Thursday, June 27, 2013

Girls: Hard Being Easy (1.5)

There's rarely a time correlation between a relationship falling apart and a relationship actually ending, both parties usually dragging it out far longer than is reasonably healthy. Because relationships naturally inspire self-doubt, the worry that you're not giving enough, or that it's your fault if something isn't working. Both Hannah and Marnie are at that crossroads this week, wondering if they can continue in their respective relationships, or if they're even strong enough to make actual change. Hard Being Easy features some characteristically strong Hannah material, but it's Marnie, unusually, who is the greatest recipient of character growth.

Of all the Girls, it's been Marnie who's been the toughest to warm to. Primarily because she's sort of 'straight' and bland as a character, lacking the comedy or emotional gravitas afforded to her fellow cast members. And, yeah, she's still all of those things -- a conventionally attractive albeit boring blank slate of a young woman, who just sort of drifts around on the fringes of the show. But there's a neat reversal of expectations this week when it comes to her relationship with Charlie. What once was easy to dismiss as casual bitchery is more just a front for Marnie's own insecurities. The fact that she initially tries to win back Charlie's affections despite being confronted with the ugly truth about their relationship says a lot about her sense of denial. She's trying to figure out what a relationship is supposed to be, and how both people involved in it are meant to operate.

There's a moment here where she wonders if the comments in Hannah's diary were more a statement on how Hannah hasn't been "loved" as much as her, and there's a lot of indications elsewhere that Marnie is desperately trying to 'justify' her relationship, or try and make it deeper than it actually is. The cute flashback sequence depicts Charlie as this caring, compassionate guy who gave up his time to look after her for a couple of hours. And that's all great and sweet. But their sex scene in the present day is suffocating, Charlie so needy and frustrating, in the process making Marnie's dissatisfaction with him more understandable. They just have this very toxic relationship, Marnie assuming it's something it isn't. Charlie is alarmingly dependent on her, while Marnie seems blissfully naive when it comes to her boyfriend's insecurities. Or even his general maleness. Whether it's her surprise that he watches porn, or how she's never even seen his apartment, it speaks to how little they seem to know each other. That Charlie has given up trying is just the icing on the cake. Where Marnie is too pent-up and self-involved, Charlie is just too outward and giving. It's a horrible clash of personalities, but fully addressing their dynamic is one of the show's biggest success stories so far, one that only strengthens the personalities of its core characters.

Progress also occurs between Hannah and Adam. Hannah seems to finally recognize Adam's lack of respect for her, particularly in light of her emotional outburst last week and how distorted the message seems to have come across. Adam is more distant than ever, and Hannah just winds up sitting in the bathroom feeling as if she's entirely powerless. Until, that is, she gets to take control in the one way that Adam is willing to embrace. The jerk-off scene is hilarious, fully embracing the inherent goofiness of dirty talk, Hannah eventually using it just to get a bunch of free cash. Adam is gross, but also sort of tragic in his wilful ignorance and dysfunction. I hope the show goes deeper with him at some point.

Elsewhere, I love how Hannah so readily acknowledges that most of the events in her life will go into her 'novel', but in this crass, tacky manner that can only piss everybody off. Like her cringeworthy asking of Marnie whether her diary entry, regardless of its actual content, at least read pretty well. Then there's the way she seems to be orchestrating certain experiences in order to make stories, like how she confronts her lecherous boss. It's just an interesting way to explore this woman, showing her general lack of life experience and how she's going about her writing from a completely incorrect angle.

Jessa and Shoshanna (the latter in particular) got the short shrift here, Jessa hooking up with an ex from her past and continuing to create nervous tension within the Lavoyt household. This was all fine, and Shoshanna's appearance raised a laugh, but felt lacking in comparison to the really great material given to Hannah and Marnie. The show is at least capable of balancing these women, though, and ensuring they're all given the screentime that they require, in the grand scheme of things at least. Marnie was in sore need of that, and abracadabra, here we finally 'get' her. Girls is growing. A-

Lena Dunham Director Jesse Peretz

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