Girls Recap: Girls, Interrupted

Photo: Jessica Miglio/HBO
Episode Title
On All Fours
Editor’s Rating

Ostensibly Girls is a comedy about female friendship. Shows like Sex and the City drove this home by insisting on plopping a lunch date in the middle of each episode so the ladies could get together and, like, bitch about their men. But Hannah is so alone, wandering around the city in that poop-colored extra-large T-shirt! Has Shoshanna admitted to anyone she cheated on Ray? Even someone as peripheral as a Facebook acquaintance could have told Marnie that singing in public is never the gift you think it is (as we learned in Ally McBeal)! Who the hell knows what Jessa is supposedly up to?

Which isn’t to say last night's episode was a bad one, or that Girls is heading in a direction I can’t get behind. Last night was horrifyingly, terribly, awfully good. I could barely sit still, and not just because Lena decided to use her eardrum scare from real life. Girls, once lambasted for being too white-privilege-y and out of touch, seems intent on dragging us through the mud of real life. And it isn’t pretty. But who can tear their eyes away from so many train wrecks?

Anaïs Nin, Marie Calloway, Julia Allison ... Hannah Horvath?
As you guys pointed out last week in the comments, Hannah’s OCD has been foreshadowed throughout this season, notably in her monologue about masturbating incessantly at night as a child and that one time she drank her tea really quickly (at the time, I thought it was some weird nod to Chantal Akerman compulsively eating sugar in Je, tu il, elle). After the title card, the first scene of last night’s episode is of Hannah picking a wedgie in an elevator. Then she picks it again, and again, and again. I am glad that Hannah’s OCD wasn’t a one-off trick that got brushed under the rug, even if, as the viewer, I’m as terribly unhappy as she is to go through these motions.

It’s sad, though — as much as it is surprising — that her mental-health issues might cause Hannah to fumble her career opportunity. The ebook for Pumpt (once on such a tight deadline) isn’t really working out. “I didn’t know who was writing them,” David says of the pages Hannah submits. I’m also sort of wondering “where the pudgy face slick with semen and sadness” went, even if I found Hannah’s rampant collecting of sexual exploits annoying at the time. Then again, it isn’t the worst thing in the world that Hannah can’t live up to an editor egging her on to exploit herself in the name of entertainment. Maybe it’s a good thing she’s being forced into being a novelist; the shelf-life on the memoir racket isn’t exactly promising.

Bad, New, Old Romance
The golden age of Rayshanna has officially passed. Ray might have moved his life-size cutout of Andy Kaufman into Shoshanna’s apartment (and taken to wearing a matching snuggie), but that not being able to pay rent thing must be starting to grate on our spastic little undergrad. “You don’t apologize, you’re famous for it,” Shosh reminds a hurt-looking Ray. Before he gets a chance to defend himself, Shosh is insisting he not be selfish and help Marnie with her dreams. But Shoshanna isn’t the bad guy in this relationship — it’s hard not to hate Ray these days, especially since he’s viewing Charlie’s success as a betrayal of some sort of bro-pact to never swing to the bougie side. It’s cute that Shoshanna can’t quite admit to the full extent of her tryst with the doorman, which suggests that she may still want to make it work.

Speaking of annoying boy behavior, Charlie unintentionally skips out on his lunch date with Marnie to talk beach houses with Marla. Why they had day plans in the first place is beyond me, but then again, the Charlie-Marnie plot is finally working. The old Charlie would never have forgotten their plans. Good for him! Shoshanna says it best when she blurts, “You could have sex with anyone at this party, including me.” Plus, I kind of like that Charlie is as masochistic as his iPhone app. The dynamic has shifted so that Charlie has all the power, while Marnie’s lost in the world — she, oddly enough, is the musician now.

Natalia and Adam arguably have the best chemistry in the episode, until their very last scene together where Adam, in a frightening move, goes out of his way to sabotage their burgeoning romance. There’s something so odd about watching him order someone other than Hannah around. I hate to admit how little such scenes bothered me last season, and it’s quite brilliant of them to flip the switch so intentionally on the male-narrated role-playing. Hannah was so game to please Adam, and her complicity with the sex act (even when she wasn’t feeling that much pleasure herself), not to mention her infinite attraction to Adam, made the whole thing funny rather than uncomfortable. The joy in this scene, though, is stripped from Adam’s face, too — he seems pained in the hallway, as if he knows he’s out to ruin the relationship but can’t stop himself. “Is this it, are you done with me?” he asks her afterwards.

When someone says “I really didn’t like that,” it’s probably best to start with an apology.

How to Be Alone; or, Cue the Daniel Johnston Song
Hannah scoots across the floor to grab a pillow and gets a whopper of a splinter. In — where else for Lena Dunham—  her butt. To be honest, I didn’t expect her to get through the medical maintenance of that, but the real peril comes from shoving a Q Tip deep into her ear. (One begins to wonder if OCD-proofing of houses is a thing.) Like any self-respecting 20-year-old experiencing a moment of panic, she lies on the floor and calls her mother. When Hannah’s mom asks who's taking her to the hospital, she responds as we all would, “Uh, any one of my 12 to 15 very close friends.” There’s something so poignant and awful about this quip, and the thought that Hannah’s lost most of her support network in the last month or so of working on her book. (Is she even working at Grumpy’s anymore?)

The real marker of someone spending too much time alone is Marnie. The girl who once covered Hannah’s ugly rain jacket as a party hostess is now singing acoustic Kanye West songs in public. (Listen to that mortifying song here.) I sort of love the crazy. I hated it — I mean, I hated to watch it, but it made for some brilliant comedy. I don’t by any stretch hate Marnie anymore, since she is the one who seems to most know herself right now: “I am on a journey. It’s my journey, and I am okay. And please, don’t pity me, it feels fucking terrible.”

Hannah, on the other hand, could use some pity. She too is in a position to pine after an ex-boyfriend. And so we finally get the Hannah-Adam reunion, though under less than auspicious circumstances. The tension between them is both sweet and heart-wrenching. Adam shrinks from her hug, but can’t quite tear himself away from her babbling about elementary school, nor can he help but tell her to “get some rest, you look pretty tired. And put some pants on.” Adam still has feelings for Hannah, and Hannah, suddenly, remembers what it was like to be on the receiving end of someone’s attention again: “'Kid.' That’s very nice to hear you say that ... it gives me a weird feeling.”

Adam backs away and goes inside to order a drink, leaving us with a different kind of weird feeling.