Girls Post-'Beach House': Remind Us -- Why Are These People Friends Exactly?

girls-beach-house-season-3-hboWe only hurt the ones we love, or so the old saying goes. But “Beach House,” last night’s brutally funny (but awfully brutal) installment of HBO’s Girls got me wondering: How barbarically do the show’s four central characters — Hannah, Marnie, Jessa and Shoshanna — have to treat each other before their continued friendship ceases to be believable?

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Putting it another way, would you and your three closest friends be goofily engaging in synchronized dance steps less than 24 hours after any/all of the following scathing put-downs:

Shoshanna to Hannah, Marnie and Jessa: “Sometimes I wonder if my social anxiety is holding me back from meeting the people who would actually be right for me instead of a bunch of f***ing whiny nothings as friends.”

Hannah to Marnie and Jessa: “Well, maybe Shosh has a point: I mean, it’s not like the four of us have had any real fun together the last — what? — two years?”

Shosh to Hannah: “You’re a f***ing narcissist. Seriously, I have never met anyone else who thinks their own life is so f***ing fascinating. I wanted to fall asleep in my own vomit all day listening to you talk about how you bruise more easily than other people.”

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Hannah about/to Shosh: “She’s a cruel drunk and she’s also not an intellecutal… Why when I’m around her do I feel like my brain is gonna atrophy? I would call you a little unstimulating.”

And finally, how about this exchange between Marnie and Hannah?

Marnie: Look, all you’ve ever done is talk about the fact that you are changing, that you wanna change, self-improvement, all that bullshit. So, I get on board with it, and thus all you’ve done for the last couple of years is disappoint me.
Hannah: Well then maybe you should lower your expectations!
Marnie: [Taking a beat.] I can’t lower them any further.

Yikes.

The thing about Girls is that it remains a flawlessly acted, provocatively written series. It’s wry and scathing and still has interesting things to say about the balance twentysomethings seek between finding happiness and finding themselves, between making a living and pursuing their dreams. (Hannah succumbing last week to the lure of her GQ advertorial paycheck — and bonus free snacks — was beautifully juxtaposed with the sputtering literary aspirations of her once-promising co-workers.)

But the question remains now whether Girls can and/or should be less about the trials and tribulations of four female friends and more a series of vignettes about a quartet of women linked marginally by their pasts. And it’s also worth asking if series star and creator Lena Dunham is making a creative misstep with the show’s unrelentingly dim view of female friendship.

That silent, morning-after cleanup of Marnie’s borrowed Hamptons kitchen felt like a turning point in the series, a realization by Girls‘ four protagonists that maybe Shoshanna wasn’t just drunkenly blowing off steam the night before, but speaking a much-needed truth by declaring, “I’m so f***ing sick of all of you!” Trouble is, if all that’s left of this circle is toxicity and barely hidden resentments, how long before the audience feels the same?

What did you think of “Beach House”? Are you digging Girls‘ third season in general? And should Dunham try to inject some fun back into her core characters’ relationships — or is it time for the women to move on? Hit the comments with your thoughts!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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31 Comments
  1. StupidPeopleShutUp says:

    I can’t get past the green bikini. I’m not trying to be mean. If Lena Dunham wants to wear a green bikini, god bless her. However, at this point, I feel like Lena Dunham the Creativetrix is intentionall finding the most hideous clothing possible merely as a political act/provacteur move…and I’m finding it tiresome.

    • Lo says:

      I thought the exact same thing. She could have the body of a VS model, I would still be baffled about why on earth she’d be half-naked throughout the entire episode except to be obnoxiously making the same point ad-nauseum. I was not impressed

    • Britta Unfiltered says:

      My friend and I were talking online while the episode was on and we were laughing our asses off at the green bikini. I admire Lena Dunham’s confidence. I really do. I won’t even go in the sauna at the gym without being wrapped up tightly in a huge beach towel. Because I have no confidence.

    • Girls versus Looking says:

      I agree this is getting old. Just put some clothes on when it’s not required to be naked for the scene. And this comes from someone who loves cable shows partly because they tend to show us the good stuff from all human beings.

      I watched Looking’s episode as well this week and compared to Girls, it can be crude too sometimes but they don’t show gratuitous butts just to be provocative. That format break episode that shows the start of a relationship between 2 gay men didn’t even need to show much during the BJ scene and it was very well done.

      I guess I’ll keep on hate-watching Girls. I can appreciate the effort but how unlikeable are these girls and mostly Hannah?

    • Sheila Ward says:

      I’m getting really tired of having Ms. Dunham’s body shoved in my face during Girls episodes. The teeny weenie bikini was pretty awful. I noticed too that she gets out of bed (naked of course), throws on clothes (no underwear) and goes to work for Ray. Gag me with a whole place setting. She’s obviously bright and well read, but why does she feel this need to force us to look at her body so often in these episodes. Playing table tennis with Patrick Wilson in the raw was really a bit much. I have to agree with that reporter that asked her why there was all this unnecessary nudity (just Lena) in Girls? And, I’m a woman and I’m not gay (not that there’s anything wrong with that) so I don’t need any help just because I’m not into her nudity. It makes no sense at all. My friends and I always bring cover ups to the beach. What sane person rides a bike into town in a skimpy string bikini and with no shoes? They can’t be wrapped too tight. I did find the verbal exchange between all four really interesting, especially since Shoshana finally showed some real gumption and actually told it like it is……Hannah just needs to keep her clothes on and choose a more attractive beach hat…geez…where do the even sell those? Why aren’t these dear friends helping her with her choices in outfits? She looked like a plumber with a “butt” crack when she was trying to bring Adam and his sister together during that kitchen fight. It’s just getting old now. Hannah is much too intelligent not to see how truly unflattering her wardrobe is and her choices in what type of attire is most appropriate for a particular situation.

    • marips says:

      I couldn’t agree more about Hannah’s bikini and the way she dresses in general. It’s like she’s challenging the viewers to just go ahead and *dare* to say she shouldn’t dress like that because she’s chubby. But it’s not about that really. She wore that green bikini constantly. In the morning, at the beach, on a bicycle, in town (with nothing else! WHO does that???), back at home in the pool, at dinner, after dinner drinking and dancing, in bed, and the next day. I don’t care if she was a supermodel, that’s just gross! How about wearing clothes that fit? How about basic hygiene? And don’t even get me started on the fact that none of her friends *ever* says anything about how inappropriately she dresses (that yellow mesh top in the club? Give me a break!). In the beginning, I admired her for her confidence, but now I see it very differently.

  2. scorpo says:

    GREAT POINT!

  3. christine says:

    People grow apart. Its not something that is explored often. In your twenties you arent as discerning in your friendships but as you get older the ones you have less in common with tend to fall away, conciously or otherwise. I am cool with Dunham “going there” if that is her intent.

    • Robert says:

      You are absolutely right about friendships changing. My best friend is someone I known since the second grade and now decades later I do not feel we have much in common. I have told him this and asked him if we met as adults would we like each other; he claims we would but I do not think so, he is a good person but over the years there were important times I did not feel he was there for me. I am saying you can love someone as a close friend for years but like all types of relationships they often have a expiration date.

      • David4 says:

        I’m 28, had the same best friend since high school and we reached the point it’s like “Let’s not bother talking”. Sad but you move on.

  4. WTactualF says:

    None of these characters are likeable. None of them.

    This show is pointless and I agree with the green bikini poster. Lena Dunham only does nudity and hideous clothing to get a rise out of the media. After 3 seasons, it’s entirely played out. HBO, please cancel this show.

    • sbrue says:

      Agreed. I find myself wanting to like it but then realize I just don’t like or care about any of the people in the show. Then they keep bringing more unlikable people on (Adam’s sister).

  5. Ben says:

    Despite its flaws, Girls remains damn entertaining, in my opinion. “Beach House” was the stand-out episode of this season (so far).

  6. Mr. John says:

    Did any of you catch the final scene? Why did the other three join in the dance?

  7. This was my favorite episode of the entire series so far.

  8. Dave says:

    Beach House was, indeed, the standout episode of this season so far. I was thrilled to see Shosh get more to do than be laughable background noise – but let’s get more Jessa in the mix. The two of them are far more interesting than Marnie and the insufferable Hannah. Marnie, however, remains the most “real” of the four characters.

  9. Adam says:

    This was my favorite episode as well. I don’t agree with the criticism that it doesn’t make sense why they are friends. think it’s very true to life that there are friendships that shouldn’t really be compatible or have just outworn their welcome into your life, but you just stick with them because of either convenience or familiarity, especially in your 20s when your life is in a lot of transitional periods. I have a lot of friendships like that; it’s not the ideal, but I think it’s true to form.

  10. Claire says:

    I remember that same dialogue from an episode of Friends.

  11. Karrah says:

    I think the show portrays female friendships at this time in your life pretty accurately, and “Beach House” was a great episode. At this point though I find nothing redeemable about Marnie. Homegirl needs therapy or something because she is a control freak in the worst possible way.

    • Tamara says:

      Marnie is definitely an anal control freak but I actually think she’s far from being the most unlikeable, un-redeemable character- Hanna is definitely at the top of that list, followed by Jessa (who is so frustratingly ambiguous on the show!)

      I’m definitely personally biased because I feel a lot like Marnie (not as crazy haha but the core issues) and I think the worst thing is when a person takes a friendship for granted and doesn’t try. Marnie and Hanna are meant to be best friends but Hanna spends all of the episode rolling her eyes at Marnie, undermining her and refusing to look deeper than the “dinner for 4″ comments and basically just not being there for her friend. Like she’s so indifferent, she doesn’t even care enough to yell at Marnie until the end, she just hurriedly tries to reassure her of their friendship so she can go back to being lovey dovey with Elijah. It just pissed me off and I ended up feeling really bad for Marnie, esp after hearing how Charlie dumped her.
      Maybe it’s just me, sorry for the ramble!

    • Sheila says:

      Well, they all need therapy. They all have issues. It’s hard to understand what’s holding them together at this point. And, I hate to get off topic, but how can Hannah, even with a little help from Adam, afford monthly rent of $2,100?? This is what she told Adam’s nut case sister. Now they still have to pay for utilities, etc. C’mon!

      How is Marnie going to pay for her new apartment? Mom? She lives in Manhattan. Hell, I’m gonna get me a job at Ray’s! ;-)

      I mean, so far these gals don’t seem to have very lucrative jobs. I assume Shoshanna gets money from her parents and Jessa just stays there for free.

      Hannah must have gotten some big advances for her e-book.

  12. Leo says:

    The reason why I quit Girls was that, these people are awful. They have no self-esteem, and at the same time are egotistical pricks like lil’ kids screaming ‘me me me me’ figthing with their friends on the playground. There’s nothing redeemable about any of them.

  13. noa says:

    Girls is def a heightened reality, but this episode reminded me so much of me and my friends. the last 2 scenes- cleaning up and dancing while waiting for the bus were really realistic. when you have old friends you don’t want to give up on (especially with these 4 girls who are pretty much the worst and can’t make friends that easily) you can have these really bad fights and confessions and then still feel comfortable around them the next day.

    this episode really spoke to me and it i felt like it really showed me some bad sides to some of my friendships. i guess i think it’s believable but if i were friends with any of them in real life (ew. just the thought of it…) i would probably have a hard time understanding why they’re still friends and i would tell them to move on. but the story line totsally makes sense to me.

    Slezak, come spend a weekend with me and my friends. then you’ll understand what it means to be a part of a group of 20-something yo female friends. it’s awesome, and also- the worst. :)

  14. kobe says:

    These girls are becoming completely annoying. Whatever made them likable in season 1 is gone. Sorry, but that last scene where they all start dancing was like nails on a chalkboard. Not cute, not funny.. Please stop

  15. Saabgirlatx says:

    This could have been several “girls weekends” from my youth in a nutshell. Especially with the added bonus of an estranged friend tagging along and tons of booze. Any group of “I’m-figuring-it-out-still-but-trying-to-pretend-like-I-already-have” types have had a night like this -in vino veritas- and still remained friends/bonded (scene at the end). Excellent character study. Aside from that -agree green bikini was just distracting and I’m over Hannah’s nudity.

  16. Tiffany says:

    The fight for me hit home a little harder than it should. I am in a group of 4, that has been a four-some for the last 18 years, and we are in a similar situation to this one. I actually started to think that if the 4 of us were in a room together for more than 5 hours that this type of low-hitting verbal altercation could happen. It didn’t feel “unreal” to me at all. It actually really made me fear for our friendship. Hannah’s line is what hit me the hardest: “Well, maybe Shosh has a point: I mean, it’s not like the four of us have had any real fun together the last — what? — two years?”, because that’s the situation that my group of friends are in. Holding on to something because it’s safe, because it’s familiar, because it’s habitual. I feel like now that the skeletons are all on the table, maybe the real “healing” (what Marnie was seeking) can truly begin. I’m hoping that it does (for their sake and mine).

  17. Courtney says:

    I think I’m in the minority, but I’m hopelessly bored with this season. I know Lena’s the creator, but I’m sick of her being the center of every episode. Maybe it’s me, but I watched the first two seasons On Demand and fell in love-I thought it was funny, and smart, and witty. Now, all I can think of is that I really couldn’t care less about any of the characters-Hannah, Adam, Marnie, Jessa, or Shoshanna. In all honesty, would anyone else want to be friends with any of these characters? In fact, Shoshanna’s about the only one I like. Marnie’s full of self-pity, Hannah continues to be a complete narcissist at work and in her persona life (and totally annoying) and I don’t see these characters growing at all -and you grow a ton living on your own, in your twenties to figure stuff out. Not that funny or entertaining this season.

    • kobe says:

      Not in the minority..I agree with you.I think Lena is trying too hard this season and it’s coming off that way..she had given everything creatively she had in season 1 and now is trying to recreate it.. too bad it’s just garbage

  18. Joel says:

    The season so far has been okay – scenes with Adam’s sister were strong, Hannah at “work” not so much – but the beach house episode was probably the worst and most lazy GIRLS episode I’ve ever seen. The fact that all three writers had to tinker with it is telling. Hannah (and, yes, the nudity and near-nudity is now gratuitous) was reduced to just a bunch of cutesy, pop-culture dropping lines that even she didn’t seem to connect with. When she wasn’t saying something shallow and pointless, she was saying something trite and pointless. This isn’t the Hannah who had complex reactions to Adam and Adam’s sister; this is the Hannah whose dialogue was written by a witty high school sophomore/Diablo Cody wannabe. Meanwhile, Marnie has become a complete self-loathing cartoon, only given some life when she’s with Ray, who sees through her, not around her. Without Ray, she’s just a parody of one aspect of her personality. Like all of these characters, Marnie only shows depth when she’s around people other than the main three. Jessa ‘s character would never have gone to this party, but once there, she has nothing to do or say. “Maybe Shosh is right…” is not a line of dialogue; it’s a clumsy way for the writers to try to extend Shosh’s out-of-nowhere rant. Speaking of which, I know Shosh was drunk, but never in a million years would she have been so maliciously and directly cruel. Yes, she probably has some pent up frustrations, but it wouldn’t come out like pea soup from Linda Blair. I was thinking, “Who IS that person?” The whole episode – which had strong potential to be meaningful and deep, came out just clumsy and thin, and no spontaneous dancing could bring it back to life. The problem with the episode is not just that these “friends” have no reason to be friends; it’s that they left all their true, complex selves back in Brooklyn, and sent their shadows to the beach house to express – often uncharacteristically — a handful of broad and simple emotions.

  19. Karen says:

    The first season I loved seeing Hannah’s body- it was refreshing to see something other than the Hollywood body. It felt very genuine.
    Now, it’s beyond overkill. It started with the naked ping pong game. No woman of any size would be inclined to play ping pong naked. It would be too physically awkward with all your bits be on show- is it that hard to throw on a t-shirt?
    And now the bikini. First, it looks

    • Karen says:

      The bikini looks totally uncomfortable, with the bottom piece too small, and tied tight at the hips so as to be as unflattering as possible. It rode up her butt so far it all but vanished, not an enjoyable sensation. Any woman would’ve ditched the bikini. As others said, no woman is going to wear an ill-fitting bikini and not a stitch more to various non beach events. Notice her friends all wore modest, flattering suits, plus towels. Hannah could’ve worn a well fitting bikini and still showed off her body.
      Her choices are no longer genuine… It comes off very calculated to get people reacting and talking. Well I guess she succeeded. But she has made Hannah totally un-relatable in the process.

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