‘Girls’ Review: ‘Tad and Loreen and Avi and Shanaz’
Tonight’s episode of Girls is a lot to take in, with a long title to match. “Tad and Loreen and Avi and Shanaz” offers up some real anxiety-inducing bombshells, and although these moments punctuate the half-hour with shock and awe, it’s the dialogue exchanges between various character pairings that provide the most telling aspects.
Tad is gay. Let’s get that out of the way. And it’s not a midlife crisis, like Loreen desperately wishes. But it kind of makes sense, when you think back to the moments we’ve spent with them, just as it will likely make sense to Loreen when she pauses to reflect. As usual, Tad offers up a gem of wisdom—he’s sure that he’s not wrong because this is the hardest thing he’s ever had to do, and he’s doing it. This seems to run counter to the advice he previously gave Hannah, enabling her to give up on the Writers’ Workshop because it was just too hard to pursue that dream. The things that we really want and that we need to do are never easy, but they’re often worth the effort.
Although Tad drops that bombshell (in the first minute of the episode, no less), this week is really more about Loreen. Through her, we’ve always been able to understand more about who and how Hannah is, but “Tad and Loreen and Avi and Shanaz” is the most blatant connection between the two yet. Loreen’s initial reaction to Tad’s coming out is incredibly dramatic, but also understandable. Like Hannah, she assumes everything her significant other does is about her, particularly if those feelings or actions run counter to her own desires or her (often unreasonable) relationship ideals. When one person lobbies for change that affects the other in a relationship and claims “It’s not about you,” it is, as Loreen solemnly puts it, “Not not about” them.
The episode is a succession of charming, insightful and startling duet scenes between characters (save for the dinner party). Hannah and Cleo (Maude Apatow) have a juvenile adventure, and it’s telling how much Hannah relates to Cleo on an emotional level—they talk about boys and impulsively dance on the sidewalk before impulsively running off to get impulsive piercings. Later, Hannah apologizes to Fran, who would prefer not to date someone as dramatic as Hannah, which she naturally rejects, even going so far as to welcome some ill-presumed misogyny into her life.
It’s similar to the way Loreen tells Tad that his coming out is merely an extension of the same misogyny that makes him envious of her tenure. Both Loreen and Hannah project their bruised pride onto the men rejecting them with unwarranted cries of misogyny. They have nothing else with which to counter or defend themselves—how can Loreen defend herself against something that isn’t an attack on her, not really? And how can Hannah tell Fran that he’s wrong about her when she’s done nothing but prove his point—even and especially by desperately explaining how drama-free she really is.
This behavior would be fertile ground for actual misogynists and Men’s Right Activists, who believe that women cry foul at men unfairly. It’s not wise behavior from either Loreen or Hannah, and throwing the M word around in self-defense is irresponsible. But there’s something relatable about it, about the way they both feel emotionally threatened and rejected by these specific men, and how they feel as if their womanhood is under attack. Loreen is effectively “efemulated” by Tad’s revelation—the woman’s version of emasculation. Hannah feels as though her “drama” is merely a reflection of how much she cares. Drama, sensitivity, empathy—these are all typically feminine-aligned traits. To have these perceived (whether by someone else or her self) aspects of Hannah’s personality called into question by a man hits her misogyny reflex.
Meanwhile, there is real misogyny happening elsewhere in the episode, and it’s incredibly thoughtless and alarmingly casual. In last week’s episode, Desi proved himself as a faux feminist White Knight, obnoxiously praising Hannah for not contributing to a culture where women in the arts tear each other down. This week, Desi proves how disingenuous he is by calling Marnie a “bitch” when she disapproves of him blowing their entire advance on German guitar pedals. And yet, she still accepts the marriage proposal from this pretentious, narcissistic phony.
Shoshanna follows through on her date with Scotty (Jason Ritter), a real khaki-core go-getter who has his professional life on track (Tinsley instant soups do okay, I guess). The two of them bond over their relationship history, but Scotty agrees a little too eagerly with Shosh’s declaration of “bitches be crazy”—a casually reductive phrase that feels practically retrograde now, in 2015. What’s worse is the way Scotty tells Shosh, “We don’t use words like failure, pathetic and lame.” We don’t use those words, he says. We. Scotty immediately appears to be the kind of guy Hannah accuses Fran of being: the kind of guy who wants to slyly control an independent woman—for all Shosh’s talk of strong, independent women and rallying behind friends like Hannah when men kick them down, she’s all too eager to sit back and let Scotty take the wheel. It’s easier than finding a job, I guess.
- Does this mean we’ll see Tad and Elijah hanging soon? Maybe Elijah can show him the gay ropes.
- “I think I can help him.” Girl, nobody can help Shia LaBeouf.
- “They had sex at Auschwitz?”
- “I think you’re not the person you think you are.” And with that, Fran sums Hannah up in one sentence.
- Fred Melamed and Jackie Hoffman play Avi and Shanaz. Another bombshell: Loreen hooked up with Avi last summer, so she hasn’t exactly been perfect in her marriage, either.
- Shoshanna describes her vagina as “slimy.” This is hardly surprising.
- Marnie says she’s not materialistic. Marnie has never been more delusional.
- I’m on Hannah’s side. I want Fran to give her another chance, but only because I don’t want Jake Lacy to go away yet.
- This week in JFC, Jessa: She’s still convinced that she’s expertly playing Ace and that it’s only a matter of time before he shows up naked at her door. I really want to see Jessa have a moment of clarity where she realizes she’s not so great. She’s become such a monster.
- I really loved watching Shosh pluck her bikini line. It’s the little moments like this that accentuate the show with realism.