It’s not everyday that one finds themselves floundering after basically calling it quits with their two best friends. There is a whole “what now?” feeling that lingers after that. In this installment of Girls, we get a brief and meaningful look into the next stage that these young twenty-somethings will take on. After last week’s insane blowout full of cocaine, tears, the destruction of friendships and utter chaos, the fourth episode is a more character-based and focused installment that leaves the viewers elated to see more. Yes, “It’s a Shame About Ray” is in fact one of the best episodes of the entire series thus far. It’s amazing how it cleanly transitions to each of its characters and ends on a more optimistic note than the last few episodes have. Not only are the characters observe their friend’s shameful behaviors, but they are also forced to notice and deal with their own distasteful dispositions, but the show does it in a way that perfectly blends humor, heart, and even some sad realism.
Right from the opening scene there are hurt feelings and adults behaving like spoiled, ridiculous teenagers in a situation that could have been handled with a lot more tact. Elijah indeed does move out of Hannah’s apartment, grabbing at his things like a child while he packs up and heads for the door. The fall out from last episode has Hannah still furious about Elijah and Marnie’s betrayal. In fact, as childish revenge, Hannah decides to keep all the stuff Elijah’s ex-boyfriend, George paid for which is nearly everything. As ridiculous as these two self-entitled, self-interested individuals are, it is friendship divorce that needed to be done. I quite liked the character of Elijah; however, his dismissal (for now) is kind of pertinent. Hannah’s comment about trying to repurpose Elijah in her life “like a vintage cardigan” just says a lot about her character. Some might feel as though Hannah’s time with Elijah may have been her holding onto some possibility of them getting back together, which is the kind of idiocracy Hannah would spend a good amount of time considering.
It’s also pertinent that Hannah and Elijah finally split because of how destructive they are for one another, and the last episode is very indicative of that fact. It’s all fun and games until someone sleeps with their ex’s best friend. Besides, this facade of being “happy roommates” had to end soon, and clearly it wouldn’t have ended in a good fashion either way. Before Elijah makes his drama queen exit, he informs Hannah he will not be paying rent for the month, which is somehow revenge for Hannah making him buy her so many burritos in college. These two individuals are better off separate, no matter the glorious dance parties they’ve shared and the hilarious chemistry they’ve maintained in the past few episodes. Just like Adam said last season, “Every time you shed a layer, you’re growing. Getting closer to yourself.” Yeah, something like that…
From that point on, Hannah decides to have another “grown-up” party to commemorate her recent friendship divorce and mark another obstacle in her road to becoming a responsible adult. Who knows how Hannah will pay rent for the month. Yet, setting that worry aside for the day, Hannah invites her friends over to help her celebrate. I think the fact that Hannah feels the need to have a party and invite people over her apartment after a big transition in her life also says something about her inability to deal with everyday stresses that most adults should be able to deal with by Hannah’s age. This is incredibly transparent by the very fact that she invites Marnie, who she has very recently dismissed in her own quirky and furious way. More hurt feelings and petty, childish behavior is abound as Hannah and Charlie’s annoyed girlfriend, Audrey makes snide remarks at Marnie’s expense, while Marnie is no more than six feet away in the bathroom attempting to contain herself in this awkward situation that Hannah has incidentally set up. Once again, I don’t think Hannah really thought about anyone but herself in this scenario, as she invited friends who aren’t exactly fond of each other over to her small apartment, to comfort her.
It doesn’t take long before the tension in the room escalates and Audrey speaks her mind. This confrontation comes after some frank and hilarious conversation about buttplugs, buttholes, sexuality, and Audrey’s new venture into providing the world with more condiments. What ever would we do without more variations of mustard. Anyway, Audrey makes it her business to call Marnie out on her recent job loss and her subsequent “pretty person job”, no doubt shoving everyone’s face in Charlie’s ex-girlfriend’s failure to launch into adulthood like she is. Funny things is, if Marnie were in Audrey’s position, she would be just as defensive and irrational as Audrey is. These two ladies aren’t very different from each other. They’re both terribly insecure beautiful young women who are self-interested and a bit out of touch.
Before the full confrontation, Audrey passive-aggressively teases Marnie with the word “butthole”. When Audrey finally tells Marnie off and reveals she knows about the night Marnie visited Charlie, Hannah even has the audacity to jump on the “Get Marnie!” bandwagon and egg on Audrey, as she berates her bad best friend. At one point Hannah even insists that Marnie is too self-centered to ever admit to being suicidal. One thing I love about Girls is its ability to set up complicated, tense confrontations and inject them with a healthy dose of realistic humor. This scene does all of that! Marnie leaves completely verbally battered and embarrassed by the fact that her own best friend would not stick up for her. What is also immediately shameful is Charlie’s reaction, when he leaves Audrey behind to comfort his ex...
While the way Audrey handles the entire situation is less than tactful or mature, Charlie is at fault here as well. This is a character I usually have a lot of sympathy for, seeing as how he’s constantly getting the short end of the stick no matter what he does, but here, Lena Dunham paints Charlie in a different light when he does a bait-and-switch move between Marnie and Audrey. Charlie wants his cake and feels the need to eat it too. It’s understandable that Charlie may still have feelings for Marnie, as they’ve apparently dated for at least five years, and that’s not easy to just forget. However, he can’t lead Audrey on the way he’s been doing. It confirms, at least for me that Audrey is just a rebound for him. Even Charlie, the sensitive and modest guy that we all sympathized with in Season 1, can be a jerk as well. Not just a guy like Adam or Elijah or Booth Jonathan. We sensitive guys all have our jerky moments too. Besides, Charlie's near irrational reliance on having a woman in his life will only continue to drag him down. Granted the guy is in quite a tough pickle.
Thankfully, after all the pettiness, harsh words, and hurt feelings, Hannah sticks up for her friend, even though she may be in the wrong. This goes to show that even though Hannah is frequently a self-interested ridiculous person, she has a real connection with Marine, no matter the new unpleasant developments between them. Hannah calls Charlie out on his BS, when Charlie curses Marnie’s name for distracting him from “his good thing” with Audrey. It’s a moment worthy of applause, really. You think, “oh, Hannah finally gets it.” But really, Hannah just needs a friend right now. She’s just lost one (Elijah) that she thought she could start over with. Now Hannah has no roommate and no one to really talk to. Hannah is seemingly grasping at straws right now attempting to find someone to experience her life with, besides celebrating the publication of her article at Jazzhate.com. Hannah might be worried that she and Marnie may fail to start over in the same way she and Elijah so recently did. Marnie is still on a rather clueless and self-destructive path as of now. She’s lost and confused, and the people in her life are kicking her while she’s down. However, all of these harsh reality checks might be a necessary good thing for someone like Marnie. I’m hoping that by the end of the season, she has some sort of revelation…
In the midst of all that drama, Shoshanna finds that her relationship with Ray has escalated into new territory, unbeknownst to her. Yes, even beyond questions of sexual stimulation (buttplugs). Truly hilarious and full of heart, this seemingly simple subplot is pure gold. The miracle pairing of someone like Shoshanna and someone like Ray is already enough to marvel at in their simplicity, but this new development for the character of Ray is excellent and much needed. We even finally find out Ray’s age, which is thirty-three, and Shoshanna’s being twenty-one. A small question of curiosity from Hannah turns into this whole revelation that Ray is not as well put together as his peers may have previously thought. Ray is homeless and deems himself a loser. Shoshanna’s shock at that fact that Ray has in fact been crashing at her apartment is not only hilarious, but sweet.
Shoshanna isn’t so worried about the fact that Ray has inadvertently been living with her, but more worried about her lack of preparedness in this unexpected situation, such as being unable to change the sheets and calling people for advice on living with a lover for the first time. In all seriousness, Ray, while a grouchy male voice of reason in a series that is mostly centered around four girls struggling to become adults, is actually a sweet guy with his own transitional problems into adulthood. Just in different ways. It’s refreshing, the odd honesty this couple shares when they finally reveal their very real feelings for one another, in only a way they can. "I love you so f***ing much!" proclaims Ray. It’s all special and weirdly romantic, set in a noisy subway. It’s probably the most excellent pair of revelations so far for the show.
Finally, after her absence for most of the season thus far, we swing focus to Jessa and her marriage with Thomas-John (Chris O’Dowd). It was only a matter of time before this farce of a marriage imploded in on itself, and Thomas-John’s visiting parents starred as the catalyst for just that. Jessa and Thomas-John have just been having fun with each other so far in their marriage. It’s apparently been two months in the honeymoon phase and now its time for them to get real. And Jessa certainly is blunt and very real when she finally meets face-to-face with the two people responsible for unleashing the ridiculousness that is Thomas-John into the universe. Thomas-John’s parents get an earful of Jessa’s lack of job focus, her past heroin addiction, the fact that she dropped out of college, and her lack of faith. All of this honesty is twisted in thinly-veiled condescension that only Jessa is capable of. After detecting a hint of judgement, Jessa goes all out, revealing everything. However, Thomas-John’s mother is hung up on the idea that Jessa married her son for his miracle success. Jessa makes no apologizes for being completely upfront and frank with her new in-laws, and even hits it off with Thomas-John’s ambiguously creepy father. One could assume where that could have gone if Thomas-John and his mother weren’t present.
Once the married couple returns to their luxurious apartment, Thomas-John informs Jessa that their marriage was a mistake--the biggest mistake of his life. These two people aren’t that different in all reality. Both just wanted to have fun, do something crazy, and try something wild. Unfortunately, the fun ends here. Thomas-John has pretty much been going through this marriage like it has been an extended amount of time with a prostitute, which is especially evident when he offers Jessa money to go away. There has always been more complex layers to the character of Jessa that we are just now beginning to see peeled back. I believe Jessa really wanted this marriage to work. Last season, the talk that Kathryn gave Jessa awakened something in her. Jessa wants something more than just traveling all over the world with nothing to come back to. Jessa does want a family and a good, fun, adult marriage. However, she’s too young and stuck in her wild bohemian lifestyle ways to go about achieving adulthood in the right way. The convention of marriage does not mean one is an adult. And that’s got to be extremely frustrating. Jessa may have thought Thomas-John was the one to get her on the right track; however, he reveals his true ridiculous (and childish) nature and gives Jessa a loud, yet rather true speech about her own faults and flaws. And clearly it resonated with her well enough for Jessa to punch him in the face. I assume any woman would react that way when called a “whore with no work ethic.”
It all leads to Jessa showing up at Hannah’s apartment, while our main protagonist lies naked and singing in her bathtub, soaking out all of the bad energy that recently invaded her space. I don’t think I’d be telling a lie when I insist that this scene is one of the best moments between characters, friends and women in the entire series thus far. For the first time Jessa shows real and raw vulnerability and Hannah comforts one of her friends in need without asking any questions. It’s probably the only considerate thing Hannah has done so far this season. After all the hurt feelings, harsh verbal beatdowns, and gang ups, it is exceptionally nice to see these two young women come together after all the separate drama they’ve encountered in the day. Once again, Lena Dunham seamlessly injects humor into this real moment when Jessa literally snot-rockets into the bathtub. It’s disgusting, real, hilarious and fantastic. It’s a perfect way to end a rather emotionally draining episode. Not to mention the excellent use of the hit Oasis song, “Wonderwall”, which has always been a nostalgic favorite of mine. I guess Hannah might have found a new roommate in Jessa, now that her marriage is practically over and Hannah has a room open.
Girls is in rare form in this installment. Absolutely one of the best, if not the best episode of the series so far! The character developments are fresh and involving, and the tense confrontations are cleverly laced with bits of sharp humor and odd wit, which is all definitely on point. It’s amazing how a series as simple as this one can surprise time and time again. While these twenty-something adults still search aimlessly for the vital meaning of adulthood and maturity, it is imperative that they all have each others’ backs. Everything is moving in the right direction, and even though a lot of things these characters do happen to be shameful, they occasionally shock with tender moments full of heart, humor, and odd authenticity. “It’s a Shame About Ray” gets 5 out of 5 stars!
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© Patrick Broadnax 2013