BYT is recapping Girls Season Three for your reading pleasure. Rather than a straight review, we’re doing it “he said/she said” style with recappers Svetlana Legetic and Alan Zilberman. They will both feel a lot of feelings, and A LOT of those feelings will be disparate. Enjoy!
“Dead Inside” begins with Hannah waiting for a meeting with her editor David (John Cameron Mitchell). Something strange is happening around the office, and Hannah figures it out slowly: David is dead. Her first reaction is, strangely, annoyance. She wants to know what this means for her e-book. The rest of the episode is a series of Hannah’s cool reflections on David’s death, and how they astonish others. It surprises Adam that Hannah does not stop to think about the loss of human life. Ray (correctly) remarks that he’s taking the news harder than Hannah despite the fact that Ray’s only memory of David ends with assault.
There is a lot to unpack here, whether it’s the show’s purpose or how it strikes an uneasy balance between comedy and horror. But first I want to talk about the episode’s funniest scene, where Adam and Hannah debate the merits of Gawker. Hannah reads an insensitive Gawker post about David’s death breathlessly, while Adam is quick to point out how their writers are scum. It’s an interesting argument, especially since Gawker has been overtly critical of Girls’ nepotism and, for all intents and purposes, Adam is the show’s moral center. What do you think of the Gawker scene, Svetlana? Is Dunham speaking directly to John Cook and the others, or would Hannah merely be obsessed with the gossip site just because? How should we take this scene in light of the recent Dunham/Vogue controversy on Jezebel?
Svetlana: Well, I for one, find the episode both hilarious and (surprisingly?) courageous on Dunham’s part. Not too many people would take the risk of ongoingly making themselves the least likable character on their own show, and she well, she seems to thrive on it. But that’s not all.
In 2000teens there is no real empathy out there, no actual connections between people, no nothing. Just deadness inside. And in some ways, at least Hannah is not afraid to admit to it, instead of simply posturing her way through grief. She is a sociopath, yes, but she is a sociopath that lets you know she’s one. Which makes her way less dangerous to society than those sociopaths lurking everywhere else in this show (at least in my book).
And I feel it is not Adam, but maybe Laird and Caroline who are emerging here as Hannah’s Jimminy Crickets of sorts?
Alan: So there’s this splashy montage where Hannah, along with Caroline and Laird, prance through a cemetery. Personally, I found the whole thing deeply disturbing. A cemetery is a place for solemnity, for me anyway, I wouldn’t dance through one like I’m an asshole. There’s even a scene where the three of them accidentally interrupt a funeral service, which to me felt like an admonishment of their behavior. I guess I can understand high school students being this cavalier, but to me Hannah et. al felt like assholes. Maybe I’m wrong?
The funeral montage ends with probably the most important scene of the episode: Caroline tells a story about Adam and death. It’s meant to move Hannah – she feels nothing, obviously – and Caroline sees right through Hannah after Caroline admits it’s a lie. The scene doesn’t exactly work for me: Caroline’s story felt so contrived I couldn’t quite believe it, but at least it sets up the most reveal in this dense half hour. And Laird’s reaction to Caroline’s story – he’s moved to tears – is a queasy combination of sympathy and naivete. Returning to Adam, Hannah steals Caroline’s story so that Adam can think she’s a complete person.
This is where the show veers into Dexter territory: Hannah realizes she’s missing an essential part of her humanity, so she borrows an anecdote in order to pretend. It’s all the more fucked up that it’s a fake story she heard from Adam’s sister. Svetlana, you say there’s no empathy out there in this decade, and I hope you’re not right. Can you elaborate a bit? Do you think Dunham is eviscerating this character in particular, or is she making a broader point about our Gawker-obsessed generation?
Svetlana: I do agree that the cemetery prancing scene (great choice of word there, btw Alan, “prance” – because that is EXACTLY what they do) is meant to be the third-to-final nail in Hannah’s sociopathy coin. It IS meant to sort of make you shudder. And then the story scene, while so obviously fake to you or me or other humans with souls, is the second-to-final nail: all Hannah knows at this point is that she is supposed to react to stuff like this but she can’t even register if something is obviously a fake emotion or not, not even in others. When she takes the story to Adam, we really do know the final nail is there: Hannah is truly, legitimately dead inside. So while all three scenes are completely shudderworthy to a viewer/bystander – they feel sort of necessary and sort of necessary in that sequence. We already felt uncomfortable with the front load of Hannah simply being unable to mourn, now it is taken to almost Monty Python (or Dexter) levels macabre.
As for that final question, I do too, Alan hope that that statement is not right. I, personally, do think empathy is still around, maybe just not quite as alive and well as it used to be, and internet has played a huge role in the general desentization of our humanity. It turned things to think and feel about into things to simply email around or share on social media, and as such, in potentially real grieving scenarios, some of the youth of today simply doesn’t know what to do with themselves. So they go prancing through cemeteries in hopes of making themselves feel something (or something to that effect).
Overall, a powerful episode, and as I mentioned, my favorite one of the season thus far, maybe because it DID make me feel uncomfortable. A lot of people have mentioned with Neil LaBute’s latest movie Some Girl(s) that he lost a little bit of his mysanthopy edge, and this episode evoked in me some of those previously LaBute reserved shudderring at humanity. So, well done Lena (?)