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‘Girls’ Talk: “Free Snacks”

Girls Talk Free Snacks
HBO

Welcome back to “‘Girls‘ Talk,” where we at ScreenCrush are joined by critics each week to discuss the latest episode of the HBO series. In this week’s episode, Hannah is seduced by the free perks of her new job but finds that gainful employment has its downsides, as well. Meanwhile, Marnie and Ray continue to connect on a personal level, and Shoshanna attempts to put her life in order, while Jessa seems to be flourishing at her new job. 

ScreenCrush editor Britt Hayes is joined this week by Allison Loring and Jacob Hall to discuss the latest episode, “Free Snacks” (full review). Allison is a contributor for Film School Rejects and Fan Voice, and you can tweet her @allisonloring. Jacob is a contributor for ScreenCrush, Movies.com and OneOfUs.Net, and you can tweet him @JacobSHall

Britt: I have to say, I’m a little disappointed ‘Girls’ has dumped the Caroline story so abruptly. I thought for sure that was going to cause more of a rift between Hannah and Adam — then again, I’m not sure where else that plot could have gone. Do you think we’ll be seeing Caroline again before the end of the season?

Allie: I was also completely shocked that there was NO mention of Caroline in this episode! The end of last week’s episode definitely made it seem like we were being set up for Hannah and Adam’s relationship to hit its first major stumbling block since they got back together, but it looks like they are as happy and in love as ever. I hope we see Caroline again before the end of the season, but in a meaningful way that hopefully explains why Adam was so upset Hannah kicked her out and then seemed to immediately forgive her for it.

Jacob: I can’t imagine us not seeing Caroline again. Why cast someone as good as Gaby Hoffmann and give her such an unceremonious exit? I definitely think she’ll resurface, but considering her mental state, I’m very worried that she may not resurface alive and/or well. Then again, as someone who goes “awww” at almost every thing that goes on between Hannah and Adam (does that make me a weirdo?), I’d honestly be a little relieved if she didn’t pop back up to wreck their relationship, especially since they’re doing so well. After all, isn’t this the first time the two of them have even seemed on the verge of financial stability?

Britt: That’s where I’m torn! This show is so tricky. On the one hand, I kept waiting for Hannah to regress because I just didn’t buy that she had changed all that much, but on the other hand, I do want her to be more of a grown-up. Would this show be that interesting if she was getting her life together? Would it be that relatable anymore? I think ‘Girls’ is so great at character complexity — Hannah is evolving, but she’s still sort of the same Hannah, and she’s bound to repeat old mistakes or regress from time to time. No one is ever that simple. Which brings us to her new job and all the free snacks. So many free snacks. What do you guys think of her new position in the advertorial department at GQ?

Allie: I really enjoyed seeing Hannah in a “corporate” environment. Her immediate love of the free snacks did not surprise me, but her confidence in that first meeting DID surprise me (in a good way) as she asserted herself to her new boss and not only presented her ideas in a concise way, she tried to help her fellow “team” members flesh out their ideas. It was a professional side of Hannah we haven’t seen much of and I was honestly proud of her. But, as Britt said, as much as I want her to be more of a grown-up, that is only interesting for so long. I think seeing her realize having free snacks and a steady job may mean leaving behind the writer persona she has always tried to embody was a realistic way Hannah would start to question her new environment and how she fits into it. It was a great way to see these two sides of Hannah battling against each other — the more grown-up version already thinking long-term, and the old Hannah having a mini-breakdown in the bathroom as she tries to process everything.

Juggling work and your passions is something we all deal with, so I think this is a very relatable situation and I am excited to see how Hannah navigates things. Can she do both? What does being a “successful” writer really mean to Hannah? I do worry what being gone from 9 to 6 and then writing at night will mean for her relationship with Adam, as he seems more and more eager to finally see her at the end of every day.

Jacob: This is the part of the show that snuck up on me and nearly gave me a panic attack. I’ve never worked in the advertorial department of a major magazine, but if I had to count up every day that saw me putting aside my personal writing projects so I could write to pay the rent, I’d have to count almost every day since I graduated from college. Hannah’s bathroom breakdown is something that I’ve actually experienced firsthand. It’s almost impossible to write for eight hours a day and then come home and write some more. The shot of Hannah sleeping on her couch with her laptop hit me like a ton of bricks because that’s my everyday. If this was real life, I’d imagine Hannah would get used to the 9-to-5 thing and finally start growing into a less selfish, stable and far more boring person. But since this is ‘Girls,’ I think we’re an episode or two away from her making a dramatic exit from GQ and burning a few bridges in the process.

Britt: From a writer’s perspective, this is definitely the most relatable episode yet, and I’ve felt Hannah become increasingly more relatable in recent episodes as a writer. Like last week, when Caroline told her she could just write new stories until her book wasn’t under contract anymore — yeah, right. I understand how impossible that must feel for her. But this week hits close to home for all of us in a big way. Every day we go to work and write for a living, and it’s not the kind of creative, soul-fulfilling writing that we wish was paying our bills. But in order to get to that point, we have to do the kind of writing that perhaps isn’t as meaningful, but will allow us to make rent and pay our bills and support us while we continue to pursue our ultimate dream. The sad truth is, we end up with so little time to pursue what we really want because we get tired, we spread ourselves too thin, we procrastinate, and somehow we need to make time for our personal lives, too. Hannah has a choice to make when she gets home every day now: dedicate time to her personal writing career, or spend time with the person she loves. She can have a day job, pursue her dreams, and have a relationship with Adam, but none of this is going to be easy, and knowing the way Hannah struggles with stress, this is going to be a huge test for her.

Allie: Agreed — this is the most relatable we have seen Hannah and knowing her personality and how she handles stress, it should be incredibly interesting to see what happens next.

Jacob: But hey, at least she can forget about her troubles with all of those free Sun Chips. I’d work anywhere that offered me free Sun Chips.

Britt: I don’t think I’ve ever related to her more than when she walked into that meeting with bundles of free snacks in her arms.

So this week Marnie and Ray’s relationship is continuing to develop, and while I think it’s incredibly interesting and is making Marnie — as Ray would call her — a more sympathetic character, I’m still kind of uncomfortable about their whole situation. Am I the only one who feels like it’s weird when they have sex? I’m sure I’ll get over it. I do like that Ray seems to be able to crack Marnie’s shell in ways that no one else can.

Allie: Oh it is incredibly awkward when they have sex! But I think that is also kind of the point. These two characters seem to have nothing in common, and yet their ability to be brutally honest with one another (and take it) seems to have brought them together and that kind of honesty DOES create a sense of intimacy. It is then kind of comical to see how that sense of intimacy and care for one another hasn’t QUITE extended to the bedroom. Right now I think they are doing it because there IS an attraction there, but it also seems like they’re both coming from the perspective of, “We’ve already done it before, why not do it again?” I like the way their relationship is developing, and I’m definitely interested to see where it goes.

Jacob: I’m up for any plot developments that keep Ray in the picture (we don’t want him going the way of Charlie, right?), and pairing him with Marnie lets the show do that awkward relationship dissection that it does so well. As weird as these two are together, I think it may, somehow, be a match made in heaven. Marnie needs someone who can take her down a peg or two without actually hurting her, and Ray needs someone capable of absorbing his constant negativity. I’m rooting for them on this one. It’s certainly not as fluffy as the Ray/Shoshanna pairing, but it feels like a pairing that could actually work if both of them are willing to commit to it.

That’s why this show is so great — I feel like I’m talking about two friends instead of two characters.

Britt: Speaking of Shoshanna, it takes Ray getting his life in order for her to reflect on her own shortcomings, but she’s going about it the entirely wrong way! Instead of refocusing on school and her studies, she’s just concerned about forcing some dumb guy she’s seeing into a committed relationship. She’s treating her personal life like it’s a competition with Ray’s, and that’s just going to make things messier. You know, out of all the girls, I think Shosh might be the most messed up right now. At least Jessa has a job.

Allie: Shosh has always kind of been on the periphery making comments and judgements about the rest of the girls (albeit those observations are usually hilarious), but she seems to be on the verge of having a meltdown of her own. And that’s not surprising considering she’s about to graduate and be thrust out into the “real” world and the friends she has who are already out in that world seem to be struggling. But I am surprised Shosh seems to care so much about comparing her life with Ray’s since she did not seem at all interested in what he was up to when he was telling her at Hannah’s birthday. I wholly believe that she is starting to freak out about where her life is and where it is going, but using Ray as the yard stick to measure by seems a bit random to me. Just wait until she finds out who is currently sharing Ray’s bed!

Jacob: This season hasn’t had nearly enough Shoshanna (and even less Jessa!), but I’m happy to see the show positioning her for a massive collision with the real world. It took three seasons for Hannah to even begin to get her act together, so it’ll be fun/sad to watch someone as naive as Shosh take on the real world. With her future unknown, it’s not surprising that she’d start pining after Ray again, especially since he seems so stable now. If we’re lucky, we’ll end up getting a Shoshanna/Marnie showdown over the heart of Ray, which is the kind of thing that I never would have imagined happening a few episodes ago.

Britt: Any last thoughts on this week’s episode? Personally, I’d be totally into watching ‘Real Housewives of Prague.’

Allie: That line KILLED me! Ha! I agree with Jacob — I hope we get a little more Jessa soon. Her working in a children’s clothing store is perfect for one-off jokes, but I want to dive in deeper to where she is at right now. I also kind of want Adam to blow up as an actor and see what that kind of success (and the attention that could come with it) would mean for him and his relationship with Hannah.

Jacob: I’m dreading watching everyone screw up again. I don’t want Hannah to screw up this job. I want Adam to actually get cast in something. I want Shoshanna to let go of Ray and blaze a new path. I want Ray and Marnie to actually work because those two need something good in their lives. I want Jessa to actually have lines! I’ve found myself so hugely invested in these people being relatively stable and happy that I’m not looking forward to all of it crumbling in the next few episodes. Because we know that’s going to happen. There was enough lingering dread underneath this otherwise very funny episode to suggest that tough times are ahead in the final stretch of the season.

Britt: I’d like to thank Allie and Jacob for dropping in to chat this week, and be sure to come back next week when we return for another installment of ‘Girls’ Talk with the all-new episode, “Beach House.”

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