“You have to take the whole thing or nothing”
When relationships surpass the elating honeymoon phase, reality sinks back in along with expectations and insecurities. This often causes couples to over analyze, over assert and quite literally over compensate with uncomfortable force that then sends their lovers running. Girls is in its last few episodes of the season and with that in mind, the consequences of the characters’ actions and their “adult” decisions finally come to erupt their self-contained, go-lucky little worlds. We often like to romanticize the past--the good old days with one’s lover that started the relationship. However, on this anxious mission to save our love, we fail to observe the ways in which said relationship has evolved--how we have changed that person’s perspective and how they have changed ours. Except, sometimes there is not always mutual change, causing these old ideas about our partner to clash with their reality. All of this occurs in “Role-Play”, and not only does this happen with Hannah and Adam, but with Jessa, Shoshanna and even a bit with Marnie. How does one grow with another person attached to them? Is it really an all or nothing type of situation?
As open-minded as she tries to present herself, Hannah doesn’t take to change very well. And there has been a major change in Adam since his Broadway career has taken off. He’s found a sense of purpose in his work. It’s not simply him trying on hats anymore, this is Adam actually being “at work”, a concept of which he never really took seriously before. Before, Hannah found a weird security in the fact that Adam’s focus and passions were mainly directed towards her, but now her position has shifted and she is number two in his life. It is all too evident when Adam barely even notices or cares that Hannah spent the night with one of her male co-workers after a night of drinking. This is pretty much Hannah’s worst nightmare come true; Adam is no longer directing every ounce of his attention onto her. Hannah’s domestic tranquility is disrupted and after a bit of off-kilter relationship advice from Elijah, Hannah hatches her most foolishly audacious resolute to recapture Adam’s attention. A plan that presents us with one of the show’s most hilarious and bizarre scenarios.
All of that said, some of the scenarios in which we get to see Adam passively pushing Hannah away feel a bit forced, especially after last week. Yet at the same time, one can understand Adam’s own candor in the situation. While we might be ready to dismiss Adam as a jerk by the end of the episode, one must also take into account the reality of Hannah’s own misconceptions about what her boyfriend wants. Adam’s development as a person has seen him gain purpose in Hannah but also now, his work. Adam was one of those guys dismissive of what one would call “normal routine”. Pride for one’s work? Work never seemed to be at the top of Adam’s list of priorities. He let his passions and odd hotheaded disposition rule him. It is interesting to see how Adam’s development is clashing with Hannah’s stagnancy in true development. Adam is beginning to observe Hannah’s own lack of true growth in their relationship. Adam’s disposition has shifted, yet Hannah’s perspective has stayed the same. In a sense, Hannah is holding Adam back from recognizing his own potential.
All of this comes about rather quickly, which is both a little bewildering and gives one an “all too soon” feeling. Still, one might consider the best attributive adjective for young relationships is abrupt. Everything happens quickly and without much warning, because these are young adults still filling out their own personalities in a world that more or less takes them seriously. Adam is totally dismissive throughout the episode. He’s passive when his director throws Hannah out of a rehearsal of which he invited her and flippantly pushes her to put on a deranged bondage garm and get her relationship back on track. However, she falters (much to our amusement) and ends up getting Adam’s attention in the worst way, making him realize he wants his own space. And he’s staying with Ray of all people. It makes it all the more evident that Adam has been planning an out for a considerable amount of time now. This whole thing is excruciating to watch--almost masochistic, yet oh so hilarious and entertaining. You know the end result will be nothing good, but you enjoy the ride while it lasts--all up until that last bit.
Adam’s dismissive attitude towards Hannah comparing their work is a definite and cruel jab at Hannah’s individuality as a writer. Patti LuPone’s words of warning have become harsh reality and there’s a crushing sense of reaching an end that taps into the not-so-comedic tragedy of young relationships. But while Adam sees this momentary impasse between them as a pause, Hannah observes Adam’s candor as a distinct resolute against her whole being. Where does a relationship go after a confrontation like this--the kind of confrontation full of unsaid things that have been boiling under the surface for some time. Hannah hasn’t been enjoying her and Adam’s level intimacy lately and Adam has not been particularly interested in all of Hannah’s drama. “What drama? This is just me.” And Adam responds “Exactly” That last moment between Hannah and Adam pretty much says it all: Hannah has likely ruined her relationship. Either that or she has observed her mistake and will take the necessary steps in rebuilding and supporting Adam. However, knowing Hannah she’ll likely make it much worse. This isn’t to say that Adam is totally right in his perspective--neither of the pair are, but they play both perspectives beautifully. The situation is just a little terrible to watch unfold, no matter how hilarious the previous scenario happens to be.
In the two beginning episodes of the season, Shoshanna expressed her admiration for Jessa. She’s always had this idea about her cousin that were more glamorous than the reality. Maybe this naïve idea of Jessa that Shoshanna had constructed was a product of her own shallow upbringing based on surface level observations that rarely apply to the ugly reality. Whether that is true or not, this is the episode where Shoshanna gets a very disappointing reality check concerning her cousin. Jessa finds herself happily role-playing as Jasper’s new daughter--something to keep him from pitifully doing drugs alone. Shoshanna is subjected to all of their antics together and it gives her a real look into just how much danger Jessa is in if this continues down this path with this abysmal new father figure of hers.
Reaching out to Jasper’s daughter, Dot portrayed by Felicity Jones is the best thing Shoshanna could have done, splitting this toxic relationship between Jessa and Jasper. Jasper has someone to help him, but Jessa doesn’t really have anyone willing to pull her out of her own drug-induced debauchery. At least Shoshanna is able to observe it in all of it’s ugliness, but she doesn’t know how to help Jessa do and be better. The demystification of Jessa is probably the most important and prominent warning sign Shoshanna has observed with new eyes and it makes one wonder how it will affect their relationship from here on out. Jessa admits she’s an addict. She’s not hiding that reality anymore. But now that Jessa’s buzz is gone--a father figure that leaves her in the dust--how will she replace it? What now?
As it happens, Marnie continues to be a mess. It’s great that she’s inspired in her music yet again and is helping Soo-Jin out with her art gallery--but the reality is, Marnie stays stagnant and flailing because she’s finding purpose through other people's validation. She’s not letting herself take charge of her own circumstance. This is why she always fumbles in her endeavors and ends up shooting herself in the foot. The scene between her and Desi makes one die of second-hand embarrassment because obviously this was going to happen, it has to. This Desi guy is too good to be true and it’s both crushing and hilarious to see Marnie trip herself up again. How does she continue to find herself in these situations? Maybe Marnie isn’t supposed to be the lead on anything. She’s playing side-kick to a lot of situations and she likes to act as though she’s empowered through it all, but she’s having the worst time and the worst luck. That said, she’s probably doing a hell of a lot better than most people. Even if Desi doesn’t happen to be someone she gets romantically involved with, he can possibly help her open doors to something more rewarding, creatively. The same goes for Marnie's relationship Soo-Jin. Maybe, just maybe Marnie’s luck could be turning around if she plays her cards right.
This episode of Girls is a little messy and abrupt. It's true. But it definitely helps that this is one of the most laugh-out-loud funniest episodes of the season and Dunham’s comedic range is exemplified here, as well as those dramatic elements. This season as a whole has done a great job at leveling out the humor and the drama to near perfection. And while the installment happens to have a choppy element to it, the final result puts everything into important perspective for the final two episodes. Can you have part of a person in a committed relationship? If we’re observing the girls and their relationships here, then the answer would be an emphatic maybe. When professional and romantic relationships clash, one has got to give and the other may fall by the wayside. Playing at being in healthy adult relationships instead of developing along the way like an actual person, these things will happen however unfortunate and ugly they are.This is all good material with a purpose, no matter how haphazardly it occurs. “Role-Play” gets 4 out of 5 stars!
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© Patrick Broadnax 2014