Where are we going here, Girls team?
Since the beginning of Season Four, Girls has been about transition. Hannah heads to Iowa. Hannah and Adam break up. Marnie discovers a career in songwriting. Adam finds new love. Shosh can’t find a career. Jessa gets sober. And if you’re hoping to see any of these plotlines advance forward, prepare for sadness, reader! Aside from Jessa’s sobriety, the bleak thread tied through episode five was surrendering to circumstances. A bummer in its own, considering the gang is reunited for the first time this season.
With all of Girls’ stop-and-go progress, this is the first episode that worried me about the show’s long-term plan. Like, we endured the last five episodes for this? Thirty minutes of Hannah, Adam, Shosh and Marnie stacking hands on the pole of a white flag? Granted, part of the fun of “Close Up” was seeing their interactions with this realization—whether that meant Shosh teasing that she’d become a housewife, or Hannah saying the line “I can’t do, so I’ll teach!”
Anyway, where were we? Not that far from the start of the season, really. Shosh is still on the job hunt. Hannah lives with Elijah in New York. During an odd therapy session, she decides she wants to be a teacher. Adam moves in with Mimi-Rose Eleanor Howard, who added another component to her already insufferably long title. To quote Fight Club: Mimi-Rose Eleanor Howard just had Adam’s abortion. This predictably upset Adam, but more on this later.
First: Shosh. She’s been underutilized this season, but Shoshanna’s job hunt has been one of the best parts. From rejecting an Ann Taylor Loft job to being rejected unanimously at every higher-tier interview after, her reactions have all built up to this week’s rage-filled blowout. She’s interviewing for a marketing position at a microwave food startup “Madame Tinsley’s.” She hates the name. She hates the company. Actually, she just hates interviewing for jobs. I can’t imagine many people of Girls’ target demographic didn’t have a cathartic release after Shosh let out this gem: “That’s such an interesting story. Do you mind if I write about it for Holy Shit Magazine?”
Also, winners like:
“Was this your dream?... You and Jeremy and Simon were like, ‘I want to make rice that smells like budussy?’”
Scott: “What’s budussy?”
“It’s butt, dick and pussy.”
I could honestly listen to this for an entire 30 minutes. I’d probably give the episode a higher score.
Hannah hasn’t only dropped her Iowa dreams. She’s decided to be a teacher. The decision’s rooted in a weird interaction with her otherwise disinterested therapist. The guy entertains Hannah’s thoughts for the first time in Girls history. Maybe he’s just stoked to get a paycheck from her again? When they awkwardly stumble on the subject of Hannah “being a helper,” she makes a split-second decision to become a teacher. Life is weird, and Girls’ most selfish character is headed toward being an educator. It feels like another dead-end path for Hannah, at the end of a long line of dead ends. And while that’s part of the point—the show is a character study of a young woman finding herself—it’s starting to wear thin this season.
For all the strange directions this episode took, I really like what they did with Adam’s screen time. For the last two episodes, we saw mostly Hannah’s POV of the situation. If Mimi-Rose and Adam were making love, we heard it through walls. If they were happy together, we only heard through word of mouth. Last night, we saw their version of the story. And as a result, the narrative uncovered one relationship element that Mimi-Rose couldn’t give the shirtless wonder: a sense of dependency. We learn she had an abortion—super matter-of-factly, the same way I might tell my friends that I went for a jog or that Hot Tub Time Machine 2 was a steamer of a film. But we learn this with Adam—the morning after it happened. He’s devastated, not necessarily because his unborn child was aborted. More importantly for Adam, there was no communication between the two. Mimi-Rose didn’t need a boyfriend to accompany her or help make a decision. The devastation for Adam is real. Maybe it’s because of his family history—just look at his sister, Caroline—but you get the sense that, relationship-wise, that co-support is important to him. When he tucks Mimi-Rose under the covers in the mornings, when he makes her breakfast before she wakes up, he hops on this opportunity. That’s all she’ll let him do. And in their final argument of the episode, he’s practically begging. He needs her to need him. All that Cheap Trick wisdom.
I’m struggling to care about Ray’s political involvement. Really, I’m happy to see him getting his stuff together. I think he provides an interesting contrast to the younger characters (Ray is 34 on the show). But already-angry dude shouting the New York version of “get off my lawn” has reached its limit. Marc Maron’s appearance as a city boardmember was great. He played Marc Maron, just in local government, and with longer hair. But that episode was just filled with moments like that—great bits trying to compensate for a weak foundation. Marnie is essentially downgraded to a hired gun in the Marnie and Desi duo. The interaction was kind of painful to watch, with the two arguing about whether they sounded like She & Him—Marnie was all in favor of being a romantic version of the act. Like the Maron bits, the scene was hilarious. We could’ve guessed Marnie and Desi had problems brewing as soon as they properly united. But in 30 minutes, here’s how far Marnie and Desi advance: they reach a stalemate on whether they sound like She & Him. Marnie is established as the secondary songwriter of the duo. They have problems. End scene.
For the step forward the show took last week, this feels like an equal step back. For the first week this season, I’m feeling pretty indifferent about what lies ahead. Here’s to seeing some progression next week.
Tyler is a writer at Paste. His only experience with Girls comes thanks to HBO. You can follow him on Twitter.