“I f***ing hate grown-ups”
Incidentally, one would think a twenty-something year old young woman out of college would consider herself some kind of an adult; however, this is no regular young woman. This is Hannah, who after the first season of the HBO comedy series by Lena Dunham and Judd Apatow, presented herself as smart yet witless, ambitious yet lazy, and someone who is perfectly capable of making wise decisions, yet simply doesn’t. The much anticipated second season of Girls premieres with a striking new confidence in its madness. “It’s About Time” is a well-established reintroduction to this world of twenty-something year old debauchery, which reminds us that individuals don’t grow up like they use to anymore, especially where one’s twenties are concerned. Not a kid, but not yet an adult. What kind of ridiculous crap can a person stuck in the middle of those two evils come by?
The first half of this graceful premiere is nearly breathless and admittedly a bit clunky and rushed, going from scene to scene, character to character attempting to briefly catch up with everyone that the series established in its first controversial season. Things have escalated since we last left the girls and where we are now opens up whole new narratives. Hannah is dating a handsome young black guy named Sandy (Donald Glover) who seems worlds more “normal” than Adam could ever be, and surprisingly Hannah is trying to make this relationship a healthy, “adult” one. All the while she tends to an injured and conflicted Adam, after the accident during Jessa’s wedding. Marnie is fired from her art gallery job due to downsizing, Jessa is supposedly off on her honeymoon with Thomas John (Chris O‘Dowd), and we find that Shoshanna is opening her world up to whole new possibilities after what viewers can assume to have been a messy miscommunication with the rude and blunt voice of reason, Ray. It doesn’t take long for the girls’ shenanigans of awkward social graces and even more awkward sexcapades to break out at Hannah’s disastrous, yet revealing housewarming party.
Hannah and gay ex-boyfriend, Elijah (Andrew Rannells) have indeed become roommates with one another and are now stuck together, in a way. The entire time these two individuals are together, they both seem to be tethered to this façade that they are actually great roommates. I honestly don't think Hannah and Elijah are enjoying each other as much as they think they are. In fact, most of this installment seems to feature these twenty-something year old people living façades of happiness, when most of them couldn’t be more miserable with their current situation. The only ones who are overtly honest about their respective situations are Shoshanna and Adam, and they get shut down. But I digress, Hannah wavers between Adam, Elijah, and new boyfriend, Sandy trying to blanket her very real concerns. Hannah’s façade of a real, healthy relationship with Sandy, her weird breakup with Adam, and her playing house with Elijah. It’s very real in the way that I even know people my age that do the same thing, putting themselves in superficial friendships and relationships just to feel like they are progressing as adults, but are truly lying stagnant. Which is actually rather depressing.
Hannah’s situation with Adam only escalates and gets more confusing when Adam admits that he is truly in love with Hannah, in his own weird Adam way. This odd confession of love is only met with a repulsion by Hannah mostly because she doesn’t want to be responsible for nurturing someone else’s feelings, especially when she isn’t even aware of her own feelings about anything. She can’t even tell of her real feelings for Elijah, Marnie or Sandy. All looks well on the outside, yet there is a real hurt and confusion that is not being addressed, which is why Hannah’s attempts to be an adult in this episode only fail. She doesn’t do the adult thing and confront these confusions and hurt feelings head on, but rather attempts to sweep it under an already full rug. “I’m an individual. And I feel how I feel when I feel it!” Hannah is once again only thinking of herself, and that’s not exactly ideal in a “real adult relationship”. Even when Hannah does something so simple as kick Elijah’s obnoxiously drunk boyfriend, George, out of their housewarming party, she is essentially trying to cloak this mean thing with a layer of sweetness. But George can see right through it. Even when drunk.
Marnie turns into a tragic little mess right from the beginning. After being fired, she has lunch with her mother, perfectly portrayed by Rita Wilson. However, as Marnie attempts to find some comfort in her parent, all her mother can do is complain about not being treated like one of her daughter’s friends and critique her body features. We now see where Marnie gets her self-absorption and judgmental arrogance from. Marnie essentially spends the entire episode trying to find someone who will take pity on her. From Hannah to ex-boyfriend, Charlie and even Elijah. Most of which turn out to be some of the most awkward and depressing scenes of the premiere. Marnie catches up on Charlie and his current girlfriend’s relationship, which has turned into another disaster that is wrapped into a façade as Charlie explains the many mundane facets of their “adult” relationship. Something that might have made Marnie feel a bit better about her current situation. Finding someone else who is down in the dumps does wonders for a depressed wretch.
It only gets worse when Marnie and Elijah go from singing a duet together to engaging in some revealing conversation, and then having some of the most awkward sex that I’ve missed since Season 1. An awkward sex scene that reveals so much about Marnie and Elijah in a matter of minutes, even as they continue to cloak their real feelings and who they really are. It’s a bit sad that these twenty-somethings are so hung up on maintaining these facades that they will even have sex with one another to prove it to themselves. Marnie and Elijah are on a very raw level in this scene, and Marnie even lets Elijah know that whatever façade he’s putting up isn’t worth it. But they both go back to their pretty little facades when its all said and done. But Marnie’s search for comfort leads her to Charlie’s apartment, desperate for someone to cuddle with. Marnie’s problem is her inability to take responsibility for her own stuff and let go. After all, she is the most “serious” of the group. And Elijah’s confused sexuality will only become more muddled from here on out.
Shoshanna and Ray apparently have been wavering in a way that leaves Shoshanna ready to prove herself as a capable woman that doesn’t need a guy who has failed to appreciate her. I think Shoshanna and Ray are good for each other. They’re so different and two of the few upfront people in the series, and their scenes in the premiere are refreshing amongst all the other facades running amok at Hannah and Elijah’s housewarming party. Ray is the crass voice of reason, where as Shoshanna helms a bubbly optimism and valley girl eccentricities. Ray should honestly despise everything about Shoshanna; however, I think his infatuation with her has to do with how real she is about herself. She doesn’t hide behind facades when they are together and she doesn‘t apologize for who she is. Ray appreciates the “real”, but hates the conventions of a pretty little façade that our young, hip generation full of Emojies and stupid acronyms hides behind. We aren’t real with each other anymore, which is why it makes it so hard for us to communicate and even act like adults. We don’t know each other, and then we become so self-interested that we loose sight of the other person. This destructive generational cycle continues and we think we’re progressing and growing up, but we’re not. Not really. We can even be like Jessa and choose to marry someone on an impulse and think we’re adults now, even though we don’t really know the other person at all. Not even their address. We just end up doing the same old things we use to do, just in a slightly different way, like Hannah dropping over her Sandy's place for some stupid reason, only to have kinky sex. Yeah, these girls have changed a lot, but only mature one tiny iota at a time.
This premiere slaps us with a classic case of “the more things change, the more they stay the same”. However, Dunham does it in a way that is fresh, humorous and occasionally tragic as we look into the world of these misguided girls who are striving to become adults in all the wrong ways. Lena Dunham continues to approach the many painful truths of her and my generation with a tragically humorous filter that some may not be able to realize. It’s honest and raw, and Dunham surely doesn’t mind being vulnerable in front of the camera, emotionally or physically, which I for one think is a fantastic thing for women who find that their bodies aren’t held up to an unrealistic quality of what is usually displayed in Hollywood.
I understand that there are loud and proud Dunham and Girls haters out there that believe with a religious conviction that the series is elitist, racist, misogynistic, crass, unwarrantedly narcissistic, a product of nepotism and downright vulgar. Unfortunately there are also those who fail to look beyond the face value of what is happening on screen, when Dunham is ultimately attempting to display so much more about a group of people in a certain generation. Well, those individuals I think are missing out on the essential observations the series makes in every innovative, provocative episode: The contradictions of a generation trying their darndest to discover who they are and become adults in a new area that isn’t so nice to twenty-somethings. It’s bittersweet--salty and sweet, which is a perfect contradiction for those stuck in the in-between of being a child and an adult. Plus, Dunham just won two Golden Globes for Best Comedy Series and Best Actress in a Comedy Series, so…she‘s doing something right. For someone in her twenties! And Shoshanna singing “Beautiful Girls” is worthy of a Golden Globe alone. “It’s About Time” gets 4 out of 5 stars!
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© Patrick Broadnax 2013