Girls: Iowa Writers Workshop

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I apologize for this late recap of the “Girls” season finale, “Two Plane Rides.” It’s tardy a) because I’ve been busy and b) because I didn’t want to let go of a great season three. Anyway, Shelby and I discuss where this season finale left each character and we look forward to next season.

Alex: Big, big fan of the season three finale. I want to start by talking about Jessa because I couldn’t get enough of her story in “Two Plane Rides.” Last we saw her, she took a supposed job opportunity out from under Marnie’s nose, doing archival work for an artist. This week, it’s quickly revealed that the artists hired Jessa because she thought she could get her drugs, but not in the way you’d think. The artist wants to be assisted in suicide! A dicey situation, especially when she decides she doesn’t want to die, but a phenomenal story line and hell of a cliff hanger. Was this the first time I enjoyed Jessa this season? Yup.

Shelby: The first time, really? Jessa has piqued my interest all season–in fact, I wish we could have seen much more of her. As for the cliffhanger in this episode…we’ve been building for this kind of a moment since we first met Jessa, haven’t we? I feel like at least since Hannah, Shosh, and Adam picked her up from rehab, there’s been a “will-she-or-won’t-she” feel to Jessa’s story, at least in regards to her substance abuse problem. There have been lots of moments when she seems to be cleaning up her act, but for the first time ever, I actually feel like this one is going to stick. Jessa got a glimpse of what her future self will look like if she doesn’t make an honest effort to recover, and it wasn’t glamorous or adventurous in any respect. I don’t believe that even Jessa would want to die as lost and lonely as Beadie seemed to be.

Alex: Yes. I loathed Jessa every time she was in a scene this season. I have so many questions for Lena Dunham about the way the season ended for Jessa. At the top of my list, what kind of genius are you that you came up with the idea to have Jessa help Beadie killer herself? Stroke of genius in the writers’ room.

Shelby: I agree: complete genius. To be completely honest, though, I wasn’t totally happy with the way this season ended. Actually, I should back up. I liked the way the season ended, but I’m a little bit miffed about how we ended up here. I feel like I’ve missed most of what’s been happening in the other girls’ lives because Adam and Hannah’s relationship has hogged a lot of the screen time–too much, in my opinion. Though I felt like all the girls were landing in interesting situations, I wasn’t completely satisfied with their journeys because I didn’t really feel like I’d seen them. I really wish we’d seen more of the other girls this season. 

Alex: Is there an amount of money I can pay to get Shoshanna on screen more? I agree with you there, Shelby. This was almost exclusively Hannah and Adam’s season. These are a few examples of my disconnect… when Ray reminded Shosh that she told him she didn’t want him in her life, I totally forgot that happened. Also, I never felt connected to Marnie’s issues, in the way that I didn’t really have feelings about them. I also felt a little thrown off by the Iowa Writers Workshop thing, but that was a minor reaction. Considering those factors, I still loved this season.

Shelby: I was almost relieved about the Iowa Writers’ Workshop news (although, I agree that it seemed to really come out of left field: we didn’t even know Hannah had applied to grad school). I’m hoping that this means less screen time with Hannah. I’ve enjoyed following her the past few seasons, and it’s not that I necessarily want her to go away, but I do feel that the other girls need some more attention. I wonder if this kind of setup lends itself to episodes that follow only one of the girls at a time, much like one of our favorites from last season–“One Man’s Trash” and what is possibly the best episode of the series: “Free Snacks.” Both of these episodes were dedicated solely to Hannah, and I think that the show is definitely at its best when there’s an intimate focus on one characters experiences. Though I don’t necessary dislike the ensemble episodes, I think it might be interesting to see what adventures the other characters could take us on. Seriously, this season would have been the season to highlight Shosh!

Alex: This episode was Shoshanna’s best performance since “Welcome to Bushwick a.k.a. the Crackcident.” As much of a compliment as that is, I think it’s a bad thing because Shosh needs more episodes like that. How fantastic was her temper tantrum? She just completely destroyed her place, then it all boiled over on Marnie. I thought this scene was terrific. Later, begging for Ray to come back to her, I really felt her pain. Zosia Mamet is an excellent actress. “Girls” needs to give her more slack.

Shelby: So what did we think of Marnie? I can’t lie; I sort of hated her this season, but after thinking about it some more, I decided that Marnie is finally acting much more “real” than she ever has. It’s a bit ugly at times, but I don’t think that what Marnie has endured this season hasn’t been relatable to most viewers. She’s had her heart broken over and over and has been so wrapped up in appearances that I think she forgot who she really was or what she really wanted. And right now, Marnie’s creative talents seem awkward and clunky next to Hannah’s, but what I really never stopped to think about before this season is that Hannah’s known her truth for a long time and has been nurturing her creative spirit–and Marnie hasn’t. I think we should get ready for a lot more awkward, clunky Marnie moments in the future, and I think we should be excited for them.

Alex: Marnie had an interesting season, between Ray, Desi and trying to find her path again. She got so off track with the art thing that anything else almost felt weird. She actually felt most normal this week. Who did Hannah tell first about Iowa? Marnie, and in that moment they resembled the college friends we sort of saw at the beginning of this series. I felt the same way about the Broadway show. “We should come here every night.” I would love if they hung out again. I thought it was great that Hannah and Marnie connected over that. Also, it was fun seeing Hannah and Elijah become closer again after Adam abandoned her. The Iowa deal struck some college-like reactions from these people because they know what that means. I can appreciate that.

Shelby: So Alex, now comes the big question: do you think Hannah will go to Iowa?

Alex: My impression from the last scene of this season was that Hannah is going to Iowa, but I think there are a few schools of thought on this. Systematically, Hannah’s departure would be difficult for “Girls” because the show would lose it’s main character out of New York, unless of course they did a jump around from city to city thing. This season was so heavily reliant on Hannah and Adam’s lives that Hannah leaving could leave a hole. Generally, I think there are a couple ways to work this out. Your way, separate stories for everybody, including Iowa City resident Hannah. Or there could be a situation where Hannah went there for the summer, but returned (in time for season four to begin). Could I see Hannah bringing someone along? Elijah? Maybe. I have a lot of scrambled thoughts about this. Where do you see it?

Shelby: I think having Hannah return for the summer after a year in Iowa makes the most sense, but I have to confess that I really like the idea of, for at least part of the season, having Hannah out of the picture. I want her to find happiness in her craft, and possibly in another person who isn’t Adam. Of the girls, she’s probably the one who is closest to knowing and living her truth, so in a lot of ways, although her story isn’t finished, it’s at least reached a point where it might plateau. And Lena has said that she might like to cut back on the acting and get back into what she loves most–which is writing and directing. This finale has definitely lent itself to that kind of a cutback. I wouldn’t be surprised to see none of Hannah next season, and I also wouldn’t be surprised to see only Hannah next season. I do like your idea of Elijah tagging along, though. The show just isn’t the same without him.

Alex: I read that about Lena, too, but what I understood of it is that she wasn’t necessarily talking about disappearing from “Girls”; rather, she doesn’t have a desire to be a huge film and television star after her show. For example, she and Jenni Konner are developing “All Dressed Up and Everywhere To Go” for HBO, a series about the life of a personal shopper. I think “Girls” would seriously struggle with a Hannah-less season four; granted, I think it’s highly unlikely, but worth discussing. If the plans include shaving Lena’s scenes, then the writers need to look into bulking up Shoshanna’s. I’m intoxicated by her and her troubles. As for Hannah, I want to see her in Iowa, at least for part of the fourth season, but I feel like she’s the kind of girl who would cut the program short because she misses Adam. Or, would Adam drop Broadway for Iowa City? I changed my mind: Hannah should take Laird and Caroline along because they are destined to be farm-owners, not city people. But yes, Elijah makes everything better.

Shelby: Oh my god! We didn’t even talk about how ridiculous Laird and Caroline are!! So much crazy in one relationship.

Alex: I was speechless. That was definitely one of the most unexpected things this season.

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We didn’t complete an “I Saw You” review, but here are some of our notes on the episode.

Alex: Part of me figured Hannah would be the one to find out about Ray and Marnie first, but not in the way she did, barging into Ray’s room like that. I’m sure you, like me, caught what Hannah said before she opened the door — something about how she needs/deserves (or is supposed) to know who Ray’s sleeping with. Hannah is not in her right mind, if she thinks she has the backstage pass to life. It doesn’t surprise me, though.

Shelby: We all know Girls is infamous for its somewhat shocking sex scenes, but none surprised me more than the one that opened this episode. The last thing I truly expected to see was Hannah and Adam in bed together after the events of last week’s episode. And by the end of this episode, I wasn’t shocked at all that Hannah would assume omnipresence in everyone else’s sex life because Hannah is totally the kind of person who wants to thwart anyone from having what she wants and can’t have. Her relationship with Adam is teetering on a tight wire, and despite her many attempts to keep it balanced and upright, falling seems inevitable. This sort of behavior is reminiscent of her bashing of Tally Shiffron in Season 1, all because Tally was enjoying the kind of lifestyle Hannah wanted to have.

Alex: That’s a really good diagnosis of what happened. Hannah’s putting herself in a dangerous place by allowing Adam to basically hump and dump her because he made it clear he doesn’t have time for her. I thought the Ray-Adam roommate dynamic was really interesting, and we should probably talk about it, but this episode was especially focused on Marnie. She just seems to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, or saying the wrong thing. Whereas she thinks she’s being nice to the photographer at the gallery, Jessa walks in and basically steals her dream job. You can’t blame Jessa, but how ironic is Marnie telling her “This isn’t a good time” when she walked in?

Shelby: I think Marnie’s biggest problem is trying to control too many aspects of her life and refusing to let anything happen on its own, or–in the example of the what happened in the studio–taking advantage of opportune moments.  She’s so focused on decorum and propriety that nearly all of her human interactions are feigned or forced. She fails to make any real connections; it’s why Charlie didn’t work out, it’s why she didn’t pick up on the fact that Desi had a girlfriend, and it’s why she hasn’t been successful in her professional pursuits.

Alex: She delivered one of the best two lines of the episode, “He made me.” That said, she rushed back to Ray because she knew that was something she could control. He will never turn her down as long as she’s throwing herself at him. Jessa is another interesting character this week. I liked the scene where she’s dancing off her urges for drugs. Even in stumbling on a job, she doesn’t seem to be in good shape.

Shelby: I laughed so hard when Marnie spit out that line. Clearly, Marnie has been the instigator of that relationship for its duration, not Ray. She can’t cope with how it makes her seem, though, to be seen with Ray. She really needs to get over her judgmental nature because, in my opinion, she and Ray work really well. She is at her most confident with him, and she’s her honest self. Around everyone else, she’s pretending. I’ve always been really fascinated with Jessa’s sense of agency. It seems like hers comes naturally, that she’s adventurous and therefore better and seeing and seizing opportunities. At the same time, she never really plans to have things happen to her, they just do. And the decisions she makes are never firm–she goes back and forth on her commitments frequently (e.g. jobs, marriage, sobriety).

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