Girls, Season 5, Episode 2
After taking center stage in the premier, Marnie is missing in this episode of Girls. She’s probably still on her honeymoon with Desi and we’ll have to wait a while to witness the awfulness that will inevitably be their marriage. I just thought I’d point that out, since Marnie is on the top of most people’s worst characters list. I don’t mind her too much, but it does make sense that she wouldn’t appear on an episode that focuses on the men in the show.
To get things running, we get a pretty funny scene that lets us know that a closer look at Fran is on the way. He and Hannah are woken in the middle of night by Fran’s roommate who is clearly on the brink of a psychotic break. The argument over Hannah’s “This whole week has been Monday” shirt exposing her “bush” ends with her pulling it down enough to show her breast. This all leads to Fran temporarily moving in with Hannah. Fran, like most people, shows some concern for his former roommate, to which Hannah replies “he’s fucking crazy. Let’s just pretend he never existed.” Pot and kettle, Hannah. Your friends have put up with more than enough of your craziness.
I’m sure it won’t be long until living and working together burdens their relationship. Fran’s clearly already uncomfortable with how close Hannah and Elijah are. Apparently, they kiss/make-out goodbye before she leaves for work. That seems right up their alley. Those two have come so far.
Elijah now works for Ray who is being put out of business by the new coffee shop across the street, Helvetica. I agree with Ray; that’s an awful name. Anyway, the two of them are great together. Ray with anyone is great. Watching the beginning of this series, I never would have imagined he’d become one of my favorites. It’s a real testament to how well these characters have been developed. The scene inside Helvetica was a little too much for me. I think we’ve seen enough of snarky baristas. While Grace Dunham did a fine job as the offended shop employee, I didn’t find it plausible that Ray would be so inept at dealing with a slight over gender identity. He may be “Old Man Ray”, but he’s not that old and he lives in the same world as the rest of these characters. If he’s going to continue pursuing politics in Brooklyn, he should brush up on his terminology.
All the male characters in this episode are struggling with what it means to be a “good man”. Adam is struggling with his feelings for Jessa, but his persistence leads me to believe Hannah isn’t weighing too much on his mind. After Jessa gives him the cold shoulder, he insists that they remain friends. I liked them as friends. They make a good pair and crossing the line to a romantic relationship risks ruining the comfort and solidarity they found in their likeness. Jessa is absolutely right when she says later that they would destroy each other. Their weirdness is complementary in a way that makes them seem like a good fit, but would ultimately be their undoing.
Even knowing that, I loved watching them at the carnival. You can tell how much fun they have together (which to me is another strong argument for staying friends). They don’t seem like two people who could have such a normal “date”. We certainly didn’t see anything like this when Adam was with Hannah. When Adam continues to lobby for more intimacy, I understood why. I liked that Hannah wasn’t the sole reason Jessa wants to keep things from getting physical. Though Hannah’s world and the show as a whole revolves around Hannah, the characters don’t. So they co-masturbate and finally look at each other to finish. They are both weird like that. It doesn’t seem like they’ll be able to keep this “no touching” thing up for much longer and if Hannah does find out, we all know she’ll make it all about her.
Hannah and her father, Tad, get the real substance of “Good Man”. Hannah leaves in the middle of teaching to take a call from her inconsolable father thinking he’s been violated somehow. Apparently, he just popped over to New York to meet up with a stranger he’d met online. In a great meeting with the principal, that’s reminiscent of her job interview with Mike Birbiglia in season 1, Hannah fails to understand why the book she’s been reading with her 8th graders is not age appropriate. Normally, one would get fired for the things she says, especially in the field of education because, you know, there are kids to protect. However, she overshares about her gay dad’s emergency to leave the meeting before getting reprimanded. Clearly, Hannah hasn’t learned anything about boundaries and I’m guessing this issue started with her parents.
Tad, who is still married to Hannah’s mom, has left his wallet at the apartment of his internet hook-up. You can see all the different levels of emotions as he relays his experience to his daughter, who is justifiably uncomfortable in learning of her middle-aged father’s sexual experiences. He’s torn between staying with his wife and being fully out. As long as he’s married, there will be shame in acting on his sexual desires. Meanwhile, Hannah gets a call from her mother (whose vulgarity after learning of her husband’s homosexuality is tragicomic genius) who tells her to relay a message to Tad that she wants a divorce.
Hannah has always relied on her parents to be there when she needs support and this divorce is going to be difficult time for all three of them. Though Hannah has changed a little, this may be the one thing that finally forces her to grow up. It’s time for her to be the strong one and it’s very clear at the end of the episode. After Hannah recovers Tad’s wallet, the two have a conversation about safe sex and the possibility of the Horvath parents staying together. Tad is sure that he and his wife will work it out, and Hannah pops his bubble of delusion by coming out with the truth. “Mom wants a divorce.” The looks on both of their faces at the end of the episode, as they slowly realize that their comfortable little worlds are being shaken apart, show some of the best acting of the episode.
Meanwhile, Elijah finally has more of a story to lead. Elijah had some of his usual great Elijah moments throughout the episode. He’s Hannah’s best roommate, yet. He’s Ray’s most disinterested employee ever (blatantly drinking the competition’s coffee behind the counter, before offering to brew it at Ray’s). I didn’t expect him to get a love interest. It will be nice to see him with someone who is not a sugar-daddy caricature of a young gay man’s older boyfriend. I look forward to see Andrew Rannells doing some more nuanced work.
Rumor has it the 6th season will be Girls‘ last. The way the characters seem to be evolving makes it look like this is all tying up for a satisfying ending. I’m not naive enough to believe Dunham and co. will have all of them get their shit together, but I’m glad to be along for the ride.