Japan

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I usually don’t stick around after the credits of a show to see the commentary from the creators. In the case of “Japan”, I’m glad I did. I learned that the inspiration for the episode was a phone call Lean Dunham received from long-time creative partner, Jenni Konner, at the time on a visit to Japan, describing everyone there as “a Shosh”. That’s how I felt watching the episode. While there was some concern for me last season, with Shoshanna deciding to move to Tokyo, it is undeniable that this is definitely her scene.

Shoshanna’s (and Zozsia Mamet’s) role in this collection of characters is nothing short of magical. You never really know how much you miss her until you spend some time with her again. I was holding out hope (episode previews be damned) that the whole half hour would be spent in Japan, much like last season’s “Iowa” took a break from the normal scenery. Can you imagine how amazing a whole episode of just Shoshanna would be? Even with the side stories though, this is definitely her shining moment.

Shosh has always been in a different place than the rest of the “Girls”, but she has come much farther in some ways. At the start of the series, her naivete and optimism about her future were a glimpse of what the other characters might have been like before entering the “real world”. The difference is that as she grew and faced more challenges, her spirit remained pretty much unbreakable. Though her actions at times were impulsive and short of wise, she could never be faulted for lack of trying.

So she ups and moves to Japan and it seems like the only thing holding her back is her boyfriend back home, while she is crushing on her Japanese boss. The obvious cultural differences are amusing and provide some of the best dialogue of the episode (“I’ve literally never heard that; it’s probably a Japanese thing”), but you can see how much she wants to cut ties and fully commit to her new life in Japan. This makes her “managing out” all the more crushing, and after talking to Scott on the phone we see the options floating through her mind.

Scott (Jason Ritter) is constantly referred to as Shoshanna’s “sort of boyfriend” throughout the episode. The two of them met when Shoshanna was ready to give up on her dreams and marry into a comfortable, if not exciting, life. The choice she has to make between him and Japan seems to reach its obvious conclusion. One last night out, which includes a visit to a sadism club, ends with her hooking up with Yoshi. At the end of the episode, as Shoshanna looks out on the balcony over Tokyo, she decides she’s not going back and Scott is left throwing out a bouquet of flowers at the airport.

Like I said, I would have been happy if all the action of the episode remained in Japan, but there’s some stuff going on in New York, so I guess I’ll address it. Fran, as predicted, is starting to become more of a character than just a stark contrast to Adam. I still don’t know what to feel about this new development, but at least he’s interesting. Hannah finds naked pictures of Fran’s exes on his phone and is surprised at how upset she is about it. Fran’s somewhat redeeming excuse is that the pictures are better than exploitative downside of most pornography. Well, I guess they are both right? I can’t say I care that much. The resulting photo shoot Hannah has with Ray and Elijah is pretty funny, but I can’t say it makes me any more interested in Fran and Hannah’s relationship. Of course, the episode ends with her deleting all the other naked pics on his phone.

Equally unsatisfying is the plot between Adam and Jessa. Adam is getting the same kind of work most struggling actors cling to: bit parts on episodes of a Law & Order-type show. They watch the episode’s airing with Ray and Jessa is impressed. This is nothing new. Adam has proved to be a capable actor and has received support from the people around him in the past. For some reason though, her comments prompt him to try, again, to make a move. Jessa, again, rejects him, walking out saying, “I’m not doing this will-they/won’t-they shit”. Too bad it seems the show is doing exactly that. Here’s a tip, if one of you isn’t ok with being “just friends”, then you probably can’t be friends. Ugh. More of Japan, please.

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Good Man

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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.

Wedding Day

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The Girls are back! I didn’t even know that I was missing them. Since I watch so many shows, some of them tend to fall off of my radar. This habit has lead me to sit on the sidelines while the people around me get caught up in the latest hot thing. After a while, I started to like watching things after all the hype died down because it made it easier to form my own opinions about them. Thus began my binge-watching addiction.

I made it through the first four seasons of Girls over the course of this past month. I got hooked from the first episode. I love shows that don’t feel the need to create unrealistically perfect characters. Everyone has their flaws and, boy, do they let their true colors fly. I know a lot of people stopped watching after a couple of seasons, fed up with the characters’ awful behavior. For any defectors out there, I would urge you to watch season three’s seventh episode, “The Beach House”, in which they all take turns pointing out exactly what we are all thinking. The show knows what it’s doing with these characters.

The other arguments against this show are made by people who just don’t get it. Not only that, they are angry that other people relate to it. Comparing this show to others led by prominent female voices is, in a way, giving the critics what they want, but if you look at the negativity surrounding them you can see a lot of similarities. Haters gonna hate, especially men who believe women should be focused on entertaining them.

“Wedding Day” is one of the funniest episodes of Girls yet. There are so many quotable lines, I could go on for hours transcribing them. I thought the wedding was a great way to get all of the characters on screen for the first time this year. The change of scenery was a nice touch. Seeing all of them out of their usual element really puts the focus on the people. There’s a lot to cover, so let’s get to it!

First: Marnie. After a couple of awful seasons (for her), it’s nice to see Marnie in the foreground of the premiere. She makes the perfect annoying bride, completely open to whatever, but needing final say on everything. Full disclosure: this episode probably hit a little closer to home for me, since I just had my wedding last summer. I apologize if I focus too much on details that don’t stick out to most people. The details were perfect, though. Marnie’s strange concept of her wedding (“with a nod to my heritage, which is white Christian woman”) perfectly matches the mess that would be her marriage to Desi.

Hannah (in an “I Woke Up Like This” sweatshirt that I seriously need in my life) is the kind of friend you would want to have with you on the day of your wedding, but would be kind of useless. Correct me if I’m wrong, but was it inappropriate for her to invite Fran to hang out with them while they were getting ready? Marnie didn’t handle it well, or at all, but that should’ve been something Hannah (or Fran, who is way too early) should have seen coming. I get it, though. We all have friends who hate weddings and everything that comes with them, but there comes a time when you need to step up, as Hannah eventually does.

Shoshanna , on the other hand, is totally on top of it which fits right in with her character. I’m so glad that she was in the episode instead of doing whatever in Japan, unseen. She manages the craziness of the day with the kind of focus that only Shosh can pull off. She was made for this. I was intrigued by the fact that she didn’t bring her boyfriend (I’m assuming Jason Ritter’s Scott from last season) as a date. She mentions in passing that it would mess up the dynamic of their long-distance relationship, but it’s weird that she’d come home for the wedding and not see him. This does not bode well.

On the guy’s side of things, Desi is reminding us all why he is the worst. Apparently, this is his 8th engagement and, after bonding with all the male series regulars, gets some seriously cold feet. I’m a little confused why all these guys are together before the wedding, so excuse the digging into wedding tradition for a moment. None of the guys are dressed alike, which is fine, but if Marnie is making the bridesmaids wear those awful matching dresses, I doubt she would let that fly. I’m guessing there are three groomsmen to match the three bridesmaids. That leaves Wolfie (Baron Vaughn from Grace and Frankie) as best man and Adam and Elijah(?) to round out the party. I loved every word out of Elijah’s mouth, but it seems a stretch to put him in the wedding so he can be a part of the episode. Fran is there because he was banished from the women’s space and Ray is there why? Because Marnie said he should be. Well, that’s weird.

Ray is the one who, accidentally, talks Desi into going through with the wedding. Still in love with Marnie, Ray walks into the lake with Desi to tell him how any man would be lucky to marry her. I thought he was getting ready to pull a “Graduate”, but I think he would rather have her marry the wrong guy than be jilted. Why he even went at all remains a mystery to me.

Fran spills the beans about Desi’s previous engagements and the fact that Marnie’s ring was intended for his ex- Carmen. Silly Fran, you thought Hannah can keep a secret. Rushing in to reveal this information, Hannah finds Marnie on the verge of a complete meltdown (the result of the scary work done by hilarious guest star Bridget Everett’s make-up artist). It is at this point that Hannah begins to show some signs of maturity. She really wants to say what’s on her mind because that’s what she always does, but she sees her friend is hurting. Marnie has her doubts and Hannah goes against her instincts and supports her. Clearly Marnie and Desi are not a good match. Everyone is aware of this, but at this point, on their wedding day, it’s probably too late to voice concerns.

In the end, Jessa is the one who pulls everything together. She has a habit of disappearing and showing up just in time to fix everything which is really frustrating. She walks into the episode with one of the her best lines ever and ends it with some styling magic. It’s the in between part that I’m unsure of. I thought the kiss between her and Adam was the first one. I’ve spoken to some fans who think the two are an item, but that doesn’t mesh with his awkwardness with Fran. Wouldn’t hooking up with one of your ex’s best friends kind of preempt the whole new boyfriend/old boyfriend stand-off. I guess the fact that the kiss was just a passing moment gives credence to the fact that this wasn’t the first time it happened. I’m glad that scene took place in the middle of the episode so there wasn’t too much emphasis on it. It happened and we’ll have to address it later.

I’m stoked for the rest of this season.