The show Girls is an odd one, because I think it started exceptionally strong with an interesting cast of mostly awful people. As the series progressed, the episodes became less consistently strong and instead repeated a lot of the same threads over and over. But coming in its fifth season, the show is trying a few new things. Now it’s about where we go from here; do the titular girls learn and grow or get stuck and fail? Or perhaps both?
Hannah (Lena Dunham) has been dealing with the aftermath of her father coming out, which gave her probably the most mature moments she had in the entire series. But it’s just a piece of it, because there’s always the insecurity that drives her and leads her to do stupid things. Her current relationship with Fran (Jake Lacy), the seemingly milquetoast teacher, has a sheen of normalcy and stability. Compared to unstable Adam (Adam Driver), Fran is a beacon of calm.
But we’ve been seeing that he has his own issues, wanting to be right about everything in his own way (regardless of whether or not it is right, which it often has been), keeping mementos of his former girlfriends’ nude pictures to serve as fuel for his libido. That’s shady, and Hannah was right to be upset about it. The entire thread served to push against her insecurity about her “non-typical body type,” because despite what she proclaims, Hannah is always worried about what other people think despite thinking her own voice is significant.
Her teaching style of imagination over technical accuracy isn’t necessarily invalid, but there’s a lack of context that we don’t see. Fran pushes his own perspective, and certainly he’s right that kids should know how to write with correct spelling and grammar. But watch as he enables and validates Hannah’s recklessness in front of little student Miley. Hannah certainly pushed him to that conflict, but I think he wanted to go there publicly, despite talking about how inappropriate it was.
The ripping of the poem is the obvious metaphor for their relationship, and the patching of it together symbolizes the tenuous nature of their reconciliation. But Girls isn’t known for being overly subtle. It’s a plot thread that I find pretty engaging, because it seems destined for destruction.
Marnie (Allison Williams) continues her own odd path of growth this episode, being both insufferable and supportive at times. She condescends to Hannah about staying together with Fran, which reminds us that she’s not really one to talk about healthy relationships. She is furious (rightfully so) with Desi (Ebon Moss-Bachrach building a wall in their apartment because she wants “space”. A willful misinterpretation that’s selfish and Marnie realizes that. There’s a parallel scene when three girls are all hiding from their respective romantic partners, even if Jessa (Jemima Kirke) is suppressing that. Again, they make it obvious, but it has a nice feel to it.
Naturally, Desi seems (because he’s a child) that he only realizes the truth after she leaves, causing wanton destruction, whining and caterwauling, proclaiming he’s lost when she’s away. Again, it’s like a little boy with his mother, which leads to Marnie’s sympathies being engaged. But it’s a terribly unhealthy relationship. She may be supportive during his breakdown, but perhaps she shouldn’t be. The one time she is taking blame, now about the wall, she probably shouldn’t be.
Irony, that’s Girls for you.
In smaller plotlines, there’s almost nothing from Ray (Alex Karpovsky) with his coffee misadventures, leading me to wonder if it’ll even be resolved this season. And nothing at all from Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet), but I think next episode will make up for that.
But then there are the other two, contrasting and similar plot lines. On the one hand you have the disturbing courtship of Jessa by Adam, which gets legitimate pushback from her because it’s a bad idea. And of course she only hooks up with him because she’s mad with Hannah. A frustrating storyline in general, but I wonder if perhaps it’ll end up with these two stronger for it. Their thread ends up with a session of disappointing lovemaking, which is fascinating, because it’s a real anti-climax, unusual for this show.
This contrasts to Elijah’s (Andrew Rannells) storyline, with his newfound relationship with celebrity Anderson Cooper analogue Dill Harcourt (Corey Stoll). Everything about it is like a romantic comedy, from the “I’m okay if I don’t meet your friends” to the public kiss in the middle of Times Square. And yet it ends with a different sort of sex scene, where perhaps Elijah is letting Dill control the situation far more than he should. It’s another classic Girls “this probably won’t end well,” but I guess that’s why I keep watching.
I think the show is trying to get somewhere interesting before the final season, but I honestly don’t know if people will be happy or not. That’s a reason for me to keep watching, even when the characters infuriate me. Overall, I liked the episode, heavy-handed imagery and all. But I still think Desi is annoying.
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