Girls, Season 4, Episode 3: “Female Author”
Hello readers and welcome to another recap of Girls! Did you guys have a good week? Did you get into any shenanigans? This is my second year of Dunham-capping and just in case you were wondering, I am very much not a stuffy adult yet (and hopefully never will be). How do I know this? Well, because while I have a full-time day job that doesn’t involve swearing and discussing daleks, outside of that job I am basically a thirteen-year old boy. “But Elena, wouldn’t you be a thirteen year old girl?” I would not, readers, because I don’t think thirteen-year old girls would wrap her friend’s presents in the most awkward Playgirl magazine pinups money could buy (this is primarily because at that age girls are still terrified and confused as to what’s going on with peens).
Anywhoo, now that I’ve confirmed my cred for reviewing a show about adult women trying to catch up with society’s expectations about their maturity, let’s get on with the recap!
This week’s episode starts with a skype session between Hannah and Jessa, the latter doing some home-made exercises the likes of which I only saw advertised in the trailer for The Love Guru. While Jessa does… that, Hannah brags about making brownies from “scratch” which means she used Sara Lee mix and added an egg to the powder while internally creating a monologue about how she is basically Mario Batali in pleated short-er-alls. Unimpressed by Hannah’s culinary prowess, Jessa takes off her panties and brings the conversation back to her desire for an Amish bonnet (the perfect accessory to go with her never-ending store of sad kimonos).
Hannah points out that people in Iowa are Mennonite and not Amish. As a former rural Ohio resident, I can confirm that there is in fact a difference between the two folks. However, neither religion is cool with witches. I learned this fact the hard way after recommending Sabrina the Teenage Witch to my Mennonite friend and being subsequently accused of trying to recruit the girl into worshipping warlocks (true traumatizing story about twelve-year-old Elena).
While Hannah is stifled by the leisure time she has in the less-than-bustling town, Elijah appears to be acclimating to Iowa brilliantly, making friends with poets and spouting words like “chatbook” and “Raffi” (I’m assuming not the Canadian-Armenian children’s musician).
Back in New York, poor ‘ol Marnie tries to convince Ray that Desi truly cares about her because he puts his hand on her butt while they wait in line at Starbucks. Oh honey… oh sweetie no.
Ray, being secretly enamored with Marnie despite the fact that he ended their friends-with-benefits situation last season, acts as the voice of reason in the scene. Clearly as long as Douche Lord is with Clementine, Marnie is not Desi’s priority. Ray points out that by having a girlfriend and a mistress, Douche Lord is having his cake and eating it too (“cake” here in the Rihanna sense, meaning vag).
cake cake cake cake cake cake
Being the smart man that he is, Ray points out that the right guy will be the right guy because he actually picks you. Prince Charming won’t need to be convinced and begged upon to choose you, ladies (and gents). This burst of honesty, of course, makes Ray seem attractive, and he and Marnie get it on amongst some used electrical equipment.
This scene was one of my favourites in the episode primarily because it displayed one of the qualities that makes Girls so special: in just a few minutes, the writers are able to stir inside the audience very powerful, yet very diametric emotions. On one hand, Marnie is repulsive in her delusion. On the other hand, however, her lovesickeness is incredibly sympathetic. While not all of us have fallen for someone in a relationship, everyone has knowingly smothered their voice of reason and tried to ignore its muffled advice. “Oh what’s that? It sounds like you’re screaming that he’s emotionally unavailable, but I can’t be sure so I’m going to focus on the way he pushed my hair back the other day.” We’re all objectively idiots sometimes, and the scene was brilliant in the way it invited you to think about your own actions as well as Marnie’s.
Somewhere downtown, Shosh is interviewing for a junior buyer position at Anne Taylor Loft. Unsurprisingly, the thought of creating the company’s “cardigan story” doesn’t seem that appealing and she promptly turns down the job as soon as it is offered to her. Confusing ass-hattery for candor, Shoshanna tells the interviewer that she was only using the interview as a “practice run” for a job she actually gives a shit about. Shoshanna, that is the equivalent of sleeping with someone and then telling them that you were only using them for their body while they’re pulling on their underwear at the edge of your bed; you should know better. Despite this good interview, methinks Sosh is overly estimating her appeal as an employee and underestimating how tough the job market is. I predict our gal is going to be in for a very rude awakening.
The next day, Marnie and Desi play their music for a group of record company newbies who unfortunately have no power to do anything of value. Things get hella awkward when one of the underlings reads the two singers’ sexual vibe and naturally assumes the two are together. Things get even more awkward when Douche Lord goes to great lengths to make it clear he isn’t dating Marnie… even though he was rubbing her back during the meeting like a sexually frustrated masseuse.
After the meeting, Douche Lord is all “oh em gee you’re so cray, why are you all upset about me talking in great detail about my great consultant girlfriend in front of you with complete disregard for your feelings?” At some point during their argument Douche Lord cheesily calls Marnie “bella” and I have never wanted to punch someone more in the face. Life tip: if you’re not Edward from Twilight and you are not Italian please never call a woman this. Marnie then awesomely tells Desi she’s tired of being his mistress and calls out his bullshit when he tries to blame “society” for her anger. I also love that she tells him that warning someone you’re an asshole does not make it okay for you to continue to be an asshole. Advance warning is in fact worse because you’re admitting that you know what you’re doing is hurtful, but you do it anyway.
At AA, we find out what Adam and Hannah are still together but are only talking once a month. How emotionally healthy! Also he’s seeing a lot of an unnamed woman, which only strengthens my belief that he’s found another damaged lady to fill Hannah’s place. Jessa is also there and surprise surprise, she’s playing god with other people’s lives by leading on a crack-addicted young-un. God, everyone in this episode was an asshole.
After the session, Jessa decides to pee in the street like an animal and gets huffy when a police officer gives her a ticket. Being an immature idiot, Jessa rips up the ticket in front of the officers instead of 1) giving the cops a fake name or 2) “losing” the ticket like the rest of civilized society. Adam somehow gets sucked into Jessa’s whirlwind of shit and the both of them are arrested.
Luckily Ray bails the cretins out and gives them a much-needed lecture about idiocy. When Jessa tries to joke the incident off, Adam angrily points out that Jessa is sober and self-aware and no longer has an excuse for her irresponsible actions. Shocked, Jessa begs for Adam to not abandon her and be her friend. This might be the first time in the series that Jessa actually asks for help instead of just manipulating people into helping her while she tries to keep up a charade of strength. Growth, I guess?
Oh dear god I hope these two don’t hook up.
maybe the most elegant squat and pee shot I’ve ever seen
Back in Iowa, Hannah arrives at the poet party and witnesses Elijah’s new hobby of photographing emaciated artists. When Hannah starts complaining about her colleagues making her feel uncomfortable, Elijah suggests (much like Shoshanna last season in “Beach House”) that the problem might be Hannah herself.
“It’s just you. You’re uncomfortable in your own skin and you think it’s everybody else’s problem.”
Upset, Hannah shifts the conversation into a talk about art and purpose, confessing her distress about not feeling the urge to write despite identifying as a writer. Shouldn’t she want to create? Elijah is much more pragmatic in his response, pointing out that being an artist doesn’t have to be a defining personality trait, but can instead be just a job that you have to will yourself to do.
Meeting up with her workshop colleagues, Hannah is frustrated by everyone’s condescension of popular writing and takes the criticism as a direct indictment of her own writing style. When a fellow writer accuses her of taking their comments too personally, Hannah starts insulting the group members one by one in order to show how hurtful it is to use someone’s work as a way to pigeon-hole them. Naturally, the group is not receptive to Hannah’s commentary and she is quickly dismissed as the “Lindsay Lohan” of the program.
I found myself wrestling with how I felt about this scene. While Hannah’s jabs were funny, the whole exercise felt like a retread of the series’ growing list of explosive confession moments. Last season had not just one but two of these scenes: one with Shoshanna in “Beach House” and one with Hannah imploding at GQ. This type of confrontation has been done, and the repetitiveness is starting to outweigh any wit the writers infuse their characters with. Problematically, we also don’t know whether Hannah is in the right or wrong here because the secondary characters are so thinly built. In the GQ fight, we understood that Hannah was self-sabotaging because we spent several episodes getting to know the people at the magazine. Contrastingly, the Iowans here are caricatures, making it hard for us to know whether Hannah is truly a victim of their unfair judgment.
Having her bike stolen once again (despite the double locks put on her bike), Hannah goes home disgruntled in an Mennonite buggy.
Overall opinion: This episode was an odd one for me.
I loved Marnie’s storyline this week, particularly how she took control of the situation with Desi and authoritatively told him what she wanted from the relationship. In the past Marnie was unsure about her feelings and waffled about the men in her life (oh the Charlie years). Hooray for growth!
Jessa’s storyline on the other hand was a big ‘ol mess. Despite being billed as a main character for four seasons, Jessa very much feels like peripheral comic relief. While the other three women have each gotten their moment to shine emotionally, the British bombshell is still a mystery wrapped in an enigma, enveloped in a dirty kimono. Who is Jessa? I sure as hell don’t know, because she’s a flippant little asswipe who puts on a show for everyone, including the audience. And don’t even get me started on Adam being Jessa’s new Yoda. Why on earth would we introduce this new friendship when we spent several episodes last season building up her relationship with Beady with no payoff? This whole character is a hot mess.
The under-writing also affected Hannah here. While her conversations with Elijah about being an artist were fascinating, the episode for me was derailed once Hannah confronted her shallowly written colleagues. Who the hell are these people? Am I supposed to hate them for being pretentious and insecure or am I supposed to laugh along with them when Hannah criticizes them? I don’t have a clue as to how I’m supposed to feel about them and this is a big problem.
Adam: “Do you think it’s fine if I throw out all of Hannah’s refrigerator magnets?” / Jessa: “This whole thing is why I hate relationships between white people.”
Hannah: “I’m really not feeling good. I think I have mono.” / Elijah: “For the fifth time?”
Hannah: “For example, look at Jeffrey. What a little rich whiney white guy. Thinks he’s Updike, thinks it’s a revolution that he hates his parents. You probably only have one ball.” / Jeffrey:“I have two balls, thank you.”
Hannah: “Your whole story was just a winky eyed emoji followed by a poop emoji.”