Girls 1.04- "Hannah's Diary"
Nick Hanover: Yo, Dylan, I stole your diary and I wrote a song about it. It's called "My So Called Gay."
Dylan Garsee: My diary is called "Gays of Our Lives," know you nothing of my journaling?
Nick: I had to make it snazzier and more hipster friendly.
Dylan: Let's talk about lady issues.
Nick: So this week's episode of Girls was all about passive aggressive treatments of problems. In one corner, we had Hannah getting a new job and meeting her super touchy feely boss. By which I mean serial groper. And in another corner, we had Marnie's boyfriend Charlie finding out that Marnie doesn't enjoy his company anymore after his dickhead friend and bandmate, Ray (Alex Karpovsky), steals Hannah's journal.
Dylan: Ray seems to have transcended the medium as a character, because he was just as big an asshole in Tiny Furniture.
I just listened to NPR's Fresh Air interview with Lena Dunham, and she said the reason the series starts off with the viewer almost hating her character Hannah is because she wants the audience to have to gain that likability back. With this episode, I feel we as an audience have started to gain not respect, but almost empathy for Hannah.
Nick: I can understand that train of thought from Dunham, but I'm not sure it actually works, at least not in the way she's hoping. I've found myself liking Hannah less and less, especially in this episode, which centered around the ways she prohibits her own growth and loses more and more of her spine. Hannah recognized that both her job and her romantic relationship are deeply flawed and problematic, and in both instances, when she had an opportunity to speak up, she either didn't, in the case of the former, or backed down immediately after doing so in the latter instance. While her job situation is a little more understandable since it's clear that Hannah is desperate for income, Hannah's relationship with Adam continues to be profoundly disturbing to me.
Nick: And that's not just because he's a fucking creep. What unsettles me more is that I'm beginning to suspect that what draws Hannah to Adam is the fact that he confirms all of her worst suspicions about herself. He proves every single one of her fears about love and relationships and her own self-worth to be well-founded and because Hannah values being right and accurate more than anything else, she craves that over anything resembling a healthy relationship.
I know that we're meant to view their relationship through the lens of his "Well, why don't you just be you?" quote, but I think that's a ridiculously childish way of going about an adult relationship. I know plenty of people who are terrified of adult responsibilities and allow that to intrude on their relationships– hell, I recently got dumped by such a person– but instead of tackling that head on, Dunham felt the need to add this coda that showed Hannah getting back with Adam and surrendering to him immediately after being honest with herself and him. It was an incredibly weak moment from all angles and I'm hoping it leads to major ramifications.
Dylan: I don't think we're supposed to like Hannah yet, just start to get a feeling of sympathy for her. I relate to Hannah immensely because she's both an incredibly open person– as we saw in the opening scene where she sends a topless pic to Adam after she gets his dick pick– yet she's incredibly private with her feelings in such a way that when she finally attempts to breakup with Adam, she trembles and almost completely breaks down when telling him her feelings.
Nick: I get the feeling that Hannah's emotions will be better explored in the next episode, as her diary becomes public knowledge. It's clear that she's better about expressing herself through writing, and having her thoughts exposed to everyone will likely be a way of forcing her to open up. I have to admit that Dunham has done an excellent job making you care about a character who is such a fuck-up from a certain perspective, but I want to see her grow.
There was a nice arc to that growth in this episode, as she first tried to deal with Adam sending her dick pics meant for someone else in a creative way, essentially trying to regain his attention by sending scandalous photos of her own. And her conversations with her sassy coworkers– who may be my favorite additions to the cast, actually– pushed her towards self-awareness. But I felt like that final scene was such a betrayal, even if I understand it from a writer's perspective.
Dylan: The co-workers were amazing, and I want them to join the cast full time. Also, having non-white characters on the show should immediately dispel any criticism of the lack of diversity on Girls.
Dylan: By the way, besides the two times Wayne Brady has made appearances, how many non-white characters are on How I Met Your Mother?
Or Arrested Development, besides Marta and the house keepers?
At this point, any criticism about race in the show is purely contrarianism, which isn't criticism. Just a way to rile up the comments section.
Nick: I think that ongoing criticism of Girls (which continued and may have even gotten louder in the wake of the introduction of those cow
orkers, and especially in regards to the nannies Jessa meets) is based more on this cultural backlash against hipsterism, a term that has lost all meaning, really.
Friends didn't star hipsters (though it did receive some minor complaints about its lack of diversity). Frasier is set in Seattle, where people are arguably still segregated in some ways (no, really, I'm serious; I'm not going to murky the waters of this discussion, but I will gladly elaborate on this in the comments if requested). And both Seinfeld and How I Met Your Mother appear to be immune to this kind of discourse, for whatever reason. But Girls, with its direct ties to Vice and thus the Vice generation, has become a focal point for generational warfare. Complaining about race on Girls is really just a way of complaining about intellectual elitists, or kids in love with irony, or the entitlement of the millenials, or whatever subject needs projecting for you personally.
Dylan: It's people critiquing for the sake of critiquing, which does nothing but slow down real conversation.
Before this gets meta, I'd like to point out something that I've started to realize about this show: I hate Jessa and Marnie. And not hate in the way that I just can't relate to them or love/hate like Cersei Lannister. But their plots are boring, they're terrible to everyone around them, and there has been little to no advance in their character development. Marnie last week explored what a fling could be for the first time since high school, yet just sat in the sidelines for this one. Jessa, even though she got her baby ukelele-plucked out of her, still is the exact same free-spirit girl that she was four episodes ago.
Nick: Even Shoshanna, normally my favorite character, got stuck in a shitty storyline in this episode, as she desperately tried to give her virginity away to a guy who was a total jackass, refusing to have sex with her because he doesn't sleep with virgins since they get "attached."
Nick: But Marnie is my least favorite character outside of the dickhead bandmate. Everything about Marnie is insufferable: she's ridiculously entitled and demanding and entirely self-centered. She lacks empathy towards anyone around her and has allowed her confusion about her self-identity to be projected onto everyone around her. In real life, she'd be that friend you wish would just go away.
Dylan: According to her diary, Hannah feels the same way about Marnie.
Dylan: I wonder what's going to happen next week with the fallout with Marnie's best friend and boyfriend.
Nick: I suspect Marnie will be forced to come clean and dump Charlie, causing a rift in her relationship with Hannah, who then winds up spending more time with that creeper Adam as a result.
Meanwhile, we'll get to find out just how much of a man Lonely Island dude is.
Dylan: I hope it ends up like this
Nick: What do you think the odds are that any of the relationships in Girls will stop being so shitty? Is Jessa's pending fling with the artist dad going to go somewhere?
Dylan: I hope it leads somewhere, only to end up with them getting caught by the wife and everything for comes crashing down for Jessa, because she's the only character who is more unrelatable and agitating.
Nick: Are there any real stakes there, though? Jessa's already gone through one major disaster and emerged unscathed, what would make you think that getting caught in an affair with her domestic boss would be any different?
Dylan: She obviously doesn't care about herself beyond a superficial level, so if her actions deeply affect another person, then I think something tragic would affect her.
Nick: I think the fact that there are no well-balanced or stable characters on this show to put the others in perspectives impairs it from truly clicking with me. It's just a bunch of people behaving badly in ways that irritate rather than reach me. And every week, I have to admit that I understand it doesn't want anyone to sympathize with or "like" these characters, but considering that none of them have any real redeeming characteristics whatsoever, I just find myself more and more distanced. I don't need the characters to be likable, but I do need them to be fully fleshed out and I don't get the feeling that Jessa has any identity other than "cool girl who makes bad decisions," or that Marnie is anything other than "stuck up friend who makes bad decisions" and on and on.
Dylan: This week didn't have enough growth, and the characters are already already grating on me, he who has loved every episode way too much.
Nick: I think that will be the case for a lot of people if Dunham and company don't start developing some real arcs. Which is why I'm cautiously optimistic about the ultimate path for this business with Charlie and Marnie. Right now, it's annoying and stupid, but if it leads to both of those characters finding themselves and growing, then I'm all for it.
Dylan: We've reached the first speedbump with Girls, and I have faith that Lena Dunham will know how to control the car.
Because this show is a vehicle.
For Lena Dunham's talent.
Nick: So what are we giving this episode?
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This show is veering out of control, and it doesn't seem like there's a reason.
Nick: You're starting to get all J.G. Ballard's Crash on me here. I'm going with , I felt this was the weakest episode so far, with not a lot of development and a whole lot of sitcom-y storylines and bad character plots.
Dylan: Now I'm sad.
I like this show, almost love.
But damn. This episode was just eh.
Nick: I AM WINNING
Dylan: YOU AM NOT WINNING.
Dylan Garsee is a freelance writer/bingo enthusiast currently living in Austin, TX. He is studying sociology, and when he's not winning trivia nights at pork-themed restaurants, writing a collection of essays on the gay perspective in geek culture. An avid record collector, Dylan can mostly be seen at Waterloo Records, holding that one God Speed You! Black Emperor record he can't afford and crying. You can follow him on twitter @garseed.
When he's not writing about the cape and spandex set and functioning as the Co-Managing Editor of Comics Bulletin, Nick Hanover is a book, film and music critic for Spectrum Culture and has contributed to No Tofu Magazine, Performer Magazine, Port City Lights and various other international publications. By which he means Canadian rags you have no reason to know anything about. He also translates for "Partytime" Lukash's Panel Panopticon and you can follow him on twitter @Nick_Hanover