Okay, so I’m getting past the whole unlikability issue. I may never like these women as people, but their self-absorption isn’t as prominent as it was in Girls’ first episode. Lena Dunham doubled-down on the negativity in that first episode to establish the show’s voice and themes, but has thankfully dialed down the obnoxiousness since.
I’m actually starting to feel sorry for Hannah Horvath (Dunham), with her emotionally vacant sex bud and that combo of too-clever confidence and nervous immaturity that ruined a perfectly good job interview last week. This week she finds out she has HPV despite only having a few partners and usually taking precautions. She gets the call from her gynecologist at her lover’s apartment, and for the first time Adam (Adam Driver) actually seems like a real person who cares about something other than porno sex. Then he immediately shuts down when Hannah accuses him of infecting her, and basically kicks her out while exercising with some Liu Kang-style kicks on his bed.
Hannah contacts the only other guy she’s ever slept with in order to see if he could be the culprit. Her college boyfriend is immediately and obviously gay, but Hannah doesn’t realize it until he comes out to her during their conversation. Their chat is a nice comic set-piece, starting off with awkward but polite catching up and gradually accelerating through passive-aggressive digs before exploding into a straight-up public argument. It’s hard not to feel bad for Hannah, even if most of her problems are in large part caused by her own lack of awareness and perception. Also, ending with an extended tweet session and a one girl dance-off to a Robyn song won’t help with those silly anti-hipster barbs fired at this show.
Hannah isn’t alone in her bad decisions. I don’t know if wearing a see-through dress on a babysitting job is appropriate, even in New York City. Getting high with the guy whose kids you’re watching also probably isn’t the best idea, but that doesn’t stop Jessa (Jemima Kirke) from doing both. We don’t quite know why Jessa is so depressed and self-destructive, but it’s clear she’s not exactly happy, despite being such an attractive and worldly young woman. Meanwhile her cousin Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet) spends the episode watching a tacky dating game show that surprisingly exists in the real world (Baggage, with Jerry Springer) and bemoaning her virginity.
Marnie (Allison Williams) remains the most put together and uptight of the Girls, but might be cracking on both fronts. She’s reached the point where she’s extremely annoyed by everything her “nice guy” boyfriend Charlie (Christopher Abbott) does, even when he shaves his head in a sign of solidarity with a coworker undergoing chemo. Later on Marnie meets a hotshot young artist (played by the Lonely Island’s Jorma Taccone) at a reception at the gallery she works at. They spend the night flirting before Marnie awkwardly declares that she won’t kiss him. His response (“I want you to know: the first time I fuck you I might scare you a little, because I’m a man, and I know how to do things”) is amazingly direct and confident, but it’s said so matter-of-factly and unaggressively that it doesn’t sound as much like a prelude to a date rape as it sounds. It apparently is also a good line, as Marnie immediately retreats to the lady’s room and masturbates. That’s a total dickhead line but it’s so unlike her boring, passive boyfriend that it’s not surprising that it would work so well on Marnie.
So the characters aren’t nearly as annoying as they were in that first episode. More importantly Girls has turned into a legitimately funny show. Dunham’s dialogue is smart and funny but still feels like something real people would say. As long as her lines remain this hilarious I can deal with a cast of spoiled, self-obsessed children.