‘Girls’ Talk: “One Man’s Trash”
We're joined by another critic this week to talk about the latest installment of 'Girls.' In "One Man's Trash," Hannah shacks up with a 42 year old on the verge of divorce who seems to have everything, but he's just as lonely and lost as she is.
ScreenCrush editor Britt Hayes is joined this week by Sam Zimmerman to discuss the latest episode of 'Girls.' Sam is the managing editor for Fangoria.com and you can tweet him @samdzimmerman. You can tweet Britt @MissBrittHayes.
Britt: This week's episode is much more dramatic than the ones we've gotten in recent weeks, but I think 'Girls' is sometimes best when it's operating within this tone. Before we get into the very Hannah-centric half hour, let's talk about Ray's little blow-up at Grumpy's, which I think is the culmination of his 33 years of procrastinating and his recent time with Shoshanna, who is encouraging him to try harder -- but for someone like Ray, I think that encouragement is just making him feel like more of a loser. Sam, you're a gentleman, so tell me how you're feeling about Ray.
Sam: I'm glad Ray got his "I'm a loser moment" in the Bedford station because it did a bit towards opening up a character who I haven't been able to much tolerate since day one, but his tirade in Grumpy's was insufferable to watch. Charlie and Ray are great portraits of young man-children with little moxie and sh-- ton of nerve in their actions. I'm sure Ray is frustrated, but that was terrible to watch.
Britt: You may be the first person on 'Girls' Talk to dislike Ray. Why is that? Do you not feel empathy for him?
Sam: I think Ray, much like plenty of the Brooklyn barista sort, is full of an aloofness that I find tough to tolerate. He (the character, I'm not railing on Alex Karpovsky) has an attitude like everyone around him should appreciate his bluntness, but in fact he's mainly rude and enjoys feeling superior. Even his "you text me and I get annoyed" concession that he likes Shosanna felt, to me, like he was saying he'll deign to be with her. Despite his "knowing better" or her antics, he likes her. Shosanna is actually the more genuine and honest character that he purports to be.
Britt: I agree. I think she has a positive influence on him because he's been at his best when he's with her -- I'm thinking specifically of the two of them in bed talking about pig skin and summer camp. Even I feel empathy for Ray, though. I think guys can be even tougher on themselves about finding their place and vocation in the world. It's been ingrained in our cultural consciousness that men should be strong and able to provide (for themselves or within a relationship), and we so often see women, especially on this show, who are lost and trying to figure their lives out -- it's nice to see Ray feeling equally lost, particularly since he's the oldest. I'm not sure if I empathize with him more because I've dated men like him or because I genuinely understand the concept of beating yourself up over an inability to find purpose. Crummy attitude aside, can you not relate?
Sam: I can totally relate. Everyone's felt stumped, or lost, or frustrated. That doesn't change, for me, that as a scene his exchange in Grumpy's was wrong-headed and particularly grating to watch as he took out his own sh-- on baby face Wilson. How characteristic of Ray do you think it was, versus how much of it was needed as a transition to get Hannah to Joshua's house?
Britt: I think it was a little out there, even for Ray, but we did see glimpses of this sort of attitude from him last season and most of that has been forgotten this season in the service of getting him together with Shoshanna. But it was also a pretty great way to introduce Joshua, by thrusting him into the world of these characters and allowing us to see who he is without much explanation.
Speaking of Patrick Wilson... As a friend pointed out, Wilson shows up in an episode that's basically like the kind of movie we'd see Patrick Wilson in. He's a lonely 42-year-old doctor, separated from his wife and living in a beautiful brownstone all by his lonesome when Hannah shows up with all her baggage (or garbage, whichever). What I love about this episode is the way it contrasts someone like Hannah, who is 24, lost, and lonely against someone who is 42, lost, and lonely. The only difference between them is age and his lack of pretense about his situation, though you might argue he's just as delusional as Hannah and her friends for keeping her around for two days to play house.
Sam: They're both pretty delusional about it and you know that the second he asks her to stay after a day of fun. What's interesting about this episode is it plays like a bit of a horror movie (maybe it doesn't, but that's how I read those very deliberate, slow zooms while Hannah ate fruit and Wilson read the newspaper). It would've been a surprise if the episode ended with some hope for Hannah and Wilson, but it also wouldn't have been honest. So, mainly, the episode played like impending doom, encapsulated. When you spend an intense amount of time with someone, the development of a relationship is sped up, which is why Ray and Shosanna can say they love each other, even if it seems early -- intense interaction, intense feelings. Hannah enjoys the comfort Joshua provides, and her worldview of being young and free and what that can lead to is shifted. Maybe she wants home/family/security, but it's also a hyper-reality where she gets both the bliss and the emotional distance of it in a crash course. No one was going to win that game and yes Patrick Wilson was simultaneously a perfect, yet boring choice to play it. Dunham is why a story like this, which gets played out in many films and series (much like 'Tiny Furniture') can work.
Britt: Like you pointed out, their relationship is condensed down to a couple of days. I love how we watch them honeymoon it with all the sex, and skirt revealing too much about themselves for fear of scaring the other person away, and then finally Hannah reveals her true self. What's so awesome to me about the bedroom scene is the way we see the real Hannah for just a moment when she's crying because she realizes that she does want to be happy, even though she's sort of missing the point because Joshua is not happy, even if he has a nice house and a career and a killer piano. But she has a moment -- just a moment -- where she realizes that she's been making herself miserable on purpose, and while those experiences might be great fodder for her stories, they come at the expense of her emotions.
But then she goes right back to posturing again, and while she's acting as though she's just explaining how and why she is the way she is, it's really this pretentious bit that seems rehearsed, comparing herself to Fiona Apple and almost bragging about how she lets herself feel and experience too much. She's created this mythology for herself.
Sam: Which is what you do in your youth. Self-mythology lends to stories you tell your kids over and over about the stupid sh-- you were forever doing. With Hannah's coke adventure and the idea of writing about it, the series is doing a great job of spotlighting the idea that everyone's self-mythology is online now via blogs, Instagram and personal, blunt essays. This is off topic of this episode, but does that create a one-upmanship of having to feel everything all at once? Jessa's bit in the last episode about 30 being her 50 was telling, and a bit sad.
Britt: I think there definitely exists a voracity these days where young people are scavenging for more experience, more feeling, more conflict -- they want to feel important, and I think it's a generational thing. Every generation has contributed something meaningful (hippies spreading peace in the 60s, the "Me" generation in the 70s and the birth of the lower middle-class, Wall Street in the 80s, and the Internet/grunge in the 90s), but Millennials are the consumer generation -- they devour everything that was handed down to them and give little back. They're more privileged and thus more free to do things like Hannah and Jessa and Marnie do (I exclude Shoshanna because she has it more together than her friends, who are startlingly older than her) -- they try on different life-hats, trying to see what fits best. They're very tourist-y with little concern for how their actions affect others on their quest for self-fulfillment.
Sam: I'm curious to see how Shoshanna's relationship with Ray develops and as she hits 22/23, if she falls into the same kind of wandering. It's easy to be uptight and think you have it together at 20/21, only to have that upended, much like Hannah was in "One Man's Trash." I also would like to see a version of this episode with Marnie.
Britt: I'd love to see a version of this episode with each of the women and their idea of a perfect grown-up, but I think we've been seeing that already. Marnie thinks Booth Jonathan is the kind of guy who has it together with his creativity and his notoriety, and Jessa thought Thomas John was a real grown-up, too. I think it even extends a bit to Shoshanna and Ray, but that facade is quickly crumbling as she realizes his maturity and confidence are not where they should be for his age.
But what if each of them had been holed up with Joshua for two days? What do you think each of them would have done in that situation?
Sam: I think you're right about having seen it already. They each get their opposite/future view. Marnie, or where she'll end up is probably most like Joshua, so she gets the adult artist and Jessa gets her yuppie guy. Is this the season of stepping stones? Is Booth Jonathan's real name Jonathan Booth?
Britt: I guarantee you his real name is Jonathan Booth.