obviously this is not someone who would mesh well with Hannah. Especially because Tally has the one kind of success that Hannah really wants: recognition for her writing. Enter guest star Michael Imperioli, known to many as Christopher Moltisanti from The Sopranos. I love when HBO keeps it in the family! As Hannah’s former writing professor and crush, she was thrilled when Imperioli agreed Tally was a crappy writer and invited Hannah to read a piece at a workshop. I would’ve liked to hear her piece on the hoarder.
This felt like a “plot” episode, one that moved the story along but lacked the thematic unity of Girls at its best. (And it was once again directed by Richard Shepard. Do we blame him, or do the producers just like giving Shepard these episodes to deal with?) Still, friendships in one’s early 20s are genuinely vulnerable—as Girls keeps reminding us (a bit heavy-handedly at times, as in that scene between Jessa and her ex-employer), most of us at that age are still figuring out who we are.
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Weirdos Need Girlfriends Too
We have to congratulate Girls on surprising us this week (Season 1, Episode 8: “Weirdos Need Girlfriends Too”). We thought we knew Adam, but our eyes opened just as wide as Hannah’s did last week when his character opened up. And Hannah still has that look of amazement in her eyes whenever she looks at her new boyfriend. We, too, have been turned into Adam fans. Just when we think we know everything, we realize we never will — another important life lesson gleaned from this show, and life in your 20s.
In this case it was Jessa (the free-spirited British one) asking Marnie, (the uptight one) about Adam. We’ve come to know Adam in episodes 1 through 7 as the perverted large-eared love interest of our self-absorbed protagonist Hannah Horvath. So far, we’ve seen him texting a picture of his genitalia intended for someone else to Hannah, playing with Hannah’s fat while in bed, lying about getting an STD test, lying about using condoms, etc, etc, etc.
I also liked that the episode gave us more of a look at Jessa, who’s the kind of girl who can make it seem like she’s making fun of someone even when she’s complimenting them. (I have this affliction as well, and when Jessa started outlining how she really admired Marnie’s commitment to good hygiene, it was hilarious.) In past weeks, I haven’t been able to really embrace Jessa’s aloof cool, the way that she always seems to be slightly detached from everybody and everything. In the show’s world, Hannah’s the writer, but Jessa’s often the one who seems to be outside of herself, watching her and her friends go through the motions of one story or another. In this episode, though, Jessa’s nature is exactly what’s needed when she and Marnie need an exit from the venture capitalist’s apartment. She’s the friend who always seems to be separate from everybody else, but that comes in handy when all of her friends need a lifeline to carry them back above the surface. Jessa’s cool, yes, but it feels more and more like that coolness has an origin story we’ll get at some point (probably further down the line than this season). It’s not simply a fact of life.
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Welcome to Bushwick (aka The Crackcident)
It was sweaty and thick in Bushwick this week, when the girls of Girls met for some partying. Hannah asks in the beginning of the episode – “how good can it be?”, and at the end it may be only Hannah that is really happy and kind of satisfied.
The warehouse party is one big game of hipster bingo — Indian-style braided headbands, high-waisted shorts, feathers (courtesy of Jessa, naturally), spirit animal hoods, and Adam with an ugly shirt. Yes, we finally see the shirtless Adam out in the wild, wearing a shirt, and we begin to understand why he doesn’t because frankly, that is one ugly shirt.
What is it about parties that captures a certain spirit of boundless possibility? As Jessa says, it’s the hope that each one might truly be the best party ever, that’s what drives us to put on lipstick and venture to potentially dangerous points unknown. Jessa says this while dressed as an extra from Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, and so I am inclined to believe her. She is ready to dance, as is this episode’s golden days of MTV-esque title sequence.
You see there are two sides to every story, and it looks like up until this week’s episode, we’d only been getting the “Adam is a total douchebag” story from Hannah’s perspective. However, Lena Dunham managed to find a way for us to sympathize (ever so slightly) with the shirtless potential sociopath. He’s just misunderstood! Why, you ask? Because Hannah never took the time to understand him. So what better time than a warehouse party in Bushwick?
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In “The Return” we went back to East Lansing, Michigan with Hannah and watched her grapple with big city girl returns to the suburbs situation. Removing some of the annoying drama between characters like Marnie and Charlie (or Jessa and the father of the kids she nannies) and taking Hannah out of NYC was just what Girls needed after losing traction in the last couple episodes, putting all the extraneous noise in the margins to focus on this extended vignette into East Lansing.
“The Return” was written by Lena Dunham and Judd Apatow, who pick up the clichés that surround “home” and see what icky bugs run out from underneath by sending Hannah to her parents’ house in Michigan for the weekend, for their thirtieth anniversary. The episode defines and redefines “home” as it applies to Hannah: as an oblivious twentysomething, as a New Yorker, and as an adult only child. And it starts with the “oblivious” part when Hannah’s heading to the airport. Marnie—Hannah’s mother hen by proxy—leans out the window to remind Hannah that rent is due next week, and admonishes her to “be nice to your parents. Okay?” “I’m the nicest!” Hannah chirps.
I don’t mean to trivialize the rest of “The Return”. My initial distaste for Girls has obviously receded, and this episode maintains the steady run the show’s been on since the third episode. We understand Hannah enough now that it’s not even that annoying tonight when she slips into her worst and most selfish behavior since the pilot.