‘Girls’ Talk: “Females Only; Truth or Dare”
'Girls' returns with season 3, and these ladies still have a lot of growing up to do. HBO debuted two new episodes last night, in which we finally caught up with Jessa, who's off in rehab hardly trying to get it together. Meanwhile, Hannah and Adam host a dinner party and Marnie barely tries to get over Charlie. We discuss all this and more in this week's 'Girls' Talk!
ScreenCrush editor Britt Hayes is joined this week by Meredith Borders to discuss the latest episode of the HBO series ‘Girls.’ Meredith is the managing editor for Badass Digest, Alamo Drafthouse, and Fantastic Fest and you can tweet her @xymarla. You can tweet Britt @missbritthayes.
Britt: The first thing we have to talk about is the opening scene of "Females Only," which calls back to the opening scene of the first episode of season one, but now we have Adam in Marnie's place, spooning Hannah in bed. This one little scene says so much: Adam has replaced Marnie as Hannah's sole source of comfort and love and happiness, and as we see in the little montage, he's also become her caretaker. But I think this scene is also meant to highlight the cyclical nature of Hannah's behavior (and of human behavior, really). On the surface, it's a happy moment, but is it really all that good? Hannah has never truly become self-sufficient, and while healthy co-dependency can exist, I'm not sure that she (or Adam) knows what that is.
Meredith: It's interesting because on the surface, Hannah and Adam's relationship seems really great. They're taking care of each other, having normal relationship discussions and sex that doesn't seem to belittle anyone. Hannah's in a healthier, happier place than we've seen her in some time, certainly. But they are so co-dependent, and it takes Shosh to acknowledge to Adam why he and Hannah work: Hannah needs someone who has nothing else in his life to be her "partner" - Adam's perfect because he has no job, no friends, no life, no obligations or passions of his own. He's 100% Team Hannah 100% of the time, and while that seems great for Hannah, how long can Adam sustain that? And how long until Hannah feels smothered?
Britt: Yeah, we totally know why Adam is right for Hannah, but why is Hannah right for Adam? This episode shows us a lot about the surface of things, which all seem fine, but I think back to last season when Adam was at that AA meeting and gave the speech about how he had to show Hannah how to do everything -- even how to properly use soap! I think he enjoys taking care of someone, and I think he likes the idea of being the kind of person who improves someone's life. Look at how much he resents seeing her friends, but he jumps at the opportunity to play therapist to Marnie. They are both damaged people, and I get the feeling that Adam is just happy to have found someone who is equally or more damaged than he is. Speaking of which: the scene at Grumpy's with Natalia might have been my favorite moment, and we really need to talk about it.
Meredith: I think that's a great point -- Natalia never had a chance with Adam because she didn't NEED him. She's this solid, together woman who just enjoyed his company, and he couldn't get out of there fast enough, back to cradling Hannah and spoon-feeding her meds. I really hated the way Adam treated Natalia, and I'm so glad those chickens came home to roost almost immediately in season 3. He deserved to be confronted, and she deserved to have her say. Also, can we get Amy Schumer and Ray together immediately?
Britt: I love, love, love Natalia's confrontation with Hannah and Adam in the coffee shop. She's pulling some serious mean girl defense mechanism crap, but she's also picking at these insecurities that Adam and Hannah have both separately and as a couple, and I'm sorry, but everything she's saying is spot-on and made me laugh so hard. Hannah probably would feed her baby spoiled formula at this point in her life. That's not to say she can't still become a person capable of being a good mother! But right now? No way. And yes, I would KILL for Ray and Amy Schumer to be a couple. Perfect match.
But I think what really gets me about this scene, besides how awesome it is that Ray is laughing his ass off in the background, is that Adam succeeded: Natalia thinks he's a terrible person. His whole weird sexual encounter with her last season seemed orchestrated as some sort of sad test, just pushing her to believe all the worst things he thought about himself and all the horrible things that had been said to him in the past. He felt so unworthy of her, and he acted out as if check to make sure she was real. It was probably the most relatable Adam had ever been to me. And now we see what happens in the aftermath.
Meredith: I loved seeing Ray cracking up in the background, too -- that guy is so gloriously mean-spirited. But yes, exactly -- Adam did everything he could to push Natalia away, and then he ran back to his safe space where he knows he's needed and he knows he can't do any wrong because Hannah's so screwed up herself that it would be nearly impossible to disappoint her. But the best part is that he never thought he'd see Natalia again -- I never thought it myself. He said he's uncomfortable with confrontation, so it seems only fair he'd have one shoved directly in his face when he was least expecting it.
Britt: The other thing I love about these first two episodes is how much Jessa we get! Seeing her in rehab is so great and cringe-inducing. She's always so in control and so authoritative, so worldly and wise in every situation with everyone else, but here, not so much. And she tries to maintain that composure with these very damaged people who have, in her mind, very pedestrian kinds of problems. I think the writing here is incredibly sharp because we both empathize with Jessa and disapprove of her behavior. We want her to be a better person, but it's so horribly fun to watch her pick at these people and pull them apart.
Meredith: I loved seeing so much Jessa, but at first I was a little wary of these scenes. They seemed to err on the cliche of the one truth-telling bully in every therapy circle. But when she went into Karen's room to apologize - and boy, does she know how to apologize - we got to see a glimpse of something pure in Jessa, someone who truly wants to help, in her own splashy, rebellious way. And of course it's the one time she opens up to somebody (somebody other than her father surrogate, that is, who of course ended up as disappointing as her real father) that she gets kicked out.
Britt: I think it's interesting that Jasper is not only a paternal surrogate, but he's also a glimpse of a possible future for Jessa, much like Jessa's own father. I'm not sure that Jessa has come to realize that she's similar to her own father or in danger of becoming like him, or that her disappointment in him reflects her own failures, but I'm interested in seeing Jessa opened up more in the coming episodes. We went so far into Hannah's head last year and the entire season was very much from her perspective, whereas we're seeing a lot from Jessa's perspective in these first two episodes. Even the scenes without Jessa have a bit of her coloring to them: the road trip and the way that everyone acts almost like a neat, jokey little parody version of their characters, and the pre-dinner party scene in which Hannah and Adam talk about how she doesn't really like her friends.
Meredith: I think the two characters Lena Dunham's always felt most comfortable exposing are Hannah and Jessa; they're the two laid barest with the most frequency. Shoshanna and, to a lesser extent, Marnie, are still a bit of a mystery to me, and I'd love to understand them better in coming episodes. Jessa's therapist said that the more she gets to know her, the less she understands, but I feel like we understand Jessa, because Dunham does. Marnie and Shosh, as much as I love them, feel more like characters and less like people to me.
Britt: Oh man, Marnie is definitely more of a character than Shoshanna, though. I love watching wounded, broken down Marnie. That's the best kind of Marnie. Especially when she's awkwardly shoving food in her mouth like a heathen. And I love her mother, berating her for being so broken up about a guy (who isn't even as hot as Jan Michael Vincent, come on) and not dedicating enough time to making a real, viable life for herself on her own -- and there's so much duplicity there because her mother waited until too late in life to make a life for herself, and did she really do all that much or work that hard for what she has? She's just as entitled and spoiled as Marnie, really. I want to know more about their dynamic because it really shows us where Marnie comes from and who she is. But Shoshanna, man -- she is a cartoon. A lovable, hilarious cartoon, but so one-dimensional.
Meredith: I think Marnie has some depth, but I'd love to see more -- she's been wounded, broken down Marnie for two and a half seasons at this point. There was a moment at the end of season 1, at Jessa's wedding, where Marnie just decided to surrender her anxiety and perfection and just eat cake and flirt with Bobby Moynihan -- I miss that Marnie. But I do really enjoy seeing her dynamic with her mother, because her mom offers this poisonous support. She'll help her daughter decorate her craphole, but she'll ridicule all of Marnie's life choices as she does it.
I have no problem seeing how Marnie became Marnie, and I guess you're right, that's what makes her more dimensional than Shosh, because how on god's green earth did Shosh become Shosh? I love her, and I find Zosia Mamet's comedic delivery priceless, but who the hell is she under there?
Britt: Maybe we'll actually find out this season! Speaking of which, what are some things you hope to see this season? Personally, aside from Ray hooking up with Amy Schumer, I'd like to see Marnie dating some non-Charlie, non-Jonathan Booths, and I want to see Hannah and Adam's relationship get real honest because right now it seems a little too neat.
Meredith: I agree on all of those counts. One of the main things I wanted out of a new season has already been delivered: I want to see these girls be friends to each other, because too often they aren't. The dinner party and the road trip were little things, but they made me happy because they were acts of real friendship, as was Hannah calling Marnie and (eventually) telling her the truth about the trip.
Britt: Well that about wraps it up for this week! We'll see you guys back here next week for another edition of 'Girls' Talk following episode 3, "She Said OK."