Monday, April 23, 2012

GIRLS Recap: Week Two, Awkward Sex

I honestly don't know whether or not I liked the second episode of GIRLS. I laughed a few times. I think there was a moment where I said, "that's a good point." I know I really enjoyed the wrap blazer Marnie was wearing in one scene, and the music cue the show closed on, but on the whole, I'm confused.

It's the same wonder I wondered after the pilot: is this show supposed to be ironic or realistic? Are they making fun of themselves (and in essence "us" slash formerly "us") or are they saying, "this is how it really is, ridiculous though it may be"?

MANY signs point to the fact that the show is meant to be a combo of an exaggerated/ironic depiction of, "Manhattan girls these days," and a homage to Sex & The City. Examples include:
  • Marnie is the sensible, conservative one, and she just so happens to work at an art gallery (just like Charlotte)
  • The four girls eat Tasti-d-Lite while chatting about relationship (ala Carrie and Co...8 years ago, before the arrival of Pinkberry and then everything more current than Pinkberry).
  • The Shoshannah character talks like the annoying high school-aged sister in a Disney Channel sitcom ("Obv you totes need to...).
But then there are an equal number of things that do feel cleverly crafted to represent exactly the way young 20-somethings function in that world (not "the" world, "that" world):
  • Hannah's relationship with Adam is painfully awkward and brutally one-sided, but feels totally realistic.
  • Hannah's fear about the potential STD's you can get from the stuff that gets up inside the condoms is hysterically naive, but in a totally legitimate way. There is that stuff they just don't teach you.
  • Jessa's reckless behavior and flightiness about the abortion is over-the-top, but I've known people who behaved the same.
I don't know you guys. I guess I'm going to have to give it another week or so, but I feel like the whole tone of the show isn't clear, so I don't know what to think/feel from one moment to the next. That said, this is supposed to be an episode recap, so here's a little of that for good measure:
  • Hannah has the most awkward sex I've ever seen on a television, film or computer screen with Adam. He treats her like crap, and she takes it because she seems to lack the confidence? knowledge? desire? to do otherwise. I think she thinks this is how it's supposed to be. I feel sad for her, but I've also been her, so points for accuracy.
  • Marnie has the most boring sex I've ever seen on television, film or computer screen with her boyfriend Charlie. They've been together for four years plus he's too nice, sooo, I'm not sure. It would appear she wants something that he is not but instead of breaking up with him to attempt at finding it elsewhere, she wants to say this line, "he's so busy respecting me that he can't stop looking past me to see what I need." Please god let that be an ironic representation of a female statement. Please.
  • Jessa? (is that her name? I can't tell) is going to have an abortion because she is pregnant and does not want to be. The other girls are being sensitive about this (making her an appointment, going with her, etc.), but she doesn't want any of that, so she blows off the appointment to go bang some guy in the bathroom of a dive bar...where she orders a White Russian. (what is it with the 90s references in this show??) While having sex with said some guy, she gets her period, meaning she's no longer pregnant. This does not stop her from having sex (marking the 3rd atrocious sex scene I've never before seen on a screen of any size or variety).
  • Oh, somewhere before the abortion-that-didn't-happen scenes Jessa, Hannah and Shoshannah talk about this book "Listen up Ladies" (or something like that) that is essentially "He's Just Not That Into You" (again, on purpose?). Shoshannah reads about page that's like, "If he doesn't want to take you on a date, he's not really interested in you. Hanging out doesn't count." And Hannah is like, "wait, really?" And Jessu is like, "Who are 'the ladies' they're referring to?" and Shosh is like, "we're the ladies." And Jessu is like, "I'm not a lady," and Hannah is like, "well, maybe we're not the ladies." And Shosh is like, "No, we're totes the ladies, " (direct quote), and Jessue is like, "well maybe I don't want to be the ladies. Why is everyone always trying to force behavior on us," which was actually sort of a poignant statement about who we're supposed to be and what we're supposed to behave like in our 20's, but ultimately it just means that if Jessa wants to be disrespected and reckless, she can and will. I think I like this scene, but I'm not sure...again.
  • Hannah goes in a job interview where she has a bizarre, flirty interaction with the interviewer. It goes incredibly well, owing to this bizarre, flirty interaction, and it seems like Hannah is going to get the job, but then she makes this joke about the guy having been a date rapist in his time at Syracuse, and he's like, "yeah, that's not appropriate for the work place, so this is probably not going to work out." If this was intended to point out that Hannah has no idea how to function as an adult, it worked. If this was supposed to endear me toward her in any way, it didn't work.
  • Hannah decides that if Jessa is going to have an abortion then she should use this party-at-the-OBGYN opportunity to get STD tests. She is certain that she has AIDS or some other STD because the gunk that gets up into the sides of the condoms can leak out, probably. It's this whole complicated theory that makes some sense if you're a hypochondriac and/or have no idea how condoms work, but I thought it was funny, I think. That is, until she took it to the point of telling the gyno that she thinks maybe she wishes she actually has AIDS because it would take the pressure off not having a boyfriend/job/income/etc. I believe this was intended to be a low moment in the show where we realize that Hannah is painfully silly and immature. It worked.
A important side note: In the week since its premiere, GIRLS has received a LOT of backlash. People are upset because none of the GIRLS are any other race but white. Other people are upset because some reviewers (male and female) have objectified Lena Dunham's looks and body. Then there are people who are upset because the show is one massive example of the fact that nepotism runs Hollywood.
I care about all of those things, but not when it comes to evaluating the actual content of this show. When it comes to that, I'm still at a loss. I don't know if I'm supposed to like these girls or hate them (right now I'm mostly indifferent). I don't know if they're making an important commentary about these times or just highlighting the worst examples of the worst times in our 20s. It's like I said to a friend last night, "I feel like I'm watching a depiction of the worst versions of everyone I know." But maybe that's exactly what this show is supposed to be?
I will say this; it's brave. It's brave to not try to just be jokey or just be dramatic. Whatever it is that the creative team behind this show is trying to do, it's different, and it's not simple. Regardless or whether I'm entertained by that or not, I appreciate that it's something I've never seen before.
What do you think? What am I missing? And how much is my opinion based on my current (vs. former) place in life?


  1. You're way better at articulating how you (and I) feel about the show. Kudos. One thing though: it may not necessarily be "stuff that gets around the sides of condoms" but there are STDs that can be transmitted even with condom use (HPV, herpes) and as a person with one of those STDs who never realized that was true until after she got it, I'm glad to see that it looks like they're going to make that a point in the show.

  2. I have watched both episodes now shouting both times at the screen "Dear God, please don't let society believe this is a real depiction of our generation!!" I am pretty sure I hate these girls. After having my stint working in NYC and certainly relating to some (SOME) of these situations I pray that they are just trying to show the extreme side or as you put it "the worst versions of everyone I know." I feel like it depicts the worst side of our generation to be honest. Why can't there be a show that depicts a balanced character who actually has their shit together. I guess that just doesn't make good TV, which I understand. But do we have to call this crap The Voice of Our Generation? Because if that's what people are calling her then I would ask that they talk to a few more people. Like you said, there are a few moments where I sit back and say, "ya, that's pretty accurate, I've been there." But for the most part they annoy me. Especially the interview scene! If they are trying to highlight that she has no idea how to behave in a real job setting/society then bravo, but really, who in their right mind seriously brings up date rape in an interview? Maybe I am just too old now (29) to get this show. I will give it maybe 1 or 2 more episodes, then I'm out.

  3. I more or less agree with Lisbeth. By the way, love that name, Lisbeth.

    I no longer live in NYC but I did for 6 years, even though I'm a dude not a girl, I feel I have a stake in this show. I wanted it to at least represent me and what it was like living in NYC, a little.

    It doesn't. The show is terrible.

  4. Jessie - totally agree with you on all points. But oddly, I want to like it! I really do, but there's no overarching theme or perspective and its killing me. I need the show to make a definitive point. If it's supposed to wallow in this ironic/dramatic/non-commital/post modern-we're-making-a-statement-by-not-making-a-statement then I'm out. But right now it's like watching a car crash - I just can't look away. I feel trapped and confused - not really what I look for in a show...

    - Emily

  5. I think it's insane how invested some people seem to be in this show. It's only had two episodes so far! 2! What do you expect, for it to be Emmy-worthy already? I think that the show was far too hyped and now everyone wants to jump on the "that show? It's totally awful" band wagon so they can feel superior, or current, or I don't know.

    Fact: pilots are almost always awful.

    I like this show so far. I think it has the potential to take its characters in a lot of different directions. I appreciate that the characters aren't immediately likeable, because they are interesting. Why do they do the things they do? What happened to them to get them here? I find it interesting how they interact with each other, they all seem to have a bit of frenemy happening with each other and I think that's pretty realistic for a lot of groups of friends.

    In short, I think it has potential and I'm interested to see where it goes. People need to take a deep breath and let the poor show develop before ripping it completely to shreds.