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‘Girls’ Review: “Hannah’s Diary”

Girls
HBO

Well it looks like our girl Hannah finally got a job in this week’s ‘Girls,’ but — like real life — that doesn’t mean things are going to smooth out so quickly. Hannah’s new boss is a little too friendly, and there’s still that whole Adam situation to deal with.

Hannah has taken a job as an administrative assistant in what appears to be a shared doctors’ office, with Richard Masur making a guest appearance as her new boss. He notices that she looks a little stiff, so he proceeds to give her a very inappropriate massage, complete with a little chest groping. When Hannah’s co-workers tell her they’ve been groped too, but it’s something they’ve gotten used to because, to them, the perks of the job are more important than losing a little dignity to an inappropriately handsy boss. It’s at this point that Hannah must make a choice: Stay with her job and put up with a little unwelcome groping, or lose her job and start the job search all over again. It doesn’t look like there’s a human resources representative anywhere in site, and with the way these women are talking, if there were, it doesn’t loo like Hannah would be receiving any real help.

The plot development here is authentic as always — not every woman in a similar situation at work is going to be afforded the opportunity to reach out to someone above their superior for help, and in this current economy it’s easy to understand why a person wouldn’t want to risk losing their job. It’s a horrifying conceit that ‘Girls’ manipulates with a little humor, making the entire situation effectively squirm-inducing.

Later, her boss pulls a clever little trick by asking her to tell him if his groping ever crosses a line or bothers her because he may be a little on the creeper side, but he means well, I guess?

Alex Karpovsky returns this week as Charlie’s friend Ray, and though Christopher Abbott is doing excellent work making Charlie a fully realized, empathetic character and not just a tool used to create conflict with Marnie, Karpovsky damn near steals every scene he’s in. This week Ray convinces Charlie to do a little snooping around the apartment while the girls are out, and it’s all fun and cute until Hannah’s diary is discovered, which apparently holds some unhappy information for Charlie. But more on that later.

Jessa is proving to be quite the lovely nanny, engaging with the children in ways that are genuine — and she’s really impressing her employers, the Lavoyts, played by Kathryn Hahn and James LeGros. In particular she seems to have caught the eye of Mr. Lavoyt, but later in the episode when she cops to briefly losing both daughters (while trying to start a neighborhood nanny union with a table of disenfranchised nannies), their relationship seems to be blossoming into something more akin to father and daughter.

Not much has been said about Jessa’s parents, but we’re led to assume that like the other girls, she’s been afforded a decent amount of privilege. Here Jessa mentions lying when she was a kid about how close she and her mother were, elucidating a need for parental care that surely fuels her beautiful ability and desire to connect with children.

And what about that perfectly disorienting shot at the playground? This week’s episode was directed by Richard Shepard, director of the underrated film ‘The Matador.’ Shepard makes smart choices this week while also keeping in line with Lena Dunham‘s established style — there are still plenty of facial close-ups, but Shepard is able to expand on some of the scenes by providing wider, more challenging shots. The overhead shot of Jessa at the playground is fueled with the appropriate anxiety and confusion, punctuated by Jessa standing on a hopscotch court and shouting “F-ck!” next to a small child.

Shoshanna, meanwhile, has bumped into a former camp friend (maybe the boy she gave some hand action to, as mentioned in the second episode?) and the two set up a date at Shoshanna’s place to watch a movie. Things get steamy pretty fast, and in the midst of foreplay Sho blurts out that she’s a virgin, making her date pump the brakes. He refuses to take her virginity — even though she’s totally eager — because he thinks she’ll become clingy and the idea of bleeding freaks him out. It’s typical immature, short-sighted stuff that both men and women are guilty of — the cliche is that virgins are automatically going to become clingy after sex because they haven’t yet learned to separate sex from love, which plays well into Hannah’s other problem this week: Adam.

Hannah receives a weird sex-text from Adam: a picture of his penis wrapped in squirrel fur. He immediately follows that text up with one that says he’s sorry, but the picture wasn’t meant for Hannah. She focuses more on the bizarre theme of the picture rather than the fact that Adam continues to disrespect and disregard her feelings entirely, and when this dawns on her, she marches over to his place. The scene is made funny only because Hannah let her co-workers draw ridiculous fake eyebrows on her face because hers are “patchy.” She tells Adam that she doesn’t want a boyfriend: ”I just want someone who wants to hang out all the time and thinks I’m the best person in the world and wants to have sex with only me.”

Finally, Hannah makes her feelings explicit, and just as she’s telling him it’s over, he grabs her and the two start fiercely making out. It’s frustrating. Here is this man who treats her with so little consideration and isn’t interested in commitment at all, but Hannah can’t (or won’t) separate her feelings from the act of casual sex, so she pushes on, hoping he’ll come around. It’s desperate and it makes Hannah — strangely — a more empathetic character because we can understand the mysteries of attraction and the desire to be respected and cared for, and ultimately kind of loved.

The end of this week’s episode finds Marnie, Jessa, Shoshanna, and Hannah at a local club to see Charlie and Ray’s two-man band performance. Once Hannah arrives, Charlie announces that they’re going to play a new song for Marnie and Hannah, called “Hannah’s Diary.” The song consists of Charlie singing the words from Hannah’s journal, in which she talks about how Marnie should stop whining and leave Charlie already because Marnie thinks Charlie is way too nice, and this can’t go on forever. The moment is deliciously awkward and almost too hard to watch, made even worse when Marnie throws her drink on Hannah and calls her a “b-tch” in a display of projected anger so unfortunate it’s heartbreaking. Clearly Marnie is more angry at herself and at these men for snooping, even if their snooping is made retroactively okay in light of their discovery.

And it’s ultimately good — Marnie needs to grow up a little and quit jerking Charlie around. He is a nice guy, and he doesn’t deserve it… But pitting Hannah and Marnie against each other isn’t exactly nice, either. Hopefully next week Marnie can come to terms with who she is and what she’s been doing here.

Quotable:

“Or just ask him if you can borrow his d-ck to club some baby seals.”

“Oh yeah, a leg in each kayak. You can die that way.”

“When you see a family like this don’t you just wonder if they’re all having sex with each other? Just lockin’ the door, closin’ the curtains, plowing the family tree.”

“These are holes… these are underwear with holes in the crotch.”

“You smell like a baby.”

“You look like a Mexican teenager… with rules.”

“I totally don’t get attached when I bleed. I’m a totally unattached bleeder.”

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