It’s time to consider the inevitable friction between Hannah and Adam and the physical friction between Ray and Marnie’s naked bodies. Enter Alex and Shelby.
Alex: This is so weird, Shelby, because right before I sat down to write this email, I found out Philip Seymour Hoffman died. He was one of my favorite actors. His role as Lester Bangs in “Almost Famous” completely changed my life; in fact, the movie as a whole did. It’s my favorite film of all time. It’s weird, because I feel like a part of my creative spirit guide is gone. This is, of course, similar to how Hannah feels, sinking deeper into herself in “Only Child.” It turns out that David owned more of Hannah than she knew, but he was the person who opened the door and let her into the party, figuratively speaking. Now, she’s stuck, but I’m happy this grieving process is over. I thought her uncomfortable antics at David’s visitation were funny, but a little silly. Society has unspoken rules about these things and, in general, you table the drama for another day even if the topic is something you haven’t stopped thinking about for a week.
Shelby: First off, I am deeply saddened by Hoffman’s death. He didn’t necessarily affect me in the same way he’s clearly been an influence in your life, but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed his work and will really miss him. I agree with you that what Hannah seems to be going through in this episode are definitely some weird after-effects of having lost someone who had a very impact on your life, but you actually knew very little about. I thought it was interesting watching Hannah interact with the other attendees at the funeral, especially David’s wife. Even though she thought herself close to David, she still had no real grasp on his life outside her own interactions with him as an editor.
Alex: This being the fifth episode, meaning we’re over one-third of the way done, sets Hannah on her usual path to loneliness it seems. Like season two, it’s this book deal that she still can’t overcome. At first, it was a deadline and the threat of being sued that caused her so much stress and now it’s the fact that she’s being offered something so much better but is contractually married to the other company. Her season two sadness triggered very emotional responses to things, like her angry voicemail for Jessa for example. In “Only Child,” all of Hannah’s locked up stress leads to her eventual outburst against Caroline. Not unrelated, the episode leaves us with the sense that kicking her out of the apartment is going to cause friction in Hannah and Adam’s relationship, something you predicted from the thematic first shot of the season premiere.
Shelby: I also thought it was interesting that Hannah turned to alcohol in her time of disparity, given both Adam’s history with the substance and her own admission in season one that “she doesn’t drink well.” I’m curious to see if this behavior might continue, because I can most assuredly see it causing a rift in her relationship with Adam, especially given now that she’s driven Caroline away just after she forced the siblings to make amends.
Alex: An interesting note: this is the last episode Gabby Hoffman is credited for on IMDB. Just an observation, but I want to make sure Marnie gets some blog time. Her dramatic turn in this episode couldn’t have been more predictable. As soon as she showed up at Ray’s door, I knew what was up. First Elijah, now Ray. Neither guy is necessarily desirable — one is gay, one just rented his first apartment. I’m unhappy that Lena Dunham appears to be taking Marnie down the same path as last season, though she fooled around with Elijah sooner in season two. Her formula is sleep with a guy that one of your friends has a conflicted relationship with and keep it a secret.
Shelby: Well, I think the thing to note about Marnie is that she has been so unwilling to admit that she’s been at fault for anything up to this episode, and as long as she keeps up that act, she’s bound to keep repeating her actions. It started in season two, but it’s carried over to this season as well. She’s really struggling on her own, and she’s grasping for whatever companionship she can get–first Elijah, then Booth Jonathan, the kitten, and now Ray. Of course her actions are predictable–the girl is LONELY. And to be honest, I think the secrecy has less to do with saving friends from getting hurt and more to do with keeping her struggles under wraps. God forbid anyone see her struggle. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Marnie pull her own version of a Q-tip manuever before the season finale. No one can keep that kind of act up forever.
Alex: Maybe she and Hannah will bond this season over their horribly unfortunate lives, but it just made me feel bad for Shoshanna. It was kind of the perfect combination of things that brought Marnie and Ray together, though. You say Marnie is lonely. I match that with Ray. His boys on the basketball court aren’t fulfilling all of his needs and, in some respect, he’s kind of spiraling out of control from losing Shosh like Marnie is from losing Charlie.
Shelby: You know, the show is called Girls, and is supposed to be about girls, but Ray is getting quite a bit of attention this season, which I find compelling. I wonder if it’s a ploy to gain a male audience or if there’s something Lena is going somewhere deeper with his character. Unlike the experience with Elijah, I get the sense that this isn’t the last we’ll see of Marnie and Ray bumping uglies.
Alex: What’s happening is, Alex Karpovsky is carrying the male side of the show because Charlie is gone and Adam pretty much does whatever Hannah wants. There aren’t great stories to be written about men in “Girls.” I’m glad the show has an actor like Karpovsky to take it all on. He and Shoshanna were a strong secondary story last season and I think it’s helping the show that they have emerged as primary characters because Adam and Jessa sure as hell aren’t doing much with their lives. There’s a nice balance right now between Hannah’s story and Ray’s story and it’s working well.
Shelby: Agreed, and to be honest, I’m not sure I really care about what Adam would be up to were he not a prominent figure in Hannah’s story. Last season when he was with Natalia, I found myself really apathetic about his narrative arc. And when Charlie went yuppie, he became far too distant for me to connect to his place in life. Ray has remained a relatable character throughout the seasons, for perhaps no other reason than this: he’s an overeducated, underemployed person still struggling to come out on top of a major life transition. He’s the only male character who has really been on the same millennial playing field as the female characters on the show.
Alex: I was never happy with the re-emergence of Charlie in Marnie’s life last season. It happened fast enough not to be believable. I agree about Adam last season, too. I heard a theory a few weeks ago about his character. Adam was intended to merely be the boy in Hannah’s life at the beginning of the show, then go on his way; however, viewers liked him so much that Lena kept writing him in. Reasonably, there were a number of times in the first season when Adam could’ve disappeared. Certainly, they could’ve written him off during the Natalia period, although they never made sense as a lasting couple anyway. Ray was always my guy. The end of last season’s Staten Island episode, with him and the dog, was spot on.
Shelby: I want to go on record as the one fan who really wishes that Adam had gone on his merry way. I’ve never thought that Hannah and Adam should end up together. As wonderful as it is to see Hannah happy, I don’t believe he’s her cure-all for all the terrible, awful shit she’s been going through. I’m honestly a little giddy at the thought of the two of them breaking up. And something I just now thought about–was there maybe a twitch from Hannah while she was lying on the couch in the last scene? Is it baaaaaack??
Alex: Without going back to watch it, I think you might be right. It makes sense, though; after all, the stress of her book perpetuated it last season. She had it under control because everything was going smoothly. If there was a twitch, would Hannah be open about it this time?
Shelby: Even if she didn’t twitch, I think Lena did a great job of showing us how easily someone can slip back into such a dark place. What’s happening with Hannah’s book is truly awful–and a clever metaphor for what Hannah has been dealing with since season one–feeling like she’s not in control of her own life. Right now, someone literally has more ownership over her own personal stories than she does, and that is probably the most devastating feeling a person can experience. Not only has her future come to an abrupt halt, her past and present are being held hostage from her.
Alex: The reaction, “Just write another one,” was admittedly similar to what I thought at the time, but Hannah put her whole life in there. I feel her pain when she’s like, “I’ll just spend the next 25 years experiencing things,” because it was her realization that her entire life is all for naught; at least, now. It’s the realization that she was happy and thought her life was going in a more settled down direction with Adam. Now, she feels like somebody pressed the reset button on her life. Nothing’s more frustrating than having to restart a level on a video game, and that’s all life is, right? A video game?
Shelby: Maybe? I don’t know. Video games were banned in my house growing up.
Alex: You should probably see a psychiatrist about that.