This week’s Girls was ostenisbly about our protagonist’s dream-like one-day-stand with a wealthy, married (er, separated) doctor. But in actuality, it was more of a psychological profile asking the question: “Who is Hannah Horvath, and what makes her act — and act out — the way she does?”
The premise of the moving, meditative “One Man’s Trash” was simple and streamlined (nope, we had no Jessa, no Marnie and no Shosh this week): Unfeasibly hot fortysomething guy (Patrick Wilson) walks in to Grumpy’s and kvetches to Ray that someone’s been dumping the cafe’s rubbish in his cans. An argument ensues, dude storms out, Hannah (sporting the most hideous romper my eyes have ever encountered) tells Ray he was appallingly rude, and then she proceeds to quit her shift early (maybe forever?) and follow disgruntled patron back to his place to confess that she was actually the guilty party. Before she leaves, she plants a kiss on the total stranger’s lips, and they wind up having sex on the kitchen counter, sharing a steak dinner, skipping work the next day, playing half-naked ping-pong, having sex on the ping-pong table, touring his renovated brownstone, reading the Times in his idyllic backyard, having sex in his bed, and spilling little secrets all the while over the course of the 36-or-so-hour encounter.
On her second night with Dr. Josh(ua), though, Hannah faints inside his home-furnishings-porn steam shower and their conversation gets briefly and awkwardly real. We never learn much about Wilson’s character aside from his profession, his recent separation from his wife, and that he’s got a passion for restoring his old house. (Oh, also, he totes hates the abbreve “Josh.”) But Hannah — struck by his passion, his compassion, and to some degree his material and emotional stability — finds herself opening up in ways she’s rarely done during Girls‘ season-and-a-half run.
I loved how the episode challenged my feelings about Hannah, making me find her more sympathetic, more shallow, more complicated, mor tragic, more infuriating and more lovable depending on where her conversation with Joshua headed. There’s no way a single recap could really cover the entire dialog — suffice to say, though, somewhere a college sophomore is probably beginning her college term paper about it — but I’ll recount the four exchanges/realizations that I found most provocative:
* Hannah is, at heart, a little materialistic (not that there’s anything wrong with it). | I found it fascinating the way Lena Dunham exposed her heroine’s not-so-hidden love of the good life — from the way Hannah went in for that first kiss right after describing as nice “everything that [Joshua] appears to have” to their last night together when she marveled at his “fruit in the bowl and fridge with the stuff.” Hannah, living a carefree twentysomething lifestyle on a coffee-shop salary in the most expensive city in the world, has to know that the party can’t last forever. At some point she’ll either have to apply her intellect to a serious job or writing project that pays her a living salary, or else she’ll have to abandon the NYC dream that fuels her engine. Confronted by an adult who can’t play dumpster games for kicks had to be a stark reminder of what she may or may not be frittering away with her occasional/questionable essays.
* Despite all her hipster pretense, Hannah has a revelation that her desires and life goals are as banal as everybody else’s. | Okay, so she wouldn’t mind a backyard grill and a home out of a Nancy Meyers film, but Hannah’s appreciation for Joshua’s lifestyle opened the window to the fact that he might actually represent her deeper desires. To feel beautiful (“It’s not the recent feedback that I’ve been given,” she smiled sadly, when the guy complimented her looks). To feel wanted (that whole “Beg me to stay” game on her first night at Joshua’s). To feel secure (I loved that scene where Hannah welled up with emotion as she peeled an orange and watched the good doctor read the paper). All of this, to my mind, culminated with that scene where Joshua stroked Hannah’s hair and asked her about her shower collapse. “Next time, call me,” he implored, and those two words, “next time” — whether carefully considered or casually tossed off — were like a lightbulb bursting hot glass over Ms. Horvath’s head. Could a guy like this with a serious career and a real home and a plan for the future — someone who not only has roots, but refurbishes ‘em — be serious about her 24-year-old self? And if that was the case, how would she respond to it? Is this what she really wants? (Her prior, comically aghast “you’re a married doctor?” now possibly a serious thought.) Joshua’s “next time” caused Hannah to blurt the saddest and realest thing she’s uttered on Girls: “Please don’t tell anyone about this, but I wanna be happy.”
* The understanding that having experiences only for experience’s sake can lead to total misery. | Last week we had Jessa ending her marriage with a giant middle finger to her bourgeois husband, screeching about how her need to have “experiences” trumped his mundane need for propriety and domestic bliss.” It was fascinating to hear Hannah reiterate that she, too, had made that kind of promise to herself “such a long time ago.” (Oh, kiddo, but you’re only 24!) And, as she noted, sometimes “taking in experiences” can be overrated. “One time I asked someone to punch me in the chest and then cum on that spot. Like that was my idea. That came from my brain and, like, what makes me think I deserve that?” In that moment, you could see Joshua begin to physically and mentally retreat, and Hannah begin to unravel. In trying to forge a path outside of the conventional, is it possible Hannah has become totally lost in the woods?
* Hannah’s confession that she may have been sexually molested at age three — and her subsequent/almost immediate followup that not only did her mother not believe her, but that she might not trust her own recounting, either. | Sure, at this point in their conversation, Hannah was almost in stream-of-consciousness mode, but it nevertheless left me reeling. If Hannah suffered such a trauma, and didn’t get support from her own mother after it happened, it might explain a lot of her tumultuous feelings pertaining to sex, might explain her revelation a few weeks back to Jessa that most of her wants to “disappear” during the act. It might also explain attraction to someone as wretched in their bedroom rhetoric as Adam. I’m not sure if I expect Girls to be the kind of show to carry such heavy weight going forward — and I won’t be upset if this anecdote is just a stray seed dropped into the landscape of Hannah’s life — but it was an unsettling detail whatever way you slice it. Even if, as Hannah said herself she wasn’t the most accurate narrator of events, what could have caused her to imagine such a violation? And will we see a scene between Hannah and her mother where she’s able to re-open the dicsussion as an adult? The story, as they say, is developing…
Anyhow, with those questions in the air, I turn things over to you. What did you think of this week’s Girls? Do you think we’ll see Joshua again? (Based on the way Hannah exited — taking out the trash — I’m guessing we won’t.) And did you find this to be a moving 30 minutes or not? Sound off in the comments!