Was that romantic finale meant in all seriousness?
I don’t know how I feel about the new Hannah-in-crisis. One of the great joys of Hannah was that even — especially — in her blundering, raw ineptitude, she was a force that, nonetheless, moved forward. Unlike the rest of us, with our piddling one step forward, two steps back, her massive jumps of misplaced courage — “I am the voice — or at least, a voice — of a generation” — were decimated by steady, incremental self-sabotage. The best part was that, unlike us, she would have been hard-pressed to differentiate the two.
So how can we make peace with this Hannah, who, after finally getting what she wants — a good (enough) job and a nice(ish) boy — is overcome by OCD, a terribly crippling condition in real life, and possibly so in drama. A very smart commenter on Facebook recently noted that the ear-poking seems almost an act of desperation, as if Hannah were trying to dig out her neurosis with a Q-tip. It certainly does, but what about losing Adam has caused this syndrome? Is it stopping her from writing the book? Is the book stopping her from writing Adam? Was the plot stopping Dunham from writing an explanation for either of these? Hannah is poking around for answers, lost and alone. As are we.
Our episode today begins with Hannah in bed with the least favorite of her companions: her unwritten book. Her editor has called and, after bumping up her ego slightly by reminding her that she’s “the Future,” adds a qualifying “I guess” that throws Hannah back into her emotional spin, which involves searching Google for the aftereffects of eardrum puncture. Actually, something worse might be happening. What happens if she doesn’t write the book? They sue her for the advance. They sue her? Yes.
Cut to Marnie, who’s lying on the floor in Charlie’s apartment being pleasured by her ex-boyfriend, finally having found the position that, once and for all, makes it clear that he’s not the one with the vagina. Speaking of vaginas, Shosh would like Ray to take his penis out of hers. As they lie in a rigid spoon, Ray grasping one breast as if to hang on to their fast-deteriorating relationship, she again tells Ray — “This again!” — that his lack of ambition is wearing on her. Ray may think this is because Shosh would like him to get a better job. (Or, as his boss (Colin Quinn!) says, after pinning her down as the girl “with a purse shaped like a croissant,” she wants him to be able to buy her “more bags shaped like bread products.”) But those of us who have had a breast clutched in this manner know that she is actually asking Ray for that most necessary balm: to be interested in anything but her.
We then switch to the bedroom of the lissome Natalia, where she and Adam are having what first appears to be sex. He — and we — are quickly disabused of this notion, when he lays what I am going to unequivocally declare is some very mild pillow talk on her, after which she stops him and immediately acts as if he’d asked her if she was a little whore who liked his cock over coffee. “I can like your cock and not be a whore – do you understand?” she says. “Now slow down. Back up. Bear down. Not so fast! OK, a little slower for me.” Adam sighs. Whether consciously or unconsciously, he knows that her note of irritation and impatience is a kind of pillow talk too — of a far more revealing kind.
For the first time, Dunham is using the kind of semaphore that allows any viewer to watch with the sound off. (And, in fact, I did have this on HBOLT for the first few minutes, following along quite happily while wondering why a man kept speaking Spanish in the background.) But maybe sex is the semaphore with which we interpret the vagaries of life, as it is, as Shosh’s plight reminds us, very hard to have someone’s penis in you when you should probably be having a conversation. Charlie’s being good at head suddenly isn’t just a pleasure — it’s a sign he was probably sleeping with someone else. Natalia’s tedious literalness is a sign that Adam should probably be sleeping with someone else. Ray’s behind Shoshanna while she talks to the camera? He’s out. (There he goes, with his life-size Andy Kaufman!) Adam races toward Hannah, maintaining their digital face-space before he sweeps her into his arms. Now he’s holding her aloft. That naked table-tennis would have been a lot harder to interpret.
It’s a given that whenever a show doesn’t — or can’t — use dialogue to show what happens, it switches to a montage. I’m very fond of this when it’s shopping- or date-related — look at Julia in the hat! Look at Jennifer Aniston eating a hot dog with yet another man, possibly gay! — but it’s frustrating when it’s the scene we need to hear the most. In “Sex and the City,” this occurred exactly twice: when Carrie was asking Samantha to tell her how she “really felt” about the cancer, and when Carrie was asking Baryshnikov how he “really felt” about playing her boyfriend. (Well, she could have been, for all we got to hear it.)
“Girls” asks everyone how they really feel so much that it would be unbearable if it weren’t essentially a running gag. So it was difficult to see if these hoary signifiers — Marnie arm-in-arm with Charlie, smiling up at him; Shosh devouring a new man’s face in a bar; Adam rushing through the night to Hannah like his 10,000 cinematic predecessors were at his heels — were meant in all seriousness. Early in the episode, Hannah’s editor accuses her of “making him that guy, the guy we made fun of in our stories.” Laird, the holy fool, tells Hannah he had feelings for her until he realized she was rotten to the core. Her own father tells her she’s manipulative, to which she cries, “How can I be being manipulative if I don’t know if I’m being manipulative?” Is Dunham asking the same thing of us?
In a possible answer, we get to see the first line and only line of the novel before this episode closes. It’s: “A friendship between college girls is grander and more dramatic than any romance.” Well, if this is true, it makes sense that watching the girls waltz off into their boy-based romances was not only anticlimactic, but anti-dramatic. But that empty page, when the show was so rich with this story, also seems a worrying comment. Let’s hope that this is yet another gloss on the nature of narrative, and not the narrative itself. Because, if so, “Girls” just became as boring as sex with Natalia.
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. More Lizzie Skurnick.
More Related Stories
- Naomi Watts, "Argo," "Wonderstone" among bizarre Teen Choice Awards nominees
- Marc Maron on Twitter feud with Michael Ian Black: "We have an understanding"
- Imprisoned Pussy Riot member declares hunger strike
- The camp-free "Behind the Candelabra"
- Justin Bieber will destroy you if you live-tweet his parties
- "Girls Gone Wild" creator Joe Francis to jury: "You should be euthanized"
- Ai Weiwei releases heavy metal music video
- Actually, Beyoncé is a feminist
- Marc Maron and Michael Ian Black's epic Twitter battle
- Cannes: Directing 101 with James Franco
- Welcome to the jungle: The definitive oral history of '80s metal
- Burt Bacharach opens up on daughter's suicide
- Steven Spielberg to produce "Halo" television series
- Amazon set to launch fine-art gallery
- Twitter torches Dan Brown's "Inferno"
- Brad Pitt keeps breaking his silence on how boring marriage to Jennifer Aniston was
- Lars von Trier's "Nymphomaniac" to use porn star body doubles
- New Beyoncé single leaked
- The sweet, sure to be short-lived "The Goodwin Games"
- Damon Lindelof admits barely-clothed scene in "Star Trek" was "gratuitous"
- Justin Timberlake: I'm a mediocre folk singer!
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11