“Girls” recap: Musical chairs

Hannah kicks out another roommate, Jessa's whirlwind marriage flames out — and Shoshanna discovers she's in love

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"Girls" recap: Musical chairs

The strangest about getting older is that you look back and realize you were always exactly where you needed to be. Not, as we’d like to think, because this nomadic progress constitutes some path toward growth, but because it is only in theory that people plan a future, then coexist in it peacefully. In practice, to move on by getting ourselves kicked out.

Taking leave of the premises of Hannah’s apartment in this episode is Elijah. We’ve already watched Charlie’s unbearable clinginess lead to his ejection, then Marnie’s tetchiness towards Adam lead to hers. It’s not surprising that the merging of Elijah and Marnie — on Hannah’s own couch, yet — is the impetus for Elijah’s.

This time, because he hasn’t even paid for it, Hannah, at George’s urging, gets to keep Elijah’s furniture. “I’m going to sit on this chair all day,” Hannah says, rubbing her bare bottom all over the seat as she informs Elijah that some people are meant to stay in the past, if not their green steel café chairs. “I’m keeping everything he paid for.”

And note “paid,” because, unlike some people who are old as even producer Judd Apatow, writer and director of “This Is 40,” Dunham is not shy about depicting that, whatever their level of oft-discussed privilege, the cast of “Girls” is fairly clueless about how to use it.

Because in addition to being broke giving you tsuris, money is inextricably wound into our emotional life, the means by which we prove or withdraw affection. George — with now only an ax to grind against Elijah — passes along his talismanic table and chairs. Elijah, without the financial means to pay more rent, tells Hannah they are actually square, because not only did he buy all the burritos when they were dating, but hers cost more than a normal girl’s, because of her endless add-ons. (“Guacamole and I don’t know what!”) That doesn’t count toward his rent, Hannah says, because a boyfriend is supposed to pay for his girlfriend’s burritos. Well, at least she has his ex-boyfriend’s chairs.

This is most relevant with the return of my much-missed Jessa and Shoshanna, who had been relegated briefly to the sidelines while Hannah dispensed with boyfriends and Marnie made an unholy alliance with the Wedgewood Club and Booth. The first apartment swap happens when Jessa goes out to dinner with husband, Thomas-John (Ram? Don? I forget his name in protest), to meet his parents, then proceeds to tell them about her history in rehab, her travels in Europe, and the non-existence of God.



This fills Thomas-John’s father with exactly the lust his son experienced. They — by which I mean Bob’s mother — would have forgiven her this, had she only had a job. But, having ascertained that the former addict and atheist is simply living off her son, she sums up their relationship: “Must be very nice to find yourself in such a successful situation,” she remarks in a manner Booth Jonathan would have certainly described as suburban.

Meanwhile, Shoshanna has suddenly realized she is quite possibly providing Ray with his own successful situation. At a dinner party thrown by Hannah, he says he’s “bouncing around,” and “in between places” when someone asks if he’s still in his godmother’s place. But Shosh adds seven and seven and seven and divines that Ray has actually stayed with her for the past many weeks. “Wait, do you LIVE with me?” she asks.

We thought only Elijah had a sugar daddy. But it seems like Elijah was the only one comfortable with admitting he had a sugar daddy. “You’re just a whore with no work ethic!” Thomas-John screams at Jessa, having finally managed to put words to his suspicion. However, Jessa is convinced she has paid her own rent — by making him an interesting person. “You think you are a free spirit because you’ve been shacked up with me for two months!” she says. “I’m embarrassed to walk down the street with you because you’re so average.” “How much? How much money do you need to fucking leave?” he asks. ($11K.) No one, it turns out, was really in a successful situation.

But Shoshanna’s insights about Ray, in her typical mouse-squeak rush, take her in a different direction. “You should have more interests and passions and things that you do,” she tells Ray. “You’re older than me you should have your own place. You can’t pay for anything. Why didn’t you tell me that you had no house?” Because, Ray says, he has been living in terror that she will find out that he is a “33-year-old homeless guy whose one valuable possession is a signed picture of Andy Kaufman.” It’s not that he didn’t love her. It’s that he didn’t think he was worthy enough to love her.

When you are in between places, you are also in between places. It’s no coincidence that, at the game of musical chairs Hannah assembles at her dinner party, no one has quite adjusted to their new seat. Now Shoshanna is with Ray, not Ray with Charlie. Charlie is with that new headband girl, not Marnie. Marnie is with Booth, therefore out the door, and Hannah has a new table at which no one will remain seated. Not realizing she’s about to have company in the just-kicked-out Jessa, Hannah orders everyone to stay where they are. “Don’t you go. Don’t you go. Nobody go,” she tells each member of the assembled. Good luck with that.

Lizzie Skurnick is the author of Shelf Discovery: The Teen Classics We Never Stop Reading. She writes on books and culture for the New York Times Magazine, the Daily Beast, Bookforum, the LAT, and many other publications.

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