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!
Alan: The third season of Girls begins with the same shot that began season two: a pair of intertwined feet on a bed, with the camera moving toward their faces. Instead of Elijah and Hannah, we now have Adam and Hannah, and despite the unlikely, bizarre rom-com cliché from the end of season two, they now have a life of relatively domestic tranquility. They live together, he helps with her medicine, and they seem to tolerate each other’s faults. This is Girls at its most optimistic.
Of course, not all the characters are as happy as Adam and Hannah. Citing creative differences, Christopher Abbott left the show, which put Lena Dunham in an interesting bind since season two ends with Marnie and Charlie together. Dunham’s solution is masterful: Charlie left her without an explanation, so now Marnie – already the show’s least likable character – is an emotional tailspin. Now she lives with her mother in New Jersey, and her current state is the bizarro reflection of Adam/Hannah: whereas the happy couple moves forward, Marnie regresses with her new roommate.
What do you say, Svetlana? Did the opening episodes leave you optimistic for Hannah and Adam? Do you think Marnie will reach a point where she can form a genuine connection with a man (or adult human, really)?
Svetlana: The first episodes just confirm what I’ve had an inkling of happening: Girls is officially becoming the show about codependency. Which is both endearing and intensely annoying, depending on what kind of mood (and coupledom state) you’re in when you see it. Now that Hannah REALLY NEEDS Adam as a protector and guardian, of course they are happy and seem oddly stable. Now that Marnie is forced into not relying on Charlie for emotional crutches left right and center, of course she is more annoying/regressing.
But at least Adam Driver gets to fully sink into his idiot savant wiseman persona a little more fully this season, and his childlike clarity is a breath of fresh air of emotion in a sea of overthinking/overanalyzing/overneeding. I guess that is one one’s early-to-mid-twenties are all about: desperately seeking support in others as the world around you crumbles. That and not being able to rent a car on the cheap, but more on that in a minute.
The two characters NOT in their mid twenties, Shoshana and Ray (who also happen to be my favorite things about this show, always) are experiencing different kind of issues: becoming responsible, becoming LESS responsible, accepting the fact that you’re not in your early-to-mid-twenties (but maybe a solid decade ahead), accepting the fact that you’re becoming slutty, things like that. Which, once again, seals the deal with them being my favorite characters here, even if they are not a couple character any more.
Alan, I know Ray is your favorite. How do you see this season playing out for him? Especially since he is REALLY the victim of the Charlie disappearance more than Marnie-the-whiner. How is the loss of a best friend less important than loss of a boyfriend, let alone a loss of a best friend and a girlfriend in this twisted universe of emotional circle jerkdom? Why doesn’t he get sad taco parties (maybe with Colin Quinn) and hugs? WHY?
Alan: You make a really good point about co-dependency. It didn’t occur to me until you said it, but Marnie and her mother have that sort of toxic relationship. They’re dysfunctional, sort of like best friends who used to get along but now really hate each other.
I completely agree about how Adam seems in these two episodes. Instead of the bizarre schizo caricature from the first season – which, admittedly, was a shrewd bait and switch on Dunham’s part – we have a guy who is trying, basically, to be a good boyfriend. In an early scene from the season premiere, Adam bumps into Natalia with her friend (Amy Schumer) in tow. It’s an ugly scene – Natalia and her friend bitterly recount how Adam used her, then disappeared – and the surprising thing is the new Adam is different. Maybe he’s better now that he has someone who needs his attention?
Pairings are definitely central to these opening episodes, and the Ray/Shosh split has them on diverting, parallel paths. In other words, they’re starting to act their age. Shosh is more like a college student, finally, while Ray is slowly veering toward adulthood. Ray has always been my favorite character – he has the courage/stupidity for the snappy one-liners that I never blurt out – and despite his overall unhappiness, I’m optimistic for him. His job – all that’s left, really – will (hopefully) give him meaning and self-respect, which will in turn lead to positive relationships, possibly even healthy ones. It doesn’t hurt that he also has a place to live (he moved into Adam’s apartment after Adam moved in with Hannah).
But for all the pairings and splits, the first episodes center around Jessa, a young woman who’s relatively adrift. In season two, she disappeared on Hannah while they were visiting Jessa’s father in upstate New York. Now she’s in rehab – it’s unclear for what, and Dunham is quick to make jokes about this – but Jessa of course lashes out because she’s smart and unhappy. Her scenes in “group” are hilarious because she mocks the basic tenets of therapy. Her only friend is an older Brit (Richard E. Grant(!)), and he dispatches the best jokes of the episode. The quip about youth and intelligence is the perfect mix of arrogance and accuracy. Her arc is what drives the first two episodes: she calls Hannah at the end of episode one, and the road trip in episode is all about Adam, Hannah, and Shosh “saving” Jessa from rehab.
What did you think of Jessa’s recovery, Svetlana, and do you think Grant has a role in it? How do you think the road trip went for everyone? And what happened to the rocking chair Shosh bought in Cracker Barrel? It’s nowhere to be found after gets in the car.
Svetlana: Rehab is obviously the funniest part of the first two episodes. I think Dunham has a hard time making (true) light of situations she can actually relate to, but she lets her freak flag fly anytime she allows her characters to be in more extreme scenarios. Also, the rehab is the funniest part of the first two episodes because CASTING. The Girls team has always been a little bit like a kid in a candy store when it comes to fangirling over cameos, and season 3 is a scorcher of all of pop-culture obsessions they have: Danielle Brooks from Orange is the New Black, Kim Gordon (!!!), Richard E. Grant whose Whitnail and I performance is basically a Godfather role of all of the character’s futures (if they’re not careful), and of course Amy Schumer. I love seeing all these people A LOT, but it may turn to be a double edged sword, turning the show into sort of a drinking game of “WHO WILL POP-UP NEXT?” instead of a fluid narrative.
Regarding Jessa, I hope she gets to be a little more integrated with the rest of the team now. After season 1 she has really been on some sort of a lonesome journey and she could certainly use some friends, even if they’re all intesnsely preoccupied with their own codependency issues. Is she ok as she leaves the rehab? Absolutely not. But Jessa’s not-okayness is central to her character, so if they were to somehow miraculously save her, they’d basically have to find a way to write her off the show.
No one knows what’ll happen to Shosh’s chair. I hope it becomes some kind of weird transitional device in future episodes, a character in its own right.
Alan: The casting of the first two episodes is admittedly brilliant. It’s predictable, but I love how Jessa’s sub-plot with Danille Brooks unfolds because it makes total sense for Jessa to combine pity, insight, contempt, and promiscuity into a little ball of crazy (she accuses Brooks of being a lesbian, then goes down on her in the next scene). Now that she’s fully back into the fold and without a husband, it’ll be interesting to see how Jessa adjusts to New York (or not). Dunham and her crew argue that you need a partner to get through life so it stands to reason that her tailspin will happen soon, while the others stave off the inevitable.
I hope the chair becomes a creepy symbol or something, or a harbinger. For now, however, I like to think Shosh’s impulse Cracker Barrel purchase ends up in the home of Joshua (not Josh), who is maybe missing Hannah right now.