Girls Recap: One Wedding, No Funerals

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Allison Williams as Marnie, Ebon Moss-Bachrach as Desi. Photo: HBO
Girls
Show
Girls
Episode Title
Wedding Day
Season
5
Episode
1
Editor’s Rating
4/5

There are some television series that I obsess over when they're not currently airing, when I wish for their speedy returns and wonder what's going on with my favorite fictional couples. But here's an admission: Girls is not one of them. Girls is a series that, for me (especially when it comes to race and visibility), requires a certain amount of distance in order to enjoy watching it. It's a show that I can like in small doses — ten weeks out of the year — but that I tend to forget about after each season finale, until it returns again and my curiosity is piqued once more.

"Wedding Day" certainly got my attention — I thought Marnie and Desi were done! I thought Marnie would end up with her one true love Ray! —  and was, in a general sense, one of the better episodes of the series. It opens on Marnie's wedding day, quickly catching us up on what's happened during the show's absence: Marnie is an uptight, impossible-to-please bride-to-be, fretting about her upcoming nuptials; Shosh has been living in Japan for seven months (which makes her great at steaming clothes? And also, as Jessa puts it later, "even more like a cartoon") and in a long-distance relationship; Jessa is still "whimsical-slash-beautiful" sober and brimming with an overwhelming aura of positivity; and Hannah, with a shorter haircut and a Beyoncé-inspired sweatshirt, is still Hannah, and still dating Fran.

While Marnie's bridezilla horrors are certainly in tune with everything we know about her character, her antics can come across as easy and lazy writing — but then again, that's how bridezilla tropes always come across. Marnie obsesses over whether or not it will rain, forces Shosh to kick out Fran ("This is so inappropriate. He has an actual penis") and blames Shosh for it when Hannah balks, gets angry at the makeup artist, gets angry at Hannah's hair, and gets angry at everything before flipping over a chair and storming out. All of this is fairly predictable, as is the eventual outcome.

But let's talk about everything else that occurs during Marnie's multiple meltdowns. Surprisingly, I love Hannah and Fran together. They play off each other well, and seem to be genuinely committed to making their relationship work. He takes it in stride when Marnie kicks him out, easily jokes around with Hannah (like the cute moment where he gently ribs her for being bad at shaving her armpits), and tries his best to get along with all of the guys. Of course, there is a requisite awkward-funny moment where he runs into Adam and the two have a stuttering interaction where they find it impossible to speak in full sentences. Ray, being Ray, compares it to a "fucking E.E. Cummings poem." But Fran glides through it, just as he does when he realizes that Desi doesn't know his name, despite the fact that they once went on a bike ride together.

Of course, Adam deals with the awkwardness in his typical Adam way. One of the standout scenes in "Wedding Day" takes place between him and Jessa. Their budding friendship was an easy highlight of the previous season, as the two bonded over sobriety and started hanging out more. It's one of the few friendships in the show that felt natural rather than forced; it made sense why these two became friends. But because this is Girls, everything has to get a little complicated. Adam and Jessa smoke cigarettes together, commiserating about the people surrounding them during the wedding prep. They joke, as always, but it remains clear that these two just get each other. Jessa quizzes him on how he's taking the whole Fran thing, and uncharacteristically, Adam insists he's happy for Hannah. Just as Jessa notes that he has evolved, Adam can't help but lean in and kiss her. "I can't," she says, then kisses him back. There's a brief, almost desperate make-out session before Adam just … bails. Girls is no stranger to friends sleeping with friends and/or friends sleeping with their friends' exes, but this has disaster written all over it. Not just because of Hannah's reaction — even if she is 100 percent happy with Fran and 100 percent over Adam, she will still go down the overdramatic route — but because it's upsetting the friendship balance between two characters who have consistently grown (and grown on the audience) over the last few years.

It's going to be a little while before we'll get that aftermath, though, because for now, it's all about Marnie's wedding. True to sitcom fashion, everything goes wrong. Not only does it downpour, but Marnie's make-up artist isn't giving her the "Selena Gomez meets Jesus" look she wants, nor is the general aesthetic of an Edward Sharpe video working because Hannah refuses to, like, put twigs in her hair. They have a trademark Hannah-and-Marnie blowout argument, which leads to Hannah banging Fran in the car to release tension.

But what's most important are the two reveals we get in the later half of "Wedding Day." First, when Ray takes out some obvious frustration on Fran, we learn that he still considers Marnie "the love of [his] life." Then, after Desi gets cold feet and freaks out, we find out he's been engaged seven times. Eighth time's the charm! In a self-sacrificial scene, Ray convinces Desi to chill out and just marry Marnie. Over in the other house, when Marnie straight-up asks if Hannah thinks it's a mistake for her to marry Desi, Hannah lies and says no — even though she's aware that Desi is a serial-proposer. The parallels between Ray and Hannah — each of them encouraging a wedding they don't think should happen so Marnie can be happy — work very well in this episode.

Finally, it's time for the wedding. Jessa saves the day by fixing everyone's hair and makeup (now Marnie no longer looks like she belongs on a Starbucks cup), the girls put on some ponchos, and they all race through the grass to the ceremony. It's a nice, optimistic ending — even if we know Girls will never let this last.