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‘Girls’ Talk: “It’s Back”

Girls Its Back Preview Shiri Appleby
HBO

We’re joined by a couple of critics this week to discuss the latest episode of ‘Girls.’ In “It’s Back,” Hannah struggles with OCD, Adam has a “fresh look,” Marnie wants to be a singer, and Shoshanna and Ray are falling apart.

ScreenCrush editor Britt Hayes is joined this week by Kate Erbland and Meredith Borders to discuss this week’s 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. Meredith is the Managing Editor for Badass DigestAlamo Drafthouse, and Fantastic Fest. You can tweet her @xymarla. You can tweet Britt @missbritthayes. 

Britt: So let’s start off this week by talking about Adam, who has finally returned. I know we all love him so much! As much as it pains me to see him on a date with someone else, I did love seeing him at the AA meeting (with Carol Effing Kane!), and it’s obvious that he’s not over Hannah, just like Hannah is realizing she’s not over Adam at all. What did you guys think about Adam and his date this week? Do you want to see Adam and Hannah get back together at this point?

Kate: At this point, I’m just happy that Adam is remaining on the show, even if he’s not with Hannah (for now?), mainly because he seems to be the character who is most interested in actual personal growth and maturation. I loved his date with Shiri “Good Teeth” Appleby, but I cannot imagine that she’ll stick around once Adam shows his true/crazy colors, which is only inevitable. She’s nice, normal, easy to talk to — and while that’s soothing for Adam now, I don’t think that’s what he needs in the long run. But is Hannah what he needs? I don’t think so, but the two of them seem to be unbreakably linked for the time, so while I’m not gagging to see them back together any time soon, I won’t be shocked if it happens.

Meredith: I’d like to see them continue to take some space for a little while. It feels like only this season that Hannah has started defining herself beyond Adam, and it’s been refreshing to see her in a context that has nothing to do with him – and vice versa for Adam. I loved seeing him on a date with someone new, charming and weird with his fresh look, but ultimately, I can’t imagine he and Hannah won’t get back together sooner or later. Either way, I want more Carol Kane.

Britt: And also he apparently taught Hannah how to use soap. I loved his speech about Hannah at AA, though. From his point of view, he never knew the real Hannah, even though she was so persistent and practically demanded to be a part of his life. He always felt as though he didn’t know what she was up to when she wasn’t with him, and he can’t decide if she’s a good girlfriend or a bad one, just like she can’t decide if he’s the best thing ever or the worst. I like this for a couple of reasons: one, the very relatable idea that you know someone when they’re with you and right in front of you, but when they go away, where do they go? Who are they without you? It’s a theme that permeates the episode in various ways. Second, I like that the show is clever to explore the complex feelings regarding the Hannah/Adam relationship — and all relationships this week, which we’ll get to shortly — and by doing so, it sparks similar feelings within us as viewers. We start to wonder if Hannah and Adam are good for and to each other, and we start to question our own desire to see them together.

Kate: Adam’s AA speech was indeed wonderful, and it made me reconsider their relationship from Adam’s point of view. When the show first started and we first got to know Hannah and Adam, Adam just seemed like the worst, but we were relying on Hannah’s viewpoint to come to that conclusion. As we got know him better as an audience, suddenly, it became much easier to understand his actions, especially the kind that just seemed mean or weird to begin with. He taught her to use soap. What? Incredible. I still don’t think that they are good for each other, at least as of this moment, but they are certainly tremendous catalysts of change for the other, which is a very good thing.

Britt: And isn’t that part of a good relationship? Inspiring each other to be better people and grow?

Kate: It is, and that’s why I continue to struggle with them as a couple or even a possible couple. However, I do think they are better apart, even as they still influence each other.

Meredith: I don’t think they’re bad for each other. The couple of episodes last season where they were happy and fully onboard for the relationship is the best we’ve seen of either of them. I just want them to take the space to figure out how to be good for themselves first before they rely on each other to do that for them.

Maybe Hannah forgot to wet the soap first? She was just dry-rubbing herself with a bar of soap.

Kate: I still don’t understand why she didn’t teach him not to outfit his entire apartment with packing pallets. Seriously, what is that about?

Britt: He’s a builder, Kate. It’s the only life he knows.

The title of this week’s episode refers to the return of Hannah’s OCD — we’ve never seen it before, but it was alluded to in episode nine of season one, when she and Marnie were fighting and Marnie referenced Hannah’s need to masturbate eight times a night in her youth. The introduction of her OCD feels a little clumsy, but mental illnesses are not something that come on slowly so you can ease into them; similarly, Hannah’s OCD is, at least by appearances, abrupt. Judging by the way she started acting after ignoring Adam’s phone call, and the sad look on her face during Judy Collins’ performance, I think this OCD might be more inspired by her Adam anxiety than her writer’s anxiety. How do you guys feel about Hannah’s OCD?

Kate: My first reaction to the introduction of Hannah’s OCD was an audible “wait, what?!,” yelled out in my own living room. As you point out, it’s only been alluded to just once — at the time, I honestly thought that Hannah was just having some weird sexual awakening, but reflecting on it does remind that there was a sense of compulsion to it. It does seem unfathomable to me, however, that she’s never mentioned it — Hannah is a whiner and an oversharer, and I find it hard to believe that she’d never bring up something like this. Yet, perhaps she’s so ashamed of it that even she finds it out of bounds, which is sort of more interesting to me than the actual OCD itself. I think that Hannah is under a lot of pressure, but I do think that it’s Adam that has set it off the most.

Meredith: Well, I think a combination of her missing Adam, the stress over her book and maybe even her weekend jaunt with Jessa that ended Jessa-less could have contributed. It did feel abrupt for the show, but again, that’s life. I’m not sure how I feel about it. Of course, Lena Dunham’s suffered from OCD in the past, and I think, as with all mental illness, it’s an important topic to discuss openly to remove any stigma. But I’ll have to see where it goes to know if I think the show’s handled it well. I did love her angry response to Bob Balaban about it being a “classic case.” That felt very real and open, feeling affronted that something so specific and personal would be written off as textbook.

Britt: The theme of this week’s episode seems to be the way that people grow in, out, and because of relationships. It’s something I expressed in my review, but the short version: you can’t anticipate the ways people will react to/because of each other in any relationship, whether platonic or romantic. Every person has their unique set of traits, opinions, and baggage. It’s what makes relationships special and often so heart-breaking. We see how Hannah is doing post-Adam, how Adam is growing post-Hannah, and the Charlie and Marnie story gets extra interesting this week. The sad truth is, Charlie wouldn’t have accomplished so much if Marnie didn’t dump him, a fact he confirms when he says his app was inspired by their break-up. And it’s unfair for Marnie to want him back now, but also, where can I get that app?!

Meredith: I love the idea of that app — I’ve always maintained that we need something like that, or at least a breathalyzer test before we’re allowed to tweet or text certain people. It’s interesting how annoyed Charlie seemed by Marnie’s appearance. He tried to be polite, because he’s Charlie, but he also seemed put out by having to take time out of his cool, busy new job to deal with her. “I just showed up for support.” “For me or from me?” I thought that was the first sign that he is well and truly over Marnie. Old Charlie wouldn’t care which one it was, he just wanted to be near her. Now he’s moved on and he’s ready for her to move on too.

Kate: Charlie is definitely a cool customer now — good for him, actually.

Britt: So… Marnie wants to be a singer? I love how the moment she reveals this to Ray (after Ray gives her advice he should be taking himself) is both a punchline and a really serious moment. But seriously? A singer, Marnie? In the words of Michael Bluth, “Her?”

Kate: She’s not bad, though! And didn’t she say something once about starting a band? Did I imagine that? Why didn’t she ever sing with Ray and Charlie’s band then?

Britt: Could you imagine? Marnie singing in that bad would be mad awkward. And yeah, she did mention wanting to start a band with Elijah in the first episode.

Meredith: I’ve seen some of Allison Williams’ videos on YouTube, so from an actor standpoint it didn’t catch me off guard, but it did seem sudden for the character. But also totally believable, in retrospect. She has a nice voice, she’s beautiful, but she’s also spent most of her life being so responsible and down-to-earth that she’d never bring it up to anyone unless it was forced out of her, because she knows it’s so unlikely she could become successful that way. She did the safe thing and shelved her dream and got a day job, and then that day job turned out not to be so safe.

Britt: Then of course there’s Shoshanna and Ray, cute couple MVPs for life… or for now, anyway. It was only a matter of time before Shosh started sowing some wild oats. I was yelling NO NO NO at my TV a lot last night, but also… yes? I kind of want to see her awkwardly get her game on. Do you guys think this is the beginning of the end of Shosh and Ray?

Kate: I think we’ve been steadily careening towards a massive blowup between the two, and Shosh getting down in a mailroom is as good as any way to start it.

Meredith: She’s 21 and Ray’s the first guy she’s ever slept with, and they’ve been on rocky ground for some time now. Shosh is right about on schedule.

Britt: Exactly! I mean, I don’t want to see them break up or anything because even when they bicker, they are the cutest couple of all time, but Shoshanna is so, so naive and young, and while I think she balances out Ray’s cynicism nicely, there’s no way this is going to work in the long-term.

Is there anything else that really stood out to you guys this week? Maybe a burning desire to see Peter Scolari hold hands with Bob Balaban and walk into a forest of precious tweed?

Kate: I miss Elijah.

Britt: Every damn week.

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