This week on Girls … Jessa gets a new job. Marnie shows how bad a liar she is. And Hannah heads for both a personal and a professional breakdown.
Hannah commits professional and relationship suicide
Adam’s about to be on Broadway. Marnie’s clearly about to be a popstar. And, you know, you’re supposed to be the famous artist in the group, and now you’re just working in advertising.
Shoshanna sits on the periphery of this episode, but when she does fleetingly step forward she nails Hannah‘s predicament perfectly.
After a run of good episodes for her, this is a rough instalment for Hannah as she drives Adam further away from her, gets herself fired and is treated to a glimpse of her possible future. But that in no way excuses her behaviour, which starts out in the box marked ‘needy’ and ends up firmly in the one labelled ‘inexcusable’.
Hannah’s crimes escalate throughout the episode, starting with misjudgments and ending with a return to the compulsive self-centredness which she can never keep to one side for long.
She is still having sex with Adam, even though he is now living at Ray‘s so he can concentrate on rehearsals and perfecting an English accent straight out of the Dick van Dyke school of awful. It’s clear he needs his distance – to everyone other than Hannah, that is, who casually pops by under the flimsiest of pretences only to unload her fears on him:
It’s very hard to relax when I feel like you’re leaving me, only in such slow-motion I’m not even going to notice until it’s done.
Adam is at his wits’ end, but nonetheless does the gentlemanly thing by escorting her home in a cab. The civilisation of Adam this season has been cheering and disconcerting in equal measures. It’s as if he has suddenly matured ten years in a matter of months, whereas Hannah and her friends seem to be frozen in time, their emotional growth stunted.
Hannah then takes Elijah to her follow-up interview with Patti LuPone – a professional no-no – where she learns that the flamboyant star’s husband is a meek professor whose writing ambitions were suffocated by her career. Aghast, she engineers her own firing from GQ, taking solace in her own pretensions as she cruelly character assassinates each of her co-workers.
Am I seriously the only one of us who prides herself on being a truly authentic person?
It’s not so much that Hannah is authentic – she looks more like someone desperately trying to find her own identity than anything else – more that she uses her ‘authenticity’ as a justification for being rude and self-involved. That’s never more the case than at the very end of the episode where, stung by Shoshanna’s observation, she hears a couple having sex in Ray’s bedroom, storms in and discovers him with Marnie, declaring “everything’s my business”. In the supposed privacy of a closed bedroom. In someone else’s apartment.
Hannah has frequently behaved appallingly, with both strangers and her nearest friends. This, though, may have been the worst example of all, as she makes it clear that she feels her own needs justify a blatant invasion of privacy. By the end of next week’s finale, will she still have any friends?
Marnie moves forward
Having drifted in circles for much of this season, Marnie finally makes some forward progress this week despite some setbacks.
Now working as an assistant for the perpetually useless Soojin at her gallery, Marnie begins to open up about her artistic views to an elderly artist, Beadie. She’s on the verge of finally expressing a strong opinion when Jessa (who is still apparently on drugs) comes rampaging in, steals her thunder in her usual forthright fashion and promptly bags herself a job as an archivist.
Marnie prepares for an open mic performance with Desi. She is increasingly close to him but misreads his signals, coming on to him without realising his stated feelings about his girlfriend Clementine – who then shows up – are genuine. However, she is able to channel all her turmoil into a genuinely good performance, perhaps the first time she has ever reached below her usual shallowness and really connected with her emotions.
More confident and more willing to take the initiative, she goes over to Ray’s and practically drags him into bed. Which is where Hannah finds them.
The funniest part of the entire episode is Marnie’s complete inability to tell a credible lie. Unlike most TV characters – and like most of us in the real world – when put on the spot her mind freezes and she blurts out the first thing that pops into her head. From denying that she is the star of her own YouTube video to her excuse for getting away from Clementine – “I just remembered I can’t – I’m tutoring a homeless kid” – Marnie demonstrates a degree of humanity beneath the pristine surface which we have rarely seen from her.
The final payoff comes in the form of her timid excuse when Hannah discover her and Ray having sex: “He made me do it.” The funny thing, of course, is that neither she nor Ray really has anything to apologise for: they are both consenting adults, neither is being unfaithful, and it’s not as if Marnie and Shoshanna are particularly close friends anyway.
Hannah’s scathing condemnation of her – “You will never judge me again” – is as unjustified as it is hypocritical. As judgemental as Marnie can be at times, Hannah is far worse, treating her friends and their lives as mere bit-part players in her memoirs.
We have had one huge group meltdown already in Beach House. Could next week’s finale of what has been an excellent third season give us another, even bigger one? Change is definitely in the air …
Girls continues on Sky Atlantic on Mondays at 10pm.