‘Girls’ Review: “Two Plane Rides”
Tonight brings the season 3 finale of ‘Girls,’ in which Hannah receives some exciting news that may change the course of her relationship. Meanwhile, Marnie comes to clean to Shoshanna, who is dealing with the repercussions of her great life experiment, and Jessa discovers the real reason why Beadie hired her.
There are many shades of selfish on the scale of what might constitute good and bad selfishness, and much of it is subjectively perceived — it grows even more emotionally complex when two people are in a relationship, like Hannah and Adam, where the latter feels as though he’s being the good kind of selfish when he takes his space to work on his character distraction-free (read: Hannah-free and drama-free) in the time leading up to his Broadway debut. But what’s good in his eyes feels bad for Hannah, who is negatively affected by his choice. It seemed inevitable that Hannah would soon be faced with a similar decision, effectively turning the tables and asking Adam to do for her what she’s done for him, albeit not very gracefully, but such is being human.
And it also seemed inevitable that this would be Adam’s reaction because just as people are innately selfish, we are all also so very insecure, and both of these emotional themes walk hand and hand in tonight’s melancholic finale. After feeling as though his performance wasn’t up to snuff (it certainly was, but his insecurity is natural), Adam lashes out at a supportive Hannah for dropping the news on him just before he went on that she’s been accepted into grad school… in Iowa. Hannah’s baby deer-like recital of a clearly rehearsed speech about how they’ll be artists working in different rooms was so sweet, and once again ‘Girls’ shows us how people often practice the lies they need to tell themselves by telling them to others. At first Adam seems okay with this news, but later, in a bout of fresh insecurity, he’s mad at her for saying she’s leaving him and tells her he’s tired of trying to work things out with her because nothing is ever just easy with Hannah.
The sad truth is that if you want to lead a truly selfish life that hurts no one, you have to be alone. And if you want to live a life without the drama of another person; or worrying about the feelings of someone else, which shift with a fluidity that may seem alarming when not under your own microscope, which has been silently trained on yourself for years; or dealing with concepts like compromise and having to make choices that will always, without a doubt, affect the person with whom you now share both emotional and physical space — well, you have to be alone. A few episodes back Hannah reflected that in some ways, Adam hasn’t even been born yet, and his accusations that Hannah’s life is too much drama, or that nothing is ever easy with her, are both painful for someone like Hannah to hear, but also indicate someone who is still fumbling through maturity, someone who doesn’t understand that relationships aren’t a one-way street or an emotional and physical dumping ground for his eccentricities and baggage. And it breaks my heart because Adam should be better than this, and Hannah deserves better than this, and people should all be better than this, but we’re not.
Speaking of which: Marnie is a very, very bad girl, but like I said last week, a guy like Desi who refers to something cool as “the tits” is douche bag central, so I guess we all saw this coming. Except for Clementine, who seems to be a slightly evolved and icier Marnie, reflected in their similar choice of dress, no doubt. Marnie moves from sleeping with her friend’s ex-boyfriend (not okay) to making out with a guy who has a girlfriend (also not okay). And this after she apologizes to Shosh for sleeping with Ray — and I’m not sure which is worse, her half-assed apology to Shosh; that she feels the need to apologize and immediately ditch Ray, thus indicating that no, she doesn’t have feelings for him, and yes, she was just desperate and feeding her loneliness all along; or that she learned nothing at all from hurting Shoshanna, even after declaring that she should respect the emotional property of other women — which, by the way, sounded like a lifeless imitation of something she read in O Magazine once while waiting for the dentist to whiten her teeth.
Back to those aforementioned shades of selfishness, which grow increasingly complex as we examine Jessa. As it turns out, the old and wise Beadie knew that Jessa was just the kind of person who could not only get her hands on some prescription medication, but who was just free-spirited enough to assist in her suicide. But that’s where things get tangled because suicide is one of the most ultimately selfish acts, and one you can hardly begrudge someone who is elderly and suffering. And then there’s Jessa, one of the most self-centered humans on the planet, being asked to perform one of the most selfless tasks imaginable — but if she says no, is that being selfish? Or is she saving a life?
Louise Lasser absolutely thrills me as Beadie, and gets to the heart of something so poignant, something that I didn’t even know this show was missing: a confrontation of mortality, of limited time and space for very personal relevance. Beadie asks us what good all of our work has been for when this is what’s left at the end. People like Marnie learn about her photography in art classes and people go to Sue Jen’s gallery to admire her voyeuristic and invasive work, but no one is looking at the very real, very suffering person who’s been sitting there all along. They regard her almost as a curiosity, not as a life.
But while others place value on our work, they aren’t able to place value on or validate our existence, and that’s often the sad confusion with creative types: critical praise confused with existential validation.
Existential validation is a good place to leave this. Shoshanna, sadly and horrifically begging Ray to take her back because she just wants to go back to when her life was good, and she honestly, desperately believes that breaking up with Ray was the self-destruct button she can un-press. Marnie, hiding around the corner and smiling as she watches Desi fight with Clementine over his feelings for Marnie, and although she knows it’s wrong, she can’t help but feel validated that she’s important enough to be fought over, to come between two people and destroy their love. And finally Hannah, although heartbroken, who can’t help but smile as she raises that prestigious acceptance letter to her face once again.
- Elijah creepin’ on that Major Barbara group shot might have been the only laugh out loud moment of the night. Thank you, Elijah.
- Caroline lives with Laird and they’re having a baby, and she can already feel its labia growing, so it’s totally a girl! So happy to see Caroline again.
- So… grad school is a pretty huge, couple of years-type commitment. See you in Iowa next season?