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'Girls' 3x04, Dead Inside: Review

'Girls' 3x04, Dead Inside


“That’s really not good for a writer.” “Yeah, but it’s really good for a person.”

The 'Girls' tackle death...

Hannah sort of contradicts herself when she says this and Caroline's response is a sharp observation. A writer’s work is like a life in its own. The unforeseen death of what is such a large piece of an individual’s life and legacy is catastrophic. Given that the individual in question is Hannah and the legacy is her not so anticipated e-book, one can easily insist that the death of such a thing isn’t particularly dramatic for anyone but her. Is it that despicable for a writer to be more upset about the potential end of their work rather than the death of her very real and very human mentor? Maybe--well, yes, but it is vaguely understandable. “Dead Inside” is the first excellent episode of Girls this season, that manages to tackle death in a very humorous and ugly way. The death of one’s mentor is huge, but the death of one’s legacy and future is probably more concerning. I know, these words sound callous and disconnected, but the sad and unfortunate truth makes for a lot of excellent material to cover for the Girls involved--who is really jaded? Hannah for her numbness or the world for expecting a certain linear reaction to something that isn’t necessarily black or white. It’s the genius of this episode and it’s also what makes one so uncomfortable while watching it. But isn’t that why we love Girls

The nature in which Hannah passively discovers the death of her editor, David says enough about Hannah’s solipsistic state of mind. She’s really only there for her work--her e-book. This is nothing new, we all know about Hannah’s constant self-involved disposition, but we maybe never knew of her inability to live outside of herself until now. While David is not eternally vital to the universe of Girls, but up until now he’s been developed into another interesting minor (just from watching last week’s episode) he is one of the most vital pieces in Hannah’s world. His death means the death of her future and her book--this is her dream and fate is apparently messing with her dream. Hannah’s conversation with Jessa cleverly observes both character’s own arrogantly self-interested opinions about how death affects them, true or not. Jessa is her usual self; falsely wise and a vaguely offensive way that Hannah doesn’t even realize because she’s too busy wondering what the fate of her work will be.

Hannah’s future is truly at stake now, which is something everyone doesn’t seem to really grasp. They realize it, but they dismiss it because of the human life--it’s a distraction. I know, that sounds terrible, but it is true and that’s how the rest of our society treats death as well. We sweep it under the rug like we do most things. We live in a society in which we only give those of us who lose loved ones a week or so to mourn (quietly) before we expect them to get right back to being normal and okay. We also live in a world that likes to prescribe anti-depressants to individuals who lose loved ones so they don’t have to deal with feeling the loss, as if it were something to merely skip over--a cheat in the videogame that is life. We as people are scared of pain, especially pain we can’t physically see and mourning scares the living daylights out of us. And yet we react to people who try to move past it as if they are unfeeling monsters.

We tell people that there is this procedure in which we mourn and yet when they follow it, we dismiss them as callous. In reality, there is no real way to mourn. And life still goes on without that loved one. Is Hannah’s world suppose to blur in the same manner Adam insists simply because a friend and mentor passed? Maybe momentarily, but there are more impertinent worries eating at her--a young twentysomething who thought she was on the right path, but due to some act of fate is back where she started. Hannah’s work as a writer is irrelevant to everyone else at the moment--I don’t recall anyone else but David being ecstatic about Hannah’s talent. So that puts Hannah in the position to find someone else that believes in her and her talent enough to get her work out there to the public eye. The best bets of that happening are pretty slim. What were the chances of Hannah finding such a kooky, but passionate editor in the first place? Not to say that it can’t be done but good luck finding that again.

Hannah’s not callous for thinking about her future because who the hell isn’t at the age of twenty-five. Besides, David wasn’t particularly young. Time to pass the gauntlet onto someone else, maybe? What’s really bugging everyone is that Hannah isn’t following the protocol or stages of mourning. But really, it never seemed as though Hannah considered David as anything more than a door marked exit--an exit from her life of anxiety and failure. There aren’t really emotional attachments to a relationship like that. It’s a business relationship that holds Hannah’s future in a delicate basket that unfortunately broke. We also have to remember that this is Hannah’s first death. I too have never lost anyone close to me yet (and I truly never look forward to it) but apparently, one’s first death is such new and distressing ground that it takes a while for one to really process how it is affecting them. Hannah has never had what anyone would consider an appropriate reaction to anything, so why death? I’m not saying Hannah is wholly right in her insensitive reaction to someone's death in this episode, but for me (and maybe it is because I am a young writer as well) Hannah has never been more understandable, even in her anxious selfishness and her cringe-worthy but very appropriate and sharp shout-outs to Gawker and especially Jezebel.

Any viewer should have anticipated Adam’s reaction to Hannah’s solipsism. While we are still discovering many facets of Adam, we know of his tendency to dismiss individuals that don’t fit into his world view. So, it is a surprise he’s still putting up with Hannah’s crap which shows how patient he is with someone he truly loves. We don’t truly know how Adam deals with death, but one can assume he takes it very seriously by the way he scolds Hannah. Again, no surprise from Adam, he’s still the odd yet stoic and passionate gentleman he’s always been and we can tell that he’s maturing being with someone like Hannah--someone that challenges him. But is Hannah doing the same--not really. These past four episodes have shown Adam making some pretty mature compromises--both small and pretty large--to at least meet Hannah halfway on some pretty ridiculous stuff, but Hannah has barely afforded Adam the same courtesy. She tries to by the end of this episode, but it is a false and foul courtesy that could end up destroying their relationship if Hannah doesn’t stop over thinking and letting her anxiety of losing Adam eat at her.

Everyone should be glad that Caroline is sticking around! The same goes for Laird (Is anyone else quietly shipping these two?) The trio that is Hannah, Caroline and Laird is possibly one of the most interesting grouping the show has ever given us. I especially like that Caroline’s “crazy” certainly highlights Hannah’s anxious overspectulations. Their dispositions clash in such an ambiguously gray manner that one can’t help but be perplexed and a little uncomfortable when they‘re together. Both are unhinged individuals and in some way they feed off of each other in useful ways. Hannah does so in a more leeching way, which is all too evident when she recycles Caroline’s story about her dying cousin, Margaret in order to get Adam off of her back about being unforgiving callous concerning David‘s death. It’s such a morally gross moment that actually sent chills down my spine because I, maybe foolishly, thought Hannah wouldn’t or couldn’t go that far. But viewers should certainly be glad that she does, making the whole situation all the more disconcerting, especially for Hannah and Adam’s relationship. It always goes back to the opening café scene of the season premiere. Hannah has a fear that she’s not good enough for Adam and that he might one day leave her as he uncovers the darker corners of her personality. Because of this, Hannah is beginning to cloak her true self behind some rather foul pretenses simply to satiate Adam’s need for a more morally correct and passionate lover. That only spells disaster in the future.

Marnie deals with another kind of death--the death of whatever remaining dignity and patience she had. She’s moved onto the vice of extreme exercise to get out all of her aggression and conflicted feelings. Being the punching bag of the series is hard work, but Allison Williams manages to keep the audience involved in her times of misery. It helps that this embarrassing “What I Am” YouTube video is being used as a continuous taunt to Marnie--a reminder of her own fallibility. She’s continuing to convince herself that she is now an empowered single lady, but she’s only coming off as more manic, more depressed and more angry. She’s bitter and constantly trying to distract herself from the ugly reality all around her. She’s living alone in her apartment listening to inspirational audio tapes. It’s rather depressing. And something about Marnie throwing away a whole banana because she only found use in the tip for her protein cocktail kind of encapsulated many aspects about this series as a whole. Marnie’s interaction with Ray this episode indicates that Marnie has turned to lashing out on others. But as usual, Ray will continue to coach Marnie in her depressing life choices--maybe haphazardly. That itself may evolve into something else--a possible Marine and Ray coupling?

Due to Hannah’s latest grappling with death, Jessa takes interest in the subject and questions Shoshanna about her own run ins with losing a loved one. Of course, Shoshanna’s shallow disposition has her more concerned with aspects of the living. She’s the kind that would rather not dwell on any aspects of the old, decrepit or dying. She may not even understand it, which would not be surprising. Jessa’s journey this episode isn’t surprising either, but it definitely solidifies that people, after a time begin to see Jessa’s whole existence as a hindrance to moving forward in their own life. For a friend to fake their own death and funeral to keep you away from them is pretty telling of how apparently poisonous you might be. Is Jessa as poisonous as so many characters in this series have insisted? The evidence screams an emphatic “yes”. But the real question is, would Jessa really be concerned with that? When Jessa confronts her supposedly dead friend, she sees that that friend has moved on and has gotten better---she has a family and a lovely little brownstone. Season has it all together and apparently that’s because she has extracted Jessa from her life. When Season tells Jessa she knew she would not attend the fake funeral, Jessa sort of just accepts it. Jessa likes having little friend experiments and Season was one of them that managed to escape momentarily. Jessa likes to think she has control over those she allows in and out of her life, but here--this time, she doesn’t. This time Jessa is “smoteable”. But she seems to take this realization with a certain pride which means she’s on a whole road of (possibly destructive) self-discovery.

Death is something we’ll all have to grapple with at some point or another. But there is no perfect manner in which one must mourn. These expectancies are all false social constructions. Hannah may be self-interested, eternally solipsistic and extremely insensitive but she’s not unfeeling or monstrously callous. Her priorities spell something different and unexpected--something a bit off-putting--but those stuck in the middle of their twenties always have different priorities as opposed to others. That’s no lie but an ugly reality maybe. Hannah could write a moving story about how the death of her mentor and editor affected her, but it’d all be fiction and it’s not getting published anywhere due to said death so…what’s the point. Sometimes ugly fiction fills in the holes of someone’s numbness to the world around them. Just as Hannah. If twerking on a gravestone doesn’t spell insensitive for you then I don’t know what will. Is death good for a writer? Yes. But not in this scenario. “Dead Inside” gets 5 out of 5 stars!

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© Patrick Broadnax 2014

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