Girls Episode 1.05- "Hard Being Easy"
It's taken five episodes, but Girls is finally getting around to dealing with consequences and ramifications just not in the ways you might expect. After the diary (sorry, journal) kerfuffle last episode, Hannah finds herself no longer indirectly involved in Marnie and Charlie's romantic cold war but instead placed squarely in the middle of it, functioning as a too convenient sacrificial lamb for Marnie. It's an interesting dilemma, because no one is exactly innocent– Hannah's blunt, uncharismatic portrayal of Marnie's feelings is suitably antisocial, and the defense of "but this was just something I wrote in my journal" is negated by the fact that she intended to publish the piece as part of her "essays;" Charlie is of course right to be angry that Marnie couldn't be direct with him, but he also violated the trust and privacy of someone who is basically now collateral damage; and at the top of it all is Marnie, who created the situation from her unwillingness to consider other people's feelings and continues to be the show's most problematic character.
Every person in this situation is now getting hurt in some way, except arguably Hannah, whose cluelessness about basic human interaction continues to function as some kind of burdensome shield. Charlie is the clearest victim, as he's been strung along and likely knew or at least suspected it for some time, but didn't expect his relationship to end in this manner and is quite rightly angry about how it played out. But Marnie's level of hurt is the most interesting, because it offers the show a chance to develop the character beyond the immensely unlikable, entitled brat she's been. Marnie's pain comes not from the chance that she might lose Charlie, but from the fact that she's been revealed as a pretty loathsome person, who's at best inconsiderate and at worst romantically sociopathic. Marnie has lost control of a situation she felt completely comfortable manipulating and distorting and it's that power void that frustrates her and leads to the inevitable conclusion of the storyline, where her seduction of Charlie and attempt to "fix" their relationship results in her curt dismissal of him mid-coitus (at the apartment he spent so much time improving but which she never even visited), the very instant after he's finally opened up to her completely and is therefore most vulnerable. The writers of Girls essentially have two options now: continue to make Marnie entirely irredeemable or provide her with the millenial generation version of an epic flaw, where her hubris in this situation directly leads to her downfall in whatever relationship she winds up in next– the smart money is on the asshole artist she was so turned on by a few episodes back, who seems like the ideal candidate to upend her notions of her self and her abilities.
That latter possibility seems like the most rational prediction for what will unfold throughout the rest of this debut season, as Jessa is struggling with her own questionable relationships, including one massive dark romantic cloud hanging above her head. Even as she's seducing old flames just to prove she can (in an incredibly awkward scene that managed to work in premature ejaculation and some not-so-stealthy voyeurism on behalf of the sorely underutilized Shoshanna), she's also growing uncomfortably closer to her babysitting boss and it seems clear that his wife is beginning to suspect the two are already fooling around or are hurtling towards that step. Jessa's entanglements are easier to sympathize with, though, as the season started with Jessa more or less at rock bottom. Jessa's actions since have been about reclaiming her confidence and self-image, and as unsatisfying as her encounter with that old flame may have been, Jessa made it clear to Shoshanna that what just happened was an act of power, a test of her abilities and it's no accident that the scene unfolds after Jessa had similarly explained to her boss why she was prettying herself up for an ex who had dumped her.
But if both Jessa and Marnie are involved in love problems that most of us can relate to in some way– feelings for someone you can't or shouldn't be with, sticking to a relationship out of convenience– Hannah is still residing in some kind of surreal relationship twilight zone. It's not that Hannah and Adam's relationship is impossible– there are certainly plenty of people out there like either of them– but that the show winds up structured around an awkward stop-start rhythm, as every episode now appears to end with Hannah and Adam basically ending things, only to immediately start back up. This week, the balance of power shifted, as Adam made it clear that he thought they broke up in the previous episode, when Hannah's teary admission of how much the relationship hurts her led to kissing, and the kissing led to sex, and then there was no mystery left. Adam's isn't an irredeemable character in the same way Marnie is. He is a selfish prick, to be sure, with a barrage of psychological issues (of which a whole slew of new ones were revealed here) but he is never less than entirely forthright about his feelings, intentions and expectations. Still, the sudden shift in dynamics, where his curt dismissal of Hannah led to her once again deciding to leave, only to come out of the bathroom to find him masturbating on the bed, which then led to her deciding to make him her sub, was odd and jarring and not in the way it was intended to be. As interesting as it was to watch Hannah turn the tables on Adam, throwing authoritative put downs at him about everything from the size of his penis to his general dirtiness which culminated in her demanding money from him, it was so clearly meant to bookend Hannah's other sexual problems in the episode that it felt entirely inorganic.
With the scene unfolding after a flashback revealing Hannah's ex was always obviously gay (and conveniently also setting up the origins of the one-sided overbearing servitude of Charlie's relationship with Marnie) and a present day scene featuring Hannah's attempt to first seduce then blackmail her gropey boss, Girls couldn't help but beat you over the head with its symbolism and intent. What makes it worse is that there's not much of an indication that this will remain status quo or that Hannah will even stick with this newly dominant aspect of her personality. Like its characters, Girls itself seems to be terrified of commitment, rapidly changing the development of its own cast and uncertain of the path it's taking. Hopefully Girls will reveal more ramifications and consequences in the next episode, and Hannah's personality transplant will get developed and built rather than swiftly abandoned for yet another change in the stru
cture of her relationship with Adam and if it can manage that, it just might begin to transform into the truly great show so many people already claim it to be.
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