We’re barely into Season 2, but I think it’s safe to say HBO’s Girls does sex and drugs and friendship about as brilliantly/awkwardly (brawkwardly? nah…) as any show in the history of television.
This week’s episode, “Bad Friend,” featured a doll standing watch over a comically traumatic sex-scene-as-art-piece; cocaine being clichédly/grossly snorted off a nightclub toilet seat; and several chemically induced, dubiously advised confessions that may alter the fabic of connections in the lives of Hannah, Marnie and their circle of pals. (Or who knows? Once everyone comes down from their highs, perhaps not.)
Let’s review the goings-on for two of the four Girls in question (since Shoshanna and Jessa were relegated to a single throwaway stoop-sale scene). (Also: Who needs more Shosh? And does our movement need a motto? Shosh.0? We can do better than that, right?)
HANNAH | This week’s opening scene perfectly encapsulated the horrors of being a young freelance writer, or more specifically, being a young freelance writer who’d actually like to make a living off her work, in New York City in 2013. I loved Hannah’s barely concealed surprise/disappointment when she realized her job interview was taking place in the lobby of the hideously named jazzhate.com. Somehow, that indignity was worse than her editor noting that at $200 per byline, she might want to consider writing something on a threesome with people she met on craigslist or perhaps a cocaine bender. (Another highlight? Said editor cheerily exclaiming, “Even better!” when Hannah noted she was a cocaine virgin.) Ahh yes, let’s consider the words inside the empty frame on the jazzhate wall, “This is your comfort zone,” and the words outside and to the upper left of the frame, “Where the magic happens.” Still, Hannah had to be sure: “So the magic happens outside your comfort zone?”
After learning from Shosh and Marnie that she could find her local junkie hanging outside the mailboxes, Hannah approached neighbor Laird for some coke. He clearly had been paying attention to the woman upstairs, or at least her wireless network names (“Madame Ovaries,” changed in the post-Marnie era to “Muffins Are Tasty”), but it turns out he’d kicked his drug habit. “Congratulations! I’m so sorry, you just didn’t look clean, so I…” Hannah responded. Clearly smitten, Laird helped Hannah score some drugs anyway, and she and Elijah started their afternoon/night of chemically altered honesty by making mental lists of their dreams — Elijah (raising show dogs) and Hannah (getting married wearing a veil and tasting 15 cakes before she does it). Stripped of inhibition, it turns out these hipster kids are as mundane as everybody else. And naturally, Hannah despite being “so jazzed to write the f*** out of this story,” almost forgot to take notes. (And then almost wondered if she should do it “in urine.” Amazing writing from Lena Dunham and Sarah Heyward, even if Hannah Horvath’s talents aren’t quite so certain.)
(Side note: Did anyone else flinch at Elijah’s throaway joke about wanting Hannah to dress like a girl he knew in middle school “who f***** her uncle and her stepdad”? It was one of those shocks for the sake of shock, and not at all amusing, especially since Hannah let her roommate get away with it unscathed. It caught me off guard in the worst way, and made me think of that old adage from Crimes and Misdemeanors: “If it bends, it’s funny. If it breaks, it’s not funny.”)
Anyhow, out dancing to the tunes of Andrew-Andrew, brand consulatants and iPad DJs (j’adore that description, bee tee dubs), Hannah and Elijah snorted a few more bumps, worked up a crazy sweat, and (in Hannah’s case) traded shirts with a stranger. (Helpful hint: Anytime you end up with the yellow mesh tank, you’ve lost.) In their drug-fueled haze, Elijah suddenly wanted to get honest with his ex-girlfriend/current roommate, and so he admitted to having had sex with Marnie. “Did you f*** her in a sexual way?” Hannah hilariously demanded, eventually planting a kiss on the guy. “I lost my boner almost immediately,” Eli pleaded. But eventually, we got to the heart of what was eating our protagonist: “I was meant to be your last!” Eli’s angry response — that Hannah’s self-absorption runs so deep, it extends to controlling his journey of sexual self-discovery to suit her own ego — was very astute, but it soon devolved into the duo (along with Laird, who just so happened to be trailing them all night) going to confront a post-coital Marnie at the home of artist Booth Jonathan (with whom Marnie dallied creepily in Season 1). An incensed and high-as-a-kite Hannah wanted Marnie to “recognize that maybe I’m not the bad friend and you’re not the good friend,” then added this stream-of-cocanious rant: “You lied to me with your eyes and you said to me by not saying anything that you’d done nothing, so guess who’s the bad friend? It’s you!” It’s funny that Hannah can rant about the definition of being a good friend as “not doing something that you know will intentionally really hurt the other person,” at the exact same time she busts in unannounced on Marnie’s painful date, knowing it’s got to be mortifying for her. Adding insult to injury, she added, “We could keep being friends just as long as you know you’re a bad one!” Marnie somehow responded apologetically, but I wonder if she just wanted her (former) BFF to get the hell out, sparing further embarrassment in front of the “important artist” she’d just slept with. Or maybe she just needed to work through the guilt of concealing intel from Hannah before she’s ready to stand up for herself. Either way, I’m hoping the confrontation isn’t over, and that Marnie works in a few biting counterpunches of her own the next time she and Hannah talk. Back at home, Hannah inevitably had sex with Laird, so long as he knows it’s one-time-only. We’ll see about that. He does live just one flight down, after all.
MARNIE | But back to Marnie and Booth Jonathan. Lo and behold, he just happened to be hanging out at her place of employment, the Wedgebrook Club, where older guys with money touch the waitress’s hip to get her attention, then put on a show of jocularity and “charm” in front of their friends. I loved how Booth greeted Marnie with a, “You work here. That’s f****** depressing,” without in any way damning himself for being a patron. Isn’t that f****** depressing, too, dude? Plus, the girl is working a job to pay her bills. Is it really such a travesty? I say no, unless she merely offers a few cutting bon mots (Booth has merely duped folks who’ve never heard of Damien Hirst into thinking he’s a genius, Marnie noted) then goes back to his place to be locked into a TV-lined crawlspace in the name of art, followed by a session of really icky sex.
The most upsetting images of the week, for me, were those shots of Booth making espresso, checking his AOL email and pounding nails into teddy bears as Marnie called out and hoped to be released from the “art box” lined with images of dying dogs, crying babies and mutilated animals. It was all a little too The Silence of the Lambs for my liking. A request: Could this seemingly smart, witty chick please woman-up and start living her life with dignity? Pronto? When Booth finally unlocked Marnie, her inital reaction — “What the f***, man? What the f***?” — was right on target, but after he hugged her, she melted into his plaything again. “You’re so f****** talented.” UGH! Their subsequent sex scene — in which Marnie looked about as comfy as if she’d been put on the wrack — featured this exchange (complete with copious grunting and pumping from Booth):
Booth: Give me everything. Let me control you. [Too much grunting to try to capture in this recap.] Look at the doll. Look at her. Describe her. How is she feeling?
Marnie: She feels sassy.
Booth: No, she’s sad.
Marnie: She’s sad
Booth: Are you on the pill?
[Aaaand scene. For Booth, anyway. Eep.]
Anyhow, with that heinousness, I turn things over to you. What did you think of this week’s Girls? Who’s really the bad friend? Is it time for Marnie to take a pledge of celibacy immédiatement? And was it just me or were Andrew-Andrew’s choices of “I Love It” by Icona Pop and “Tambourine” by Eve pretty awesome? Sound off in the comments!