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‘Girls’ Talk: “Boys”

Girls "Boys"
HBO

We’re joined by another critic to discuss this week’s episode of ‘Girls,’ titled “Boys,” in which the boys act out just as much as the girls do and everyone is sort of frustrating.

ScreenCrush editor Britt Hayes is joined this week by Kate Erbland to discuss the latest episode of ‘Girls.’ Kate is the Associate Editor at Film School Rejects and a contributing writer and critic for MSN Movies. You can tweet her @katerbland. You can tweet Britt @missbritthayes.

Britt: I think the major through-line in this week’s episode is that everyone is incredibly frustrating with moments of lucidity, which plays with the overall theme this season of everyone playing house like emotional Goldilocks. I want to kick it off by talking about the most frustrating people this week: Ray and Adam. It was almost too much to swallow seeing Adam regress to this person we thought he was when we only knew him through Hannah’s perception, but then he lays out this assessment of Ray and Shoshanna’s relationship that is so on-point that I forgive him for acting like a wacko. What did you think of where Adam is this week?

Kate: When we first catch back up with Adam, he’s clearly not doing so well, just banging around his apartment and tearing stuff (literally) up. And then it becomes readily apparent that he’s doing even worse than we first expected — he’s stolen a dog that he thinks needed to be saved, he’s oddly desperate for companionship, he’s only wearing sweats. Where is Adam at? Nowhere good, and he’s clearly been stewing on not just his relationship with Hannah, but everyone else’s relationship around him, even peripherally.

All those thoughts about Shosh and Ray? He’s been thinking about those for weeks, and while that’s clarified his focus, it’s meant that he’s completely unable to move on with his own romantic baggage. He’s steeped in Hannah’s life, even if he doesn’t realize it. And while he is jaw-droppingly on-point about Shosh and Ray, and even hismself and Hannah, that’s the only thing he’s on-point about, and it seems obvious that’s because that stuff has been the only stuff he’s been thinking about. Oh, Adam.

Britt: And he’s wearing a shirt. Adam wearing a shirt has to mean something is not okay.

But let’s talk about Ray, who I think is a bigger mess than Adam right now. No job, no career prospects or motivation to achieve something better than a coffee shop gig — the guy is just lost, and his age is making him scared to even try. Even worse, I feel like he’s dug himself this comfortable little hole where he can be lazy and never try, and while it makes him unhappy to be there, it’s easier than putting in any effort. And when poor Shosh suggests a Donald Trump seminar to perhaps inspire him, he shoots her down like she’s oblivious when all she wanted to do is help him — and he did imply to her that he needed the encouragement.

What the hell, Ray?!

Kate: Ray broke my heart this week, after breaking it in a different way two weeks ago when he told Shosh he loves her. While that may have seemed like a breakthrough at the time, you’re right, Ray hasn’t exhibited any interest in changing the rest of his life, even with Shoshanna’s support. His four-week relationship hasn’t changed a thing for him — and he knows it. Adam’s assessment that they are just “babies holding hands” was searingly precise, and Ray has to come to terms with that. The one “adult” and “stable” thing in his life isn’t that at all, and Ray is just as lost as ever — but now he has to bring Shosh along for the ride. And that’s not good at all.

Britt: Before this episode, I thought that men and women handled this feeling of being lost differently — I’ve encountered many men who act out like Ray when they’re angry with themselves and unsure of their path in life, but juxtaposing Ray’s behavior against someone like Hannah or Marnie makes that divide seem incredibly small. There’s really no difference between Hannah imposing unhappiness on herself and Ray imposing this black hole of, well, nothingness on himself — they’re both doing it selfishly, propelled by a lack of direction. Do you think the boys and girls of ‘Girls’ are all that different from one another?
Kate: I think that the divide between the boys and girls is shrinking every episode. After all, what was more unexpected in this episode than no less than Booth Freaking Jonathan having a breakthrough in his own wine cellar just when we are expecting Marnie to do something — what? bigger? better? — than just crying.

Britt: Marnie was frustrating this week, too! Her posturing as Booth’s girlfriend and preening in front of the mirror while bragging to Shosh about this fancy party was TOO MUCH. I’ve been feeling empathy toward Marnie this season because at times she’s felt as though she’s the most lost of all of them — all she has is her looks, and she’s starting to understand that she can’t get by on that alone, but for every step forward, she tumbles backward horrifically. We all knew she wasn’t really Booth’s girlfriend, and watching her figure that out was embarrassing to endure, but what struck me most was that as soon as Booth showed some genuine emotion, Marnie bolted. It’s the same as with Charlie, whose touchy-feely-ness pushed her away, and it’s the same as with Hannah for two reasons: first, whenever Hannah has needed Marnie, she’s only ever gotten this faux-concern from her so-called BFF, and two, Hannah did the same thing with Adam — as soon as she showed his genuine side, it was too much for her and she pushed him away.

Kate: Isn’t it weird that both Hannah and Marnie are trying to make their careers in creative endeavors — Hannah with writing and Marnie with art — that benefit from added personal emotion and a richness of feeling that they seem terrified of expressing in the real world? No wonder their careers are stalled out, they can’t manage to act personally in ways that will make them better professionally.

Britt: Oh! Excellent point, and one I hadn’t thought of at all. And both of them are so fake in their personal interactions — Hannah manufactures melodrama, while Marnie completely shies away from genuine emotion. These two aren’t so different, and though Marnie says the only reason she and Hannah are friends is because they’ve been in each other’s lives for so long, I think they could be legitimately better friends once they realize they’re not all that different from one another. And I think this idea works well when you consider their phone scene at the end, where neither of them can admit their problems to the other because that would mean they’d have to admit these problems to themselves. What did you think of Hannah this week?

Kate: Much like when I was hoping that Marnie would destroy Booth’s wine cellar, I hoped she would fess up to Hannah. Again, she let me down.

What’s so funny to me about this episode — one of the saddest and most depressing yet — is that it starts on such a high! Hannah is getting an e-book! But while Jessa might be correct in her assertion that it means nothing, it really does because Hannah, finally tasked with real work, is unable to come up with anything of substance, with Dunham going so far as for Hannah to give her heroine (maybe?) a ludicrous name just to highlight the uselessness of it all. It’s all so meaningless because Hannah has made it so, and something needs to change before she blows up her professional life to match her personal one.

Britt: I did love John Cameron Mitchell as the publisher — such impeccable casting. But you’re right, it is only meaningless because Hannah has made it that way. She’s not taking this book deal very seriously, and perhaps it didn’t help to have the hipster at Booth’s party tell her that an e-book isn’t a real book, and it really didn’t help to have the publisher gush over her work, making her think that it doesn’t matter what she writes because he’ll love it just the same.

Still, I’d love to read where that first chapter was going — “Room for Cream?”

Is there anything else that stood out to you this week?

Kate: I miss Elijah.

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