Everyone has that friend who doesn’t take the truth very well. The one who has ideas and thinks they know everything about the world and will inform you about it and explain why they are a capable adult making a "life" for themselves in New York…
The second episode of this season of Girls reminds us that this series is in rare form when it takes a step back to look at itself and the world around it in order to call its characters out on their crap, especially our conflicted main protagonist, Hannah. “I Get Ideas” not only calls our protagonist on her crap, but also makes some equally hilarious and poignant observations about this young generational curse when it comes to criticism, social viewpoints, friendships and relationships. In short, its almost obvious in this episode alone how Lena Dunham received her Golden Globe for Best Comedy Series. There comes a point when one can no longer continue tip-toeing around eggshells to make their thin-skinned friend feel comfortable in their own skin and has to make them realize that there is a whole other world out there beyond the confines of their head.
We open with Elijah telling his older boyfriend, George that he and Marnie (very briefly) engaged in an awkward coital experience that has him conflicted. Elijah is not one to be at fault in a situation like this and as he confesses, he also tries to spin the story in several different ways that make it seem like he had no responsibility in the situation, when in reality Elijah is the one initiated it. Elijah is even surprised when George breaks up with him, cursing Elijah’s mother’s name, for giving birth to such a sexually confused son from Boulder Springs. It was foolish for George to actually think someone as bratty as Elijah would be the adult and take responsibility for himself and his decisions or even have a clear path set out himself at all, when Elijah doesn’t even pay for anything, as we found out in last week’s premiere. All of this transpires as Hannah fumbles around to colorful aerobics workout videos online, while hearing the muffled argument on the other side of the wall. Is there a possibility that Hannah heard about the Elijah and Marnie incident as the Elijah and George were arguing about it? They do live in a small apartment with thin walls so…I don’t know. Elijah seems adamant that Marnie not tell Hannah; however, I have a feeling that Hannah might be picking up on more than they realize. Or maybe I’m just giving Hannah a bit more credit than she deserves.
Hannah goes to visit Jessa and Thomas John, who have just gotten back into town after their honeymoon. Jessa seems like a different person, but not in a sense that she seems as though she has become an adult, but is more so hanging on the realization that she has indeed skipped a few steps along her journey into adulthood. And she may be cornered by that reality. I’m still unable to read if Jessa’s feels for Thomas John are real or not, but if she’s faking it, she’s doing one hell of a job at holding up this facade. As she sits painting a portrait of her husband, Jessa seems almost half-awake in her situation. It’s too soon to tell, but I’m not sure about this marriage and I think some things are going to come to a head sooner or later. But right now the two work well together, because they are basically kids in adult bodies. And I think Jessa is continuing to runaway from somethings, and I think the comment she made about painting things she hates, like her mom and scenery, was a hint of that, which makes me vaguely worried about Jessa this season. Also, the exchange between Hannah and Thomas-John (who thinks her name is Dannah) concerning Hannah’s everyday get-up and “shorteralls” is downright hysterical and reveals how some people outside of Hannah’s world might view her: a quirky little girl. Not a woman. A just a simple girl who happens to live in New York and write essays about herself. Thomas John leaves Hannah and Jessa a basket of “fetus-sized” puppies and Jessa has a heart-to-heart with Hannah on grown-up relationships, although one could argue if Jessa’s relationship with Thomas John is “grown-up” or even real.
Hannah and Sandy have been getting along well, that is until the pushing from her friends, Elijah and Jessa (two people who Hannah sort of look up to as adults) make Hannah tackle the issue concerning her and her new beau’s differences. These differences aren’t because Hannah is white and Sandy is black, but rather everyone has their pants in a wad because Sandy just so happens to be a Republican. This fact doesn’t even seem to bother Hannah until Elijah and Jessa bring it up, especially Jessa. Once again, Hannah’s naivety and misplaced sense of guidance in her equally foolish friends push her into prematurely destroying a relationship still in its beginning stages. Hannah has been asking Sandy to read one of her essays and he’s been stalling on it. Jessa informs Hannah that if Sandy really loved her, he’d read her essay right away, just as Thomas John looks at her paintings right after she’s done with them. If there is anything Hannah wants, it is to seem like an adult. Having an adult relationship that works as well as Jessa’s (supposedly) does, would just be one step closer to being ideally perceived as a grown-up.
When Hannah confronts Sandy about the essay, he admits that he has read it, but did not really find it to be a piece of writing that has significant substance. Of course, Hannah being the thin-skinned writer she is, the critique feels like a slap in the face to her. The essay about a young woman discovering her sexuality may be well-written, but it apparently did not speak to Sandy. And immediately Hannah twists this honest criticism of her writing into an issue of their different social viewpoints. The thing is, Hannah doesn’t really even have a story to tell. She hasn’t really done much. In order to write a book of essays about her life, she has to do some living. Hannah’s life isn’t that exciting in a worldly sense. Not like Tally Schifrin’s life, who we met last season and who was the girl who took chances and really explored the world around her. She may not have been as good a writer as Hannah supposedly is (which is yet to be truly discovered) but at least Tally had something significant and full of substance to write about.
Hannah does have a few interesting stories she could tell. I mean this whole series is full of small incidents that have altered her life in certain ways. This whole dating experience with Sandy is something Hannah could take advantage of and write about or even the incident with Adam at the end of this episode. And yet the things Hannah chooses to write about, while well-crafted, hold no true weight to her skill. She wants to write about her changing sexuality when she’s still doing the same thing sexually she has done with her other boyfriends. Hannah’s sexuality isn’t changing, her world is. If she just took a moment to realize the world around her--the world outside of her head, she could probably write a bestseller one day. But that would mean she’d have to grow up, become an adult and take responsibility for her own crap, which Hannah has not matured enough to accomplish yet. She’s still a girl in all reality. Not a woman.
The argument that ensues between Hannah and Sandy is what I love so much about this show! Hannah’s big ideas about what she thinks she knows about social viewpoints and race relations are only vague concepts that she’s probably heard from her friends or pseudo-social conscience YouTubers. It’s even more hilarious because I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come into contact with individuals that are around Hannah’s age (in their twenties) who are hypocritical faux social justice crusaders who spew occasionally misguiding information. I’ll even admit I have personally been guilty of assuming certain things about individual viewpoints that might have not been entirely true myself. And it’s not just my generation that does this, FYI. Hannah spins so much in this excruciatingly hilarious argument that she ends up reciting Missy Elliot lyrics and even goes so far as assuming everyone else loves her writing but Sandy.
I guess this breakup means we are done seeing Sandy (Donald Glover) this season, which is sad, because he out of all of these young foolish characters displayed the most maturity, which is evident in how he informs Hannah that concepts of social viewpoints are more complicated than what she thinks and even when he tells Elijah that it doesn’t take two Republicans to make another Republican, just as it doesn’t take two terrorists to make another terrorist. Sandy is the type of guy Hannah ultimately needs in her life to open up her mind. But yet again, she ruins what could have been a potentially rewarding and growing experience. When Hannah gets called on her crap she becomes irrationally defensive, snaps back and then runs. I also think it was a great thing that Lena Dunham wrote Sandy as a black Republican seeing as how people these days have notions of there being no such thing as though a black conservative Republican and is sort of looked upon as being some sort of mythical creature.
Marnie continues on her path to find “the new her”. An interview at an art gallery with a pretentious art boss, portrayed by Laurie Simmons (who just so happens to be Lena Dunham’s artist mom) makes Marnie realize that she doesn’t particularly “fit in” where she thinks she does. She also finds that there isn’t much of a place for art curators these days, which means Marnie has to start her entire life plan over. One thing that the Laurie Simmons’s character does say during Marnie’s interview that I thought was important is, “[…] You’ve got that suit. Where does one get a suit like that? I don’t see you here.” Which is understandable, because when I think of the character of Marnie I don’t really think “art”, either. Marnie is literally stuck between being an adult and a hopeful high schooler who has eyed the wrong prize. Marnie doesn’t know who she is yet at all and is treading along, picking out things that seem appropriate for a girl her age with her Bachelor’s degree and high heels. But she’s pretty…
A newly in love Shoshanna and Ray give Marnie the idea to consider having a “pretty person job”, which apparently ranges from hostess to model. Shoshanna and Ray don’t consider Marnie to be a model, but a hostess, sure. I love that Ray admits that Marnie is pretty, but not attractive, because he knows her as a person and has never liked her self-interested attitude. Shoshanna hooks Marnie up with this new hostess job, and is immediately criticized for it by a self-righteous Hannah, who has just come back from her break up with Sandy and is eating spoonfuls of Cool Whip. The hurt feelings between Hannah and Marnie are still left unsaid, but sit passive-aggressively simmering, and that comes through from their snide comments at one another in this scene alone. It’s incredibly uncomfortable, as Hannah insists that Marnie is lowing herself to make “dirty money”, while Marnie diplomatically asserts that Hannah is just jealous because she’s not pretty enough to acquire a “pretty person job”. It’s petty, sad, bitter and yet somehow still vaguely funny. Mostly because it’s true.
Then there is Adam. This guy doesn’t give up easily. After sending Hannah a few odd and sad heartbreak songs, Hannah continues to brush Adam’s love off like it’s a pesky bug or something, while also considering the fact that he might be a murderer. Adam’s love does not fit into Hannah’s story--the story she thinks she is supposed to have. Plus, Hannah doesn’t really seem to love herself at this point in her life, so the fact that someone else could love her is inconceivable and makes her pity Adam for being so foolish. Although she doesn’t see (or write) herself as loveable, Hannah is capable of being loved. This season, the roles in the Adam-Hannah relationship are reversed. Last season we watched Hannah literally obsess over Adam, thinking that she wanted a love life with him when really she just enjoyed the possibility of writing a story of her being the unlovable girl that gets used for sex. But now Adam is the one who has latched onto her and due to Adam’s past with addiction, one could assume his new buzz is loving and chasing after Hannah. And Hannah doesn’t find the late night visits charming at all.
While kind of weird and a bit creepy at face-value, Adam’s late night visit at Hannah’s apartment is the equivalent of what she use to do to him last season, except Adam found Hannah’s visit’s a chance to bond. Adam is not a bad guy. He’s weird, sure, but he is a very passionate and emotional individual. Adam is one of the most complex characters in the series. He’s honest, challenging and doesn’t give up on what some would consider a lost cause, as he would consider it “an abandonment of his own manhood.” When Hannah is backed up against a wall like this and she is tested as a grown adult woman, she instantly gets called out on her bluff and does something stupid that she doesn’t understand fully because she continues to live in her little idealistic world.
Hannah ends up dialing 911, like a child, unable to defuse and handle this situation like an adult and she ends up making the incident a lot more worse than it should have been. While Hannah did not go through with the 911 call, the fact that she even felt the need to handle the situation with such little responsibility says a lot about how immature she is at this point and how she is unable to foresee consequences. That is until she hears the sirens in the background. Even with all of the animosity and repulsion Hannah throws at Adam as she physically pushes him out of her front door, I don’t think that she simply hates him now. Hannah pities him, which shows when she subtly tries to get Adam to come back inside the apartment before the cops show up to interrogate him and then take him away for parking tickets and an ignored summons for public urination, all while Hannah insists that “I just wanted him to stop texting me!” and then asks about restraining orders. It’s like a twelve year old calling the cops because they are mad at their friend. It makes for one hell of a scene full of hurt feelings, beaten egos and now betrayal, all due to a young woman’s inability to be an adult.
This week’s episode is a much more confident and self-aware installment than last week’s premiere, which does well to highlight all of the things we may not necessarily like about some of these characters, but enjoy watching. Hannah is not a very likeable character all the time nor are her peers, but much like Lena Dunham herself, I object to the notion that characters on television have to be likable all the time to make a series enjoyable. Girls continues to be a complex, layered study of a generation that has been spoon-fed ideas concerning all kinds of concepts by various venues, including our friends and especially the internet. I’m not sure any other episode of any other show has done such a good job at detailing all of that than this excellently crafted and very telling half-hour of tragic comedy television. “I Get Ideas” gets 5 out of 5 stars!
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© Patrick Broadnax 2013