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Girls Recap: Bonfire of the Boyfriends

Puppies, like boyfriends, come and go. Sometimes you have to send them back to the pet store. (No harm done, it’s only been 48 hours.) But bright, talented, attractive young people can bounce back from anything, even if they failed to feed their Giga Pets!

In this episode, the updated relationship statuses present us with new questions: Will Hannah ditch Adam for good, or let him call collect from jail? Can Elijah find a pretty-person job of his own, now that he’s lost his baby daddy? (And will it be a soul-sucking endeavor or the key to spending his twenties in fiscal solvency?) Will our remaining blissful couples ride out their honeymoon periods?

Future Republicans of America
Typically, girls are advised against dating Republicans because (1) you can’t kill your love child and (2) even if you birth the thing, who’s to say it won’t break into the gun chest as a teenager and accidentally maim you. In Girls land though, these creatures have shed their cozy pejoratives. Republicans are nice, ineffectual dudes! They drill their own hooks in the walls for those super-foldy bikes, protect your feelings, and “love how weird you are.” Even if weird, in Hannah’s case, codes for self-important and annoying. How would they know the difference? They probably spent most of college in the library. (I mean, Sandy must have gone to law school at 23.) And the racist one? That would be our memoirist, a.k.a the poster child for the liberal arts education. Goodbye, Sandy! (Read Vulture's interview with Lena Dunham on the Donald Glover scenes here.)

Too bad Sandy is boring. The “kind, sexy, responsible boyfriend,” as Hannah tells Elijah she’s ready for, is not the archetype that plays well on Girls. I feel bad for Charlie, but I don’t like him. On the other hand, Adam might be a “sociopath,” but he’s the closest thing we have to Humphrey Bogart. You can’t go wrong by calling someone “kid.” Right? (Okay, so restrictions apply.)

Adults, or “You couldn’t pay me to be 24 again.”
Every once and a while, Girls dips into the real world, and pulls out a specimen of an “adult” to remind us that the bar for maturity has never been lower. In this episode, Dunham taps her mother, artist Laurie Simmons, to flush out whatever scrap of dignity the art world had left after Gallery Girls. Who doesn’t love a woman in the bitch phase of her juice cleanse? (“In and out” might well be the new “bend and snap.”)

“Poor Reese, she has made some unfortunate life decisions,” Simmons tells Marnie of her former employer. It’s a good line, though it fails to rival her best insult in Dunham’s film debut Tiny Furniture, where Simmons played an artist: “Bob would go to the opening of a fucking envelope.” Adults. So bitchy! So successful! While our Marnie is still Marnie Michaels from Montclair, New Jersey. (This might be as good a time as any to point out the names of this show: Hannah Horvath, Marnie Michaels, Jessa Johansson, and Shoshanna Shapiro. Cute, or dumb? You decide!)

“Folks that old have different rules,” as Elijah sagely points out earlier in the episode. (All I can say is at least George wasn’t on Earthlink!) Which means they have options. Marnie, adorably, has to go “back to the drawing board,” and comes up short, in Hannah’s eyes at least. I wanted this scene to play out more dramatically — Hannah’s disdain for Marnie’s “dirty” money is a little too ironic, since we haven’t heard how much rent she still owes her former roommate.

Love Birds in Their Love Nests
Our gilded bohemian and her adorkable venture capitalist are back, and still exhibiting signs of wedded bliss, though you wouldn’t always know it from Jessa’s face. I don’t think her tepidity has anything to do with the character, because Jemima Kirke (1) plays herself mostly and (2) is not silly. Droll bombshells don’t giggle, and they definitely don’t grin, except in the context of pursuing prey. Not to worry though, I’m sure Jessa will go back to finding things distasteful in no time — marrying off the Samantha character seemed like more of a distancing gesture from the Sex and the City mothership than a permanent shift in Jessa’s development. I mean, is there a more ominous omen than the his-hers tattoo?

Akin to Jessa’s pained facial expressions, it was more than a little alarming to see Ray smiling in this episode. Since their nearly pitch-perfect entanglement in Bushwick, no one is rooting for Ray and Shoshanna more than me. But I prefer it when he’s being wry and dismissive. Don’t turn into your girlfriend!

The toothbrushing scene between Hannah and Sandy — actually every exchange between Hannah and Sandy where they aren’t fighting — is lacking. By which I mean it was sweet. Very sweet. But without Elijah there to accuse Sandy of homophobia … well, thank God for Elijah. I would never have guessed he’d be the breakout star of season two.

Clothes that Make the (Wo)man
I would just like to point out that Elijah has now worn hooded sweatshirts twice, and sometimes with shirts underneath. Am I wrong or is that wrong?

Hannah, ever the errant, ill-advised trendsetter, would have moved on from the snuggie — think Shoshanna watching TV in season one — but what exactly was that cross between a prison jumpsuit and a sleeping bag? Also something has been going seriously awry with Hannah’s hair, which is fine, but I’m confused why they don’t show that she only uses a curling iron to curl half her head.

Oh and I meant to add a hat-tip for Jessa coming back from her tropical honeymoon with cornrows like she was part of a ninth grade volleyball team at states.

The Dark Side of Say Anything, or “Now forever / is never”
In the special features of season one, Dunham guesses “the audience will be divided into two kinds of women: women who get Adam and women that don’t.” She’s right, Adam’s a complicated guy! He’s a former fat kid. He studied comparative literature. He works with his hands? Mostly it’s that he’s the closest thing to a hunky teenager we have on this show. Who else storms over to your apartment the minute his cast is off, scares the shit out of you, giggles adorably, and then demands and chugs a glass of milk? Or single-handedly brings back the mixtape, infused with the sincerity and genuine devastation we reserve for 14-year-olds who dye their hair black and swap vials of blood: “Standing outside / not making a sound / Creeping around / You destroyed my heart / Thanks.” Or stages his love-stricken position via heroic monologue: “As a man, living my man-life my desire for you cannot be repressed and to quit this pursuit would be to shirk self-respect and abandon my own manhood.” Swoon!

Only to act like a total goof, dancing around the table, right up to the moment he unwittingly precipitates the most emotionally charged scene so far this season, with Hannah yelling, “Go away! Go away! Go away!” startling herself, it seems, as much as Adam. Then, of course, the scene ends with her crouched in a stairwell, wanting to know where he’s getting booked.

Not cool, girlfriend, not cool.

Photo: HBO