Following Hannah’s polarizing, dreamlike and ultimately fleeting affair on last week’s Girls, the action returned to normal — or something like it — with the unlikely duo of Ray and Adam on a journey to Staten Island, and the steadily drifting twosome of Marnie and Hannah contemplating a life without the ‘B’ or the final ‘F’ in their BFF relationship.
“Boys” was a peculiar and not entirely satisfying half hour — lacking the meditative depth of “One Man’s Trash,” but offering up little of the biting/absurdist humor that Lena Dunham typically serves up with the consistency of a McDonald’s French fry. Let’s recap the action surrounding the episode’s two dynamic duos.
RAY AND ADAM | Ray discovered that Hannah had left his coveted copy of Little Women (complete with notes from his godmother) in ex-boyfriend Adam’s apartment, and somehow got tasked with retrieving it. Adam, with his usual brand of absurd aggression, answered the door with rock music blaring, found furniture being violently deconstructed, and a stolen (and angry) canine in the bathroom. And this, folks, is just one reason why I find Adam to be one of the least realistic, most grating characters on television. Any dude who could kidnap a random canine, name him “Dog,” then lock him in a tiny cell after getting bitten — oh, and brush off his subsequent festering infection with a breezy, “I put baking soda on it” — ought to be the perp on Law & Order: SVU, not a long-term romantic interest on a half-hour dramedy. I used to wonder, is Adam painfully obtuse, or are his tossed-off remarks (“I had to spend a night in a cell with fucking yoga teacher!”) an arch defense mechinism that blocks him off from the world? I’ve honestly stopped caring.
Anyway, back to the plot, the always thoughtful Ray convinced Adam they needed to return “Dog” to his owner out on Staten Island (a place so horrific to Ray he once turned down a three-way to avoid it). The sojourn allowed the guys to have a pair of conversations that felt more like meta analyses of Girls‘ female characters. Young girls and older women are less complicated, the guys enthused, dismissing the 20-50 set as having inflated expectations and unseemly body issues. Oh, and is Hannah a misunderstood altruist or an entitled brat? I just don’t buy that these guys would have these discussions — not with each other, anyhow. I did, however, enjoy Ray’s incredulity after Adam accused him of coveting Hannah and being coy about it: “Coy? Is that your first time using this word?” Touché, Ray!
Adam eventually ditched the mission — of course he did — and after an awful encounter with the dog owner’s hilariously dreadful daughter (a human font of racism, homophobia and misanthropy) Ray ended up on a bench, overlooking New York harbour and still in possession of the four-legged critter with the makeshift muzzle on his mouth. Okay, so Shosh wanted Ray to attend a Learning Annex course for entrepreneurs. It doesn’t make him a loser, nor does it mean she’s pushing him to be something he’s not, or shouldn’t want to be. Shoshanna may be the wide-eyed dreamer of the show (finding Hannah’s book deal “so adult and intriguing!”) but she’s also a gal with life goals, and a semblance of a plan to achieve them. To me, that makes her admirable, not just a text-speak-spewing punch line. I hope Ray’s tears — and his listening to Adam’s nasty assessment that he’s only comfortable with Shosh because he knows it won’t ultimately work — turn out to be a fleeting thing. Without the Shoshanna-Ray levity, Girls‘ angst levels might soar to unbearable heights.
HANNAH AND MARNIE | So Hannah’s got herself a book deal. An e-book deal, but hey, that counts! The episode’s funniest scene had to be Hannah and her ridiculous publisher (John Cameron Mitchell) discussing the concept of high-low (“Tom Wolfe writing about his colostomy bag!”) before cutting to the chase: Hannah’s got herself a deal, but only one month to turn in her finished product. No wonder our protagonist found herself vomming out on the sidewalk in front of the chic restaurant where they met. Jessa, depressed and sleeping in Hannah’s bathtub, couldn’t muster up any enthusiasm about the milestone event: “This book doesn’t matter. That’s the first thing you need to know.” And so Hannah tried to track down Marnie to commiserate, even though her texts and calls kept getting the “hit ignore” treatment. “She probably wrote a blog post or found a really good hot dog,” Marnie said to a naked (ewwww) Booth-Jonathan while ignoring another one of Hannah’s calls.
Okay, I get it. Last time we saw these besties, Hannah was calling Marnie too self-absorbed to commit suicide, accusing her of “psychotic” behavior for showing up at the dinner party to which she’d been invited, and then essentially kicking Marnie out of said party after a squabble with her ex’s new girlfriend. It’s not like Hannah’s done much to deserve loyalty. But how on earth could Marnie endure Booth-Jonathan’s unrelenting pretentiousness? That scene where Booth chastized his assistant for eating a spoonful of his rosewater ice cream was truly a thing of grotesquerie — with Marnie not merely acquiescing, but actively encouraging his stance. (If I were Marnie, I’d have bailed the minute the assistant informed the famous artisté she’d stocked his fridge with “goat milk probiotic.”) At least Soojin scored a good laugh with her exit: “My boyfriend is doing lights for Carly Rae Jepsen and I should be on the bus with him right now!”
With Soojin out of the picture, Booth asked Marnie if she’d mind hosting his party, which sent her into a flight of “I’m his girlfriend and we’re throwing a party together!” fancy. “Booth and I are having people over,” she told Shosh, and you knew it wasn’t gonna end well, especially when her destitute self determined she needed new duds for the party. (“It’s just a dress,” she later told Hannah. “From the far off future!” replied her pal.) Anyhow, again, I’d have flown the coop when Booth started projecting onto the walls a video installment of his weeping self, but Marnie just kept right on greeting guests and pouring wine. That is until this exchange:
Booth: Mind if I throw you, like, $500?
Marnie: You don’t have to pay me. I’m your girlfriend.
Booth: I didn’t realize I had a girlfriend.
And then, when Marnie admitted she’d maybe fallen in love with the idea of Booth, he started smashing wine bottles in his lovely little wine cellar. At least he didn’t need to throw one at Marnie for her to realize that this was a bad situation, that being Booth’s “girlfriend” is a paid role, and that being Booth’s assistant requires not just picking up groceries but getting horizontal as well.
The final phone call between Hannah and Marnie was a heartbreaker. Marnie’s big ego trip — the one that never really allowed Hannah to fill her in on the details of her book deal — had come to a painful end, but she stood there in her ridiculous gold tube top at the subway entrance and declared everything “perfect,” declared herself “very happy.” And Hannah, realizing she’d lost the ear of the one person who really understood her, lied and told Marnie she’d left the party to go get “tons” done on the e-book, not because she’d felt abandoned and out-of-place in the pretentious art-world soiree. Has “Love you, bye” ever sounded more heartbreaking and hollow? And what will it take to reunite these gals, and get them in the habit of treating each other with the respect and kindness to which every person is entitled?
I leave those questions to you. Until then, what did you think of this week’s Girls? Do you think hannah and Marnie will get their groove back by season’s end? Have we seen the last of Booth? Do you want to see Ray escape from his case of the blues and get back to a happier place with Shosh? Sound off in the comments!