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‘Girls’ Review: “All Adventurous Women Do”

Girls
HBO

This week’s episode of ‘Girls,’ titled “All Adventurous Women Do,” refers to Jessa’s assertion that all adventurous women have HPV. And so ‘Girls’ continues to tread territory heretofore unexplored in such a frank manner, especially by women, as Hannah keeps dating the easily despised Adam, discovers she has an STD, and uncomfortably meets with her fabled ex-boyfriend Elijah.

It looks like everyone around Hannah is getting their lives together. Even the free-spirited, globe-trotting Jessa has picked up a job as a nanny for a mother of two played by the always fascinating and electric Kathryn Hahn. Hahn, as I’ve been saying for years, is a buried national treasure. Please give this woman all of the work.

Jessa as a nanny is better than you might think, considering her mostly irresponsible behavior. There’s just something so inherently sweet about Jemima Kirke’s face, and the scene where she listens to one of the young girls read her novel aloud while eating string cheese illuminates her character — and the events of last week’s almost-abortion — a little more.

Hannah dresses up like the corpse of Nancy Spungeon to seduce Adam, and in the morning while he plays with her belly fat she receives a call from her gynecologist informing her that she has HPV. Adam balks at the assumption that he transmitted the disease to Hannah, and when he brushes her off, Hannah sadly asks, “Will you still have sex with me?” Adam is a self-involved, inconsiderate jerk, and the very epiphany of the sort of nightmare women try to avoid. We’ve all had our Adams. The guys we know we shouldn’t like as much as we do, who are so wrong for us (and wrong for any woman, really) in every way, but there’s something magnetic about their cockiness and the way they just don’t care. The more Adam pushes her away, the more Hannah feels like she has to change his opinion of her. It’s almost like a challenge that she can’t forfeit. And like that, Hannah continues to see Adam, hoping that he’ll become what she wants him to be, even though he shouldn’t be anything for anyone, ever.

Marnie comes off a bit snobbier this week than the two previous episodes. When her boyfriend shaves his head (after Marnie encouraged him to stop caring so much about her opinions and feelings last week), Marnie reacts with disgust. When he tells her that it was for a co-worker starting chemo therapy, she reacts like an even bigger jerk, blaming him for withholding the information and making her feel bad.

Marnie’s art gallery puts on a show filled with the sort of caricatures of artsy types you’d expect to be at these things. Jorma Taccone shows up as the star of the art show, a cocky, womanizing little artist who responds to Marnie’s praise of his work with, “Try and give less of a sh-t.” It’s just the kind of carelessness Marnie’s been looking for. It’s not someone like Adam who is pretentious in a way that isn’t earned — this artist is talented and accomplished, and Marnie finds his pretension attractive.

The two go for a walk and Marnie tells him she won’t be giving it up to him like he’s used to with all his models and French girls, to which he assures her that they will be having sex. This causes Marnie to run back into a vacant office at the art show and masturbate. ‘Girls’ continues to keep it real week after week with these¬† examinations. Something like masturbation, which was covered on ‘Sex and the City’ in ways that were too jokey and clearly drew a line between the female and male versions of this act, is presented here like it would be if this were a man in a similar situation. There is no corny set-up to a punchline, no absurd presentation, and most importantly, there isn’t a big fuss made over the scene. It’s presented quietly and without pretense, eliminating any notion of a gender divide in private sex habits.

Hannah has become convinced that her long-term ex-boyfriend Elijah must be responsible for her HPV, and so she meets him in a bar where he reveals two very important things: First, he’s gay. And second, there is no test for HPV for men, which means Adam is lying, and Elijah can’t possibly know if he has it or gave it to Hannah. The use of HPV in the episode gives it another layer of tangibility. At least 50% of people will contract this disease at some point in their lives, and some women who contract it will develop cervical cancer, the leading cause of death in women. The way the show uses HPV, something that’s very current and has become more of a conversation in recent years in women’s health, is very thoughtful.

When Hannah realizes that Elijah is gay, there’s this startling moment where her lips begin to quiver. The bar plays the song ¬†”Our Deal” by Best Coast, one of many songs by the band about loving someone who doesn’t feel the same way. Hannah tells Elijah how weak she is, and says of Adam, “Right now I’m seeing this guy and sometimes I let him hit me on the side of my body.” It’s a funny line, but it also belies Hannah’s insecurity and how unsure of herself she is. It’s not that she feels necessarily degraded by Adam hitting her during sex, and I’m not even sure Hannah understands how badly Adam makes her feel about herself just yet. Adam degrades Hannah with his inconsiderate behavior, but that translates into some murky territory where their sex life is concerned.

There’s a moment at the end of the episode that not only expresses Hannah’s character perfectly, but also the way in which women share information. We have social networking at our fingertips, making it easier than ever to share every thought and emotion, but we also have to be so careful because we fear judgment from our friends and also the myriad of strangers that we allow into our lives through this medium. Hannah types and erases a few tweets on her Twitter account, going from semi-vague to blatantly honest before switching the song on her laptop to the all-too-perfect “Dancing On My Own” by Robyn, to which she types out a vague message inspired by her friend Jessa: “All adventurous women do.”

It highlights the catharsis in expressing yourself in such a vague way in the social stratosphere. No one knows what Hannah means except for her, but there’s a satisfaction in expressing that emotion and getting it out there, even if you’re the only one who gets it.

Quotable:

“You’ll feel less alone if you gather my fat.”

“I have pre-cancer!”

“She spends $1,000 a month on her weave, which host Jerry Springer thinks is unbe-weave-able.”

“My medium baggage is that I just bought four cupcakes and ate one in your bathroom.”

“The first time I f–k you I might scare you a little. Because I’m a man. And I know how to do things.”

“It’s not about the scarf. The scarf is not helping the situation.”

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