So, briefly: Girls is an impressive achievement and, on balance, I like it! I found the pilot hugely off-putting, and for me personally the fact that I don’t like any of the characters is a barrier to entry, but I understand that this is more or less a genre now. It’s not exclusive to HBO, but between Larry David and Tony Soprano, those guys know how to make you watch people you despise.
I’ve been known to refer to the show as Sex and the City Babies, and that might be a hard habit to shake.
Like many of you, last night I flipped from the Golden Globes, where an emotional Lena Dunham accepted two awards (one for her acting and one for the show itself) to the show for which she won them. I found the second season premiere of Girls to be a fairly representative episode of the show, if a little dull. But I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt: this is the beginning of a bunch of new stories for these characters, and I’d be more surprised if they started with fireworks exploding than with the gentle placement of said fireworks in anticipation of pyrotechnics further down the line.
That said: did anything happen in this episode? We rejoin the girls an unspecified time after the end of season one – this in itself was a little confusing. How much time has elapsed? Adam’s leg is still in a cast but Elijah’s move-in with Hannah has been completed (with not a moving box in sight, as my roommate noted). Shoshanna and Ray are not dating – can you blame Ray? Shoshanna is not so much a character as a joke on legs; this is something I hope will be rectified over the course of the season.
Marnie is still Marnie; hopefully losing her job will force her out of her comfort zone. Or something.
See, this is what I’m talking about with Girls: I enjoy the repartee and we can all giggle at a joke about emojis (assuming you have an iPhone, which the show assumes), but why are we watching? In which story are you invested? I’m genuinely curious; please leave a comment if you feel like it. I think the answer, on a certain level, is that there aren’t a lot of stories being told by people of Dunham’s age, and we want to see what mainstream culture is being told to think about us. That, to me, is the scaffolding holding up the show, and without it I’m not entirely sure what’s left.
But that dialogue! And the show is pretty! And Hannah as a logorrheic Liz Lemon is still charming, so as Shoshanna would doubtless say, whatevs.
Andrew Rannells, meanwhile, is cornering the market on gay characters I wish I could reach through my screen and punch. Here we are in 2013 and the best we can hope for is a gay best friend with a penchant for karaoke, decorating and salon parties. I find this appalling, but your mileage may vary. Elijah’s abortive (weirdly rapey?) attempt at sex with Marnie served no discernable purpose, but I’m not complaining because dat ass.
I’m only human.
Speaking of only human, what was with the two egregious editing/continuity mistakes last night? I won’t tell you where they were (it’ll give you an excuse to watch again – like Where’s Waldo? but a lot easier!), but they were Ugly – the worst I can recall on an HBO program, ever. After the second one I leaned in toward my TV and yelled “Edit your ffffucking TV show!”
The episode concludes as Jessa returns from her honeymoon, admitting that she doesn’t know where her husband lives in a tacit acknowledgement that this particular plot thread is absurd and was probably a mistake. Hannah forsakes Adam (for like seven seconds; this is my biggest gripe with the show) to borrow The Fountainhead from (note: can this please be a new euphemism for sex? Can we make this happen?) from Sydney (Donald Glover), who was definitely not a token casting choice and I’m not even suggesting that for one. Second.
As mentioned, I trust this show to get some traction in the coming weeks and reveal to us what all these events mean in the context of the story we’re being told. The people I watched with were less generous, declaring this effort the show’s worst episode to date. I pointed out that season premieres frequently work this way, and it pays off sometimes: Mad Men’s seasons consistently pick up in medias res, and half the fun is catching up with what the audience has missed.
As my friend pointed out, it works consistently on Mad Men because Mad Men accomplishes the task gracefully and never makes you feel like playing catch-up is a chore. Sometimes I hate having smart friends.