Girls Review: "Bad Friend" (Episode 2.03)
I’ve never done coke for a story before, but I did drink a lot of gluten free beer last year for Paste. Actually, between Eastbound & Down and tonight’s Girls, everything I know about cocaine comes from HBO. In Eastbound coke kills Kenny Powers’ best friend and is just one of the many habits that makes Kenny so pathetic. In Girls coke is a job requirement and a prelude to a great night that ends up damaging a couple of Hannah’s relationships. At least she can console herself by making out with Delocated’s Jon Glaser.
Mood-altering substances might be an easy dramatic advice—how many shows have had episodes about drunken indiscretions?—and initially I groaned over Girls’ coke habit. At least it grows out of a good joke, with a quick and vicious little takedown of Vice-style millennial gonzo-ism, and leads to some of the show’s funniest moments. Writing about her first coke experience is one of two horrible story ideas offered to Hannah by the obnoxious editor of some bottom-feeder website. Hannah could pick between a night on coke and a threesome with Craigslist strangers, which are obviously both amazingly good life choices to make. Hannah picks the drugs over the group sex. It’s like she’s never even heard of Len Bias.
Drug humor is often lazy and lame, but Girls avoids the afterschool special route while also not making cocaine look like an awesomely great time. Okay, it kind of does make coke look fun as hell, at least until Hannah and Elijah are cutting lines on a toilet seat while making uncomfortable admissions to each other. Elijah and Hannah become (coked-out) best friends forever at a dance night hosted by identical lover DJs, and Elijah feels so comfortable that he nonchalantly tells Hannah that he had sex with Marnie after their party in the first episode. That instantly kills the mood, and an upset Hannah (with Elijah and her recovered junkie neighbor / cocaine source Laird [Glaser] in tow) tracks Marnie down to the art studio where Marnie just finished having sex with that smarmy artist from the first season (The Lonely Island’s Jorma Taccone).
I can understand Hannah being a little hurt and sad about Elijah and Marnie, but it’s not really justified. Yeah, Elijah broke up with her at some point in the past because he realized he was gay, but that was years ago, and it’s not like the sex with Marnie was premeditated or even enjoyed by either of them. Hannah shaming Marnie into calling herself a bad friend was petty, and the whole ordeal doesn’t seem like a big enough reason to kick Elijah out of the apartment and free Andrew Rannells up for his New Normal schedule. Everybody involved comes off badly, and now Hannah has damaged her relationships with most of her friends (except Jessa and Shoshanna, who once again are barely in this episode). Still, Elijah and Hannah’s increasing mania and their extreme exuberance at the party made this one of the show’s funniest episodes, and Glaser’s earnest, sad-sack junkie is instantly the show’s most sympathetic character. It’ll be sad to see how Hannah hurts him.
The only other story of note involved Marnie running into the artist Booth at her new hostess job. She endures some of his horrible art, which includes dollhouses decorated with human blood and an installation that’s basically an iron maiden made out of TVs showing scenes of death and decay set to Duncan Sheik’s “Barely Breathing”. It’s capped off with one of the show’s patented extremely uncomfortable sex scenes. Between Booth’s art, the Brooklyn dance party and the website Hannah’s now writing for, Girls has never been more openly contemptuous of its own milieu. If the show was this openly satirical when it debuted last year, I never would’ve been one of those hand-wringing ninnies complaining about the show.