Girls: “Female Author”

TV Reviews
Girls: “Female Author”

It took three seasons and another three episodes, but mark this Girls landmark immediately: Someone just told Jessa to grow the fuck up.

Granted, she had to pee in the streets of New York City to get the ball rolling, but it’s one of those things that’s so “Jessa,” you slap your head. Like, why am I even upset about this right now? Of course Jessa pees in the street. Of course it’s a social injustice when two cops—the fuzz, the po-po, her words—write a ticket. But what we don’t expect is for Adam, who already has a not-too-shabby criminal record, to get swept up with the globetrotting brat.

People stand up to Jessa all the time. Rehab, Shosh’s epic “Beach House” rant, her asshole ex-husband’s final kiss-off—but outside that police station, when Adam tore Jessa a new one, you sensed she was, maybe for the first time, listening. That’s what made it so satisfying—and later, heartbreaking.

“You’re a bad influence,” Adam said. “I saw this all the time with Hannah… just getting her in all these ridiculous situations.” It’s the dominating thread between our Girls tales this week: one bad influence, and the friend who takes the damage. There’s a case this could be the backbone of Girls: The Series, but its presence is too strong to ignore in “Female Author.” I mean, look at Marnie and Ray; Desi and Marnie; Elijah and Hannah; Jessa and Hannah, and Jessa and Adam. Shosh, thankfully, seems to just be doing Shosh. She’s going to Ann Taylor Loft interviews. Good for her. But in every relationship listed, the scales tip hard in favor of one friend.

But the scariest budding relationship in “Female Author” is between Adam and Jessa. The two bonded after attending AA meetings, a relationship that Jessa shrugs off as a mere annoyance. But later, she says it to Hannah’s face (via Skype, at least): The two see each other every day. My heart sank watching them walking around New York, Jessa awkwardly inviting Adam to her sober “birthday.” And even in the moments that follow their jail release, I did an awful, squirmy dance in my chair.

Like, what if they kiss? No, no. Someone stop the ride. Let me off.

Thankfully, the Girls Gods were merciful this week, at least a little. And there’s a nugget in that “sober birthday” conversation that gave me hope for a platonic bond between Adam and Jessa. Sadly, this is still bad news for Hannah: Adam is seeing someone else. Casually, it’s only a few-nights-a-week thing. But then Jessa acts a little too flirty, and Adam brushes it off. Adam’s partnered and tired of Jessa’s shit. Jessa, it turns out, is insanely lonely.

We’ve seen hints of this in the rehab scenario, where Hannah and Adam drove hours to pick Jessa up from an upstate facility. Mind you, not because they have to (though they’re unaware at the time), but because Jessa needs her friends. When she spoke out to Adam—I need you to be my friend—she exposed a vulnerable side that’s reserved for Rock Bottom Jessa, who was present in her post-divorce breakdown, or when she confronted her absent father.

From what we’ve seen this season, I’m expecting Jessa to find her true bottom. As Adam pointed out, it’s not the drugs to which Jessa seems to be drawn. It’s the chaos and drama around her, which she stirs up just as easily when she’s sober. I’m not a psychiatrist, but whatever is going on with Jessa has to be diagnosable. Like, I’m sorry, people don’t just piss in the street. And while I don’t need to see her settle down and open a Roth IRA, something has to happen for Jessa.

While Adam and Jessa were out getting arrested, something equally damaging was happening in Iowa. Elijah, whether or not he realizes it, is channeling Hannah’s inner procrastinator—that little voice that says, “Hey, you’re in grad school. It’s cool to make brownies from a mix bag and Google the month Woody Harrelson and Glenn Close dated.” Or worse, is he pushing her toward quitting?

I love Elijah. He provides some of the best comic relief the show has to offer, and he probably had the best line of the episode. Hannah asks why he’s taking so many photos at a poets’ party. He responds: “I realized I got so good at selfies, I was bored. And I was like, what would happen if I turned the camera around?” And then, he talks about quitting dancing. How it was the greatest relief of his life. How the pressure went away, how he could enjoy himself after. Hannah is in sink-or-swim mode at Iowa, and I can’t imagine how her most immediate friend saying this could help. Dude’s limiting her growth in that “one-horse town,” even if they’re both having a great time in the process.

And then there’s Marnie and Desi—the dude who will not leave his girlfriend for Marnie. The dude behind (literally, like last episode, remember that? Of course you do) “Marnie and Desi.” And Marnie’s going to go for it, even if that puts her music career in jeopardy. Desi seems to know it, though, and he’s taking about everything he can from Marnie: Talent. Sex. Emotional support. It’s a bad scene. But remember when Ray asked, “Hey Marnie, what do you want to do with your life?” And she was like, “to sing, professionally.” That’s on the table. Now she might get a record deal, so what does she tell Desi she wants most?

Desi. But he’s not giving that to her. And I’m sorry if I sound like Ayn Rand with the career stuff today, but Marnie, like, fuck. Pick one. ¯(?)

Week-to-week, transition episodes like “Female Author” hurt. Seeing our heroines in rough spots (that usually get rougher) is no fun in the moment, but Girls proves weekly that these episodes add up for a more powerful tale in the long run. As ridiculous as the outcomes are—Jessa going No. 1 in the road, Marnie putting up with some relationship B.S., Hannah reading into Elijah’s own damage—the Girls writers are always true to the characters. As the ride goes on, let’s just try to learn with them?

Tyler is a writer at Paste. His only experience with Girls comes thanks to HBO. You can follow him on Twitter.

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