Girls Recap: Fake Husband, Real Brownstone


One Man’s Trash
Season 2 Episode 5
Editor’s Rating 3 stars


One Man’s Trash
Season 2 Episode 5
Editor’s Rating 3 stars
Photo: Jessica Miglio/HBO

Let’s imagine for a second a sitcom of four girls bored to death by their rich, loser husbands. Jessa and Thomas John get back together, Marnie manages to tame Booth Jonathan, and our Hannah snags herself a doctor. (Poor Shoshanna with a similarly aged husband, sans employment prospects.) Money could really change the trajectories of our little 24-year-olds! But even if it doesn’t, there’s no harm in a girl getting out there and seeing how the other half lives. After all, choosing a life for oneself is more often than not a matter of rejecting all the other lives on display.

It was an odd episode, though. I do think Lena Dunham can carry a show, though I’m not sure Hannah Horvath can.

Mister Rogers PSA or “Go back to your panda videos, before I turn off the Wi-Fi”
The episode begins with Ray and Hannah engaging in a foreshadowy riff about “the sexit.” Ray breaks out his New Balance and Top Gun shirt; Hannah is sticking to her guns on those shorty-shorts! Josh-ua, upright citizen and “I-thought-Greenpoint-was–Park Slope” real estate victim, interrupts and inadvertently confronts Ray about his management skills. The argument neatly establishes man-child Ray as a foil to adult-male Josh-ua, who will unwittingly steal Hannah away from her funnier cast members for the rest of the episode. SIGH.

We’re reminded how rare it is on Girls to cross paths with single adult males with their shit together. Thomas John didn’t cut it, since he was rather overwhelmed with populist rage and entertained by mash-ups, nor did his affably sleazy father, beanie-wearing stalker Laird, or narcissistic Booth Jonathan. Except for Hannah’s parents and Thomas John’s mother, there aren’t really many truly mature people over 40 on this show. (The chatty self-absorption of Marnie’s mother and the gallery owners don’t count either.)

We know Josh-ua is a bona fide old person because he (1) takes prodigious note of all illegal activity, (2) imagines a world where he can fix things by filing complaints, (3) thinks of cops as people to call, rather than dudes who ticket you for open containers, (4) doesn’t like loud noises, (4) can’t tell hipsters from frat boys; makes note of the “fun-times guy,” (5) buys expensive food for himself instead of making a huge deal about inviting over friends to watch you burn noodles, (6) went into Costco and got the outdoor patio grill instead of the countertop grilled-cheese-maker, and likes full-size adult wine glasses, (7) leaves a room and people say, “What a fucking meatball, Jesus Christ that’s depressing,” (8) would never win an argument with, “Let’s sing Kumbaya and cup each others balls!” (9) carries a coffee press from room to room in the morning, (10) has an immaculate white duvet cover.

Purchase your Adult Life today!!! Accouterments sold separately, or “Food in the bowl, and the fridge with the stuff”
“Neighbor to neighbor!” Ray yells at Joshua, “What a world we all live in if we could all talk neighbor to neighbor.” We’re totally on Ray’s side, until we enter the pristine brownstone of our distinguished divorcé. This is how the other half lives! No wonder he has ideas about neighborly decorum and legal jurisdiction. This is a man who uses teeth-whitener or, like his wife, purchased an at-home spray tan machine. I mean, who calls a sunroom a solarium! Ha. (Do you think the baby grand was a wife object? Or a share-tool?)

Hannah, anyway, is impressed by the Nancy Meyers set pieces, and decides right then and there that she hasn’t in fact put herself “in a Ted Bundy situation.” (Uh, more like Robert Chambers, but whatever!) She even, so uncharacteristically, admits guilt. Hannah was surreptitiously dumping trash: “It’s kind of like my vice. I sort of liked the way it felt.” (My God, if Winona Ryder had just explained it like that.) Then she gets one of her wily Hannah ideas, scrunches up her fact just so, and goes in for the attack, I mean kiss.

+5 for “I would understand if you want to have me arrested.”

Playing house like a grown-up
“It’s an unsolved mystery! I can’t solve it for you,” Ray said back in Grumpys. Who knew we were going to spend the remaining twenty minutes in a locked-room mystery episode, with Hannah looking for the meaning of life, love, and happiness. (We can’t solve this for you, girl.) For starters, propped on the edge of the counter, our heroine struggles with that age old question of whether or not to go full man-wrap with your legs — rivaled in foreplay difficulty only by the foot pop. She pulls away only to establish that the coupling is on the up-and-up: “Um, how old are you? I don’t know if that’s a rude question.” She is shocked, later, to learn she “just had sex with a married guy!” Funny how that didn’t come up.

It doesn’t matter, though, because Josh-ua (1) is a doctor and therefore a satisfactory love-object, unlike wood-working/grandma-stipended Adam (2) has potential to fulfill Hannah’s ultimate sexual fantasy: a man who never wants her to leave. Hannah is so doubtful such a scenario exists, she doesn’t even recognize it. “It’s not my first time at the rodeo,” she deadpans. But Josh-ua insists he wants her to stay, and Hannah takes a giant leap into the abyss of sexual fantasy-foreplay (h/t Adam, Booth Jonathan): “Okay, I’m just going to try something. Beg me to stay.”

We’ve come a long way since Hannah asked for cab money as Adam masturbated in front of her. (And told her to stop touching herself!) And thank God. Hannah is finally taking the director’s chair when it comes to her own hookups.

Josh-ua: I want you to make me come. Make me come, Hannah.
Hannah: I want you to make me come.

Then our lovers, as all anonymous hooker-uppers are fated to do, test the shelf-life of their rendezvous — shack up for two days, play ping-pong in their skivvies, and watch each other read the “Metro” section. It goes super well, because playing house is fun and you never have to, I don’t know, talk about bills or the fact that he’s a workaholic.

I was sure when Hannah turned up the steam in that shower she was going to break something — thus giving her uptight counterpart an opportunity to play his hand, à la Thomas John’s carpet rant. Instead she faints, allowing him to play the white-knight card and fast-forward the intimacy factor.

Taking the sex-y out of sexit!
“Maybe we should just talk and talk and talk about this all day!” Ray yelled at Josh-ua back at the café. Hannah misses the sarcasm in this little nugget of advice, and spills her tired, tired little 24-year-old soul to a rather unwilling recipient. Too bad our divorcé knows the difference between playing house and house — and he’s not about to do the latter, given how much emotional energy I imagine exposing the myth of Hannah’s altruism would expend.

But what a Sisyphean task it is to be a blogger! Going out there day in and day out to scour the earth in search of the least-appealing experiences ever. Hannah wasn’t just talking about the meat when she said “I like it super rare, if you could undercook it a little.” And that’s fine. Really. It’s probably better though to keep in mind that neither you nor anyone you know is as cool as Fiona Apple. And that people don’t want you to “save them” with the experiences you write about on jazzhate.

“I don’t think I realized before I met you that I was lonely,” Hannah says, and won’t let him get a word in edgewise. When he feigns sleep deprivation —and puts a time stamp on their little game — she’s shocked. “What’s your damage, Josh?” And, just like that, the fantasy blows up in her face like Heathers.

The next morning, she wakes up alone. Not the sexiest exit, bro! Still, I always take it as a good sign when Hannah’s left alone by a guy, looking diminutive against the landscape. No one is going to figure this out for her.

Girls Recap: Fake Husband, Real Brownstone