Girls Review: "Hannah's Diary" (Episode 1.04)
I don’t know if camera phones existed when I was 24, but even if they did I never would’ve taken a dick pic with one. Well, maybe if I was as well-endowed as Adam apparently is. That’s the type of detail that the shows Girls is often (and often inaccurately) compared to never had the opportunity to explore. Although, again, I don’t see George Costanza sending Susan a photo of his junk even if he had an iPhone.
So Hannah gets that text before the opening credits run. She’s shocked and flattered, her roommate Marnie thinks it’s gross and hilarious, and Marnie’s boyfriend Charlie is impressed (maybe threatened?) by Adam’s manhood. And then, as Charlie holds the phone, Hannah gets a follow-up text saying the picture wasn’t actually meant for her. Just like that Hannah is embarrassed in front of her friends, but she’s so insecure in her relationship with Adam that she appreciates any attention, even if it was originally meant for somebody else. Girls is quickly establishing itself as a reliable source of arresting and hilarious cold opens. It’s not quite as accomplished in that regard as Eastbound & Down (which, really, ought to win some kind of special Emmy for its opening scenes), but writer/director/creator/star Lena Dunham knows how to start a show off right.
When did Hannah get a job? Her money issues are such an important part of the show that you’d think they’d make a bigger deal about that. Instead we just see her at work one day, doing basic administrative stuff for Richard Masur, who you probably recognize if you’ve watched any television over the last 30 years or so. You should at least recognize his beard. Masur’s a lawyer of some sort who is very hands-on with his staff. He tries to help Hannah relax with a friendly back massage that ends with a lengthy, unapologetic boob-grab. Her (apparently all female) coworkers admit he’s done the same to them, but that they’re okay with it because the pay is nice and Masur doesn’t care about how hard they work or if they show up late. Like the abortion scene from two weeks ago, Dunham finds humor in the discomfort of sexual harassment.
The journal of the title fuels the drama of the next two episodes. Charlie and his absolute asshole friend Ray are having band practice in Marnie and Hannah’s apartment, which basically means they’re just talking about what inconsequential bongo moves Ray will bust out at Charlie’s next open mic embarrassment. When Ray realizes they’re alone in the girls’ apartment he immediately starts rifling through their drawers and closets. Charlie doesn’t do anything to stop him. Eventually Ray finds Hannah’s diary, through which Charlie learns that Marnie complains about him constantly and is thinking about breaking up. This leads to an amazingly awkward ending, with Charlie publically calling Marnie out through a very bitter song he plays at the show. You see it coming like a car wreck and you just wish you could stop what’s about to happen. At least now Marnie might be free from this sensitive tool and his horrible, horrible music.
Meanwhile, Shoshanna meets a nice young Jewish boy who is fully prepared to do whatever she wants until he learns she’s a virgin. Virgins are too clingy, you see. And there might be blood, and he doesn’t like blood. She should get back to him once she fixes that. Even the random hook-up dudes on this show are total assholes.
Our final girl, Jessa, briefly loses the two kids she babysits while arguing for a nanny union at a playground. The other nannies she talks to comprise a variety of races and ethnicities. I don’t have any problems with this scene or these characters. With the controversy over Girls’ lack of color, though, I’m sure there are other critics and pundits who will complain about how the few characters of color we’ve seen so far are domestic servants or (in the case of Hannah’s coworkers) willing to let their boss molest them due to the perks of the job. I don’t think there are any intentional prejudices on display here, but this episode does provide those critics with more ammunition.
James LeGros, the shaggy fortysomething that Jessa babysits for, isn’t quite an asshole yet, but I’m sure it’s coming. He’s older, more mature, and obviously struggling hard to not do anything more than flirt with the babysitter. It doesn’t help to have a totally hipstered out Horatio Sanz basically egging him on after the two run into Jessa on the street. With his scarf and Mao hat Sanz looks like a hipster parody from an SNL skit. LeGros still has his dignity, but these other cads and losers make Dunham’s Girls far more sympathetic than they were in the pilot.
Hannah’s non-committal sex friend Adam might still be the worst of all the guys, but he’s growing on me for two reasons. First off, he’s hilariously weird. From his permanent shirtlessness to his unexplained blowtorch experiments to his “best dyke friend” who “works for a dick doctor”, Adam is always about to say or do something that’s unexpected and often very funny. Secondly, he does seem to care about Hannah more than he lets on. He’s obviously not interested in a traditional boyfriend/girlfriend relationship, and exploits her insecurity to live out every filthy porn-influenced fantasy stinking up his brain, but he flashes legitimate concern for Hannah whenever they talk about anything other than sex. He may not have a positive impact on Hannah’s life, but he makes Girls a more entertaining show. It’s improved considerably from the pilot and is slowly starting to live up to its advance hype.