In the 1988 song “What I Am,” Edie Brickell says she’d rather choke in shallow water than be the sort of person who tries to find deep meaning in things that are meaningless (“philosophy is the talk on a cereal box / religion is the smile on a dog”). But Girls’ Marnie, who we learn shot a video of the song with Charlie before he split, isn’t one to pick up on swipes at existentialism. She takes the lyrics — and herself — very seriously. “Marnie’s so misunderstood the meaning of the song,” Allison Williams told Vulture earlier this month at the show’s season-three premiere. “She’s very confident and also, her first instincts aren’t always right. I think that is a lethal combination: She just thinks she’s right instantly and executes quickly.”
The video was directed by Jesse Peretz (who also directed the episode) at a warehouse in Long Island City, Queens, over the course of a day, and with its own crew. “I don’t even know how to talk about it — it was like a fever dream,” Williams said. “And the way they edited it is so beautifully weird.” She had yet to talk to Brickell about the video when we spoke, but she had warned Brickell’s husband, Paul Simon, about it. “I met [him] right after I’d shot the video, and I told him, ‘You’ve gotta tell your wife that this is coming, because she’s going to notice an uptick in ‘What I Am’ attention and I may have something to do with it.’ I do it with love — just tell her that.” That same night “he came up to me and he was like, ‘I told her,’” Williams continues. “I was like, ‘What?’ He was like, ‘Yeah, I called her. She’s excited.’” Watch the clip below. HBO: full video, please?