This episode was the funniest and most true installment of Girls yet. Dunham & Co. spent the first two episodes laying groundwork, and now that we know the ladies (yes, Jessa, you too are one of “the Ladies”), we can really get down to the funny business. One conversation I’ve had a lot in recent weeks is whether or not Girls is actually a comedy, which is something that I didn’t actually think was up for debate. Is something not a comedy simply because it devoted an entire episode to a would-be abortion? Please. It may be a layered, complicated comedy, a comedy shot through with genuine pathos and anxiety and even sadness, but it is a comedy nonetheless.
The two minutes before the title card flashed onscreen made me laugh approximately six times. Charlie has shaved his head (in support of a cancer-stricken co-worker — how sensitive of him), and the look on Marnie’s face is reason enough for people to shut up about her being Brian Williams’s daughter. Hannah has tarted herself up for Adam by dressing like Craft-era Fairuza Balk and she, Marnie, and Charlie have a quick exchange around their dining room table that felt as tightly written as any moment of Friends. What I mean to say is that for the first time, the show felt completely locked in, with no one wasting any time on getting-to-know-you dialogue (Jessa’s cataloguing of her recent travels, for example). This scene alone made me giddy with anticipation for the rest of the season. I may have clapped.
Let’s fast-forward to this week’s two most delicious/awful moments:
1. Marnie and the Lonely Island
Marnie goes to an art party at her job and gets hit on by one of the two non-Samberg guys in the Lonely Island. I must say, I’ve been waiting for some good art world scenes, and this does not disappoint (LCD Soundsystem on the speakers, people in tiny hats and crazy outfits! I half expected to see Maya Rudolph as Nuni sitting in a non-chair in the corner). The two walk to the High Line (which Lonely Island says is “kind of bullshit,” which is not at all true) and they don’t kiss, but Lonely Island says (direct quote), “I want you to know, the first time I fuck you, I might scare you a little, because I’m a man, and I know how to do things.” He can obviously fuck her better than Bald Charlie even though he has a bad, smushy hairdo and his pants are too short. Marnie goes back to the gallery and masturbates in the bathroom. I’m worried for Bald Charlie.
Okay. On the one hand, yes, it is likely the case that Jorma Taccone knows how to please a woman better than Charlie. (Let’s face it, Charlie was probably a virgin when he and Marnie started going out, and we all know how wild their sex life is, which is to say, not at all.) Jorma usually goes out with “French girls, and models,” and those girls have high standards, I guess. My initial reaction was, “Ooh, Marnie, please have sex with this guy on the High Line stairs,” but my very next thought was, oh my God, I hate him.
Because who says that and then literally runs away? It wasn’t until Jorma ran down the stairs that he exposed both his too-short pants and his too-short game. He is a grown man, and he macks on Marnie like a pre-schooler, hit-and-run-style. Still, I would like them to have sex at least once, if only to see if even he’s as good in bed as he thinks he is. Double points if they do it on a boat.
In the end, I think Poor Bald Charlie is a fine boyfriend — Hannah was right to suggest in the last episode that Marnie might just be bored. Sure, Bald Charlie doesn’t set Marnie on fire, but he is totally devoted to her, and that counts for a lot. I think the worry here is that if there is no sexual desire on Marnie’s side of the equation, the relationship is doomed. If it’s just that their romance has gone a bit stale and needs a shake-up, Bald Charlie could be in it for the long haul. Somehow, I’m pulling for him. Am I alone here?
2. Hannah’s Gay Ex-Boyfriend
Hannah meets her college boyfriend, Elijah, in a bar. He is wearing a scarf and is the assistant to a “curator of dance” and is now gay, surprise! Hannah cries. She asks a lot of questions, about whether he always wanted to have sex with men, and thought about men when they were together, and he says yes. At this point, my jaw is on the floor and I’m trying to calculate how much more this happens at Oberlin than at other places. Thirty percent more? Sixty percent more? He claims that Hannah has a “handsomeness,” which is what made sex with her possible. Elijah gets pissed off and says that Hannah’s dad is gay, too, because he has a stud in his ear.
Girls makes clear that Elijah is an asshole first, her ex-boyfriend second, and a gay guy third. This is a real thing that happens after college, and Hannah’s reaction was incredibly believable, quivering lips and all. This is shock, pure and simple. Girl, I’ve been there. If I had made a list of post-collegiate experiences I wanted to see translated into an HBO half-hour comedy, that would have been at the very top of the list. I’m also starting to worry that Lena Dunham has a copy of my diary. (If there’s an episode about drunkenly attacking Liev Schreiber at Don Hill’s and then running into him every day for a week, I’m calling a lawyer.)
It’s a wonderfully modulated exchange. In a very short amount of screen time, Dunham establishes an entire relationship past; I can picture their dates, their awkward sex, their sharp-tongued arguments. Hannah’s frustration here lies in the secondary places: It’s not Elijah’s gayness that rankles, it’s the wasted time. It’s not the STD, it’s the fact that Elijah knows that Adam couldn’t have gotten tested and throws it back in Hannah’s face. We are living in the age of information, and Hannah seems to be two steps behind. All she wants to have is the last word, but Elijah won’t even give her that. (“It was nice to see you. Your dad is gay.”)
I do hope that eventually we get suitable romantic partners for our Ladies. James Le Gros seems to be elbowing his way in, as the emasculated stay-home daddy, but I don’t know if that will do the trick. Maybe Jorma will surprise me and actually treat Marnie like a human. Or maybe Shoshanna will meet someone on OkCupid, and commence a completely satisfying relationship. One can always dream. I also dream of Hannah punching Adam in the face in the next episode, but that probably isn’t going to happen.
Still, the episode ends with a moment of perfection: Instead of Carrie Bradshaw’s insipid dharma talk, Dunham puts her own millennial spin on it, with Hannah taking several cracks at updating her Twitter, finally settling on the concise “All adventurous women do,” which is what Jessa supposedly said about having "several strains" of HPV. She then dances around her room and embraces Marnie lovingly. After all that, Hannah gets the last word and sends it out into the universe. Possible moral of the episode: Robyn heals all wounds. Second possible moral of the episode: so does Twitter.