“Girls” returned on Jan. 19 with the engaging new episode, “She Said OK.”
Hannah (Lena Dunham) and Adam (Adam Driver) survive their awkward road trip and we find them ringing in an important milestone together: Hannah’s 25th birthday. The big day is drenched in drama by an unexpected visitor: Adam’s sister.
Sisterly Love or Lack Thereof
Twenty-five is an important age. Halfway to thirty means being well on the way toward not being able to say “I was too young to know better” to excuse poor life choices and irresponsibility. Though Hannah is in many ways astute and intellectual, she’s just as equally naive and emotionally immature.
And then there’s Adam. We’re still trying to figure out what makes him tick. Sex, yes. Exclusive time with Hannah, yes. We’ll even give him genuinely loving her, yes. But, he doesn't like to share her, and their life together, with anyone. He’s not shy about the fact that he doesn't like her friends. And, he’s never short on saying exactly how he feels. To a wincing, painful and rude “ouch” at times.
Adam doesn't have a steady job or really any responsibility. Somehow, Hannah is okay with that and sort of by default, so are we. So, is he mysterious and romantic or an overbearing cad? To Adam Driver’s Emmy-nominated credit, he’s a fascinating blend of both.
When his sister Caroline (played brilliantly by Lena Dunham’s childhood friend Gaby Hoffmann) shows up at Hannah’s homeless and jobless and begging for a place to stay, we realize just how sane her brother is by comparison.
It’s obvious they haven’t been on good terms when Adam loudly tells her she can’t stay there and Hannah reluctantly backs him up. Then, she caves and invites Caroline to her 25th birthday party. Adam isn’t pleased and the biggest thing we notice about his sisterly love is his blatant lack thereof.
It’s My Party and I’ll Sing If I Want To
Hannah’s party is in full swing and for once, she’s having a decent birthday. Adam kisses her and dances with her and even fetches her editor a drink. (Oh the joy in small victories …)
Caroline flirts with Ray (Alex Karpovsky) and he doesn’t reciprocate. So, she literally leaves her mark by biting him. Meanwhile, Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet), Marnie (Allison Williams) and Jessa (Jemima Kirke) gather with Hannah to toast her big day and Shosh remarks how little each of them have achieved in the four years since college. Keen observation, isn’t it?
Marnie eventually persuades Hannah to take the stage with her and sing “Take Me or Leave Me” from “Rent.” Allison Williams sounds fantastic and we’re thinking Ray was right many episodes ago when he told Marnie she should pursue singing. On the other hand, we’re glad Hannah hasn’t got an ivory-towered dream about winning on next year’s season of “The Voice.”’
“No, No, No, I’m Not Goin’…”
Adam gives Hannah a necklace bearing his “genetic material” because he’s not sure if the tooth dangling from it is his or his sister’s. Either way, she cherishes it. They enter her apartment kissing and peeling off clothes and Hannah puts a halt on things to go to the bathroom.
We’re all startled to find a nude-from-the-waist-down Caroline standing in the bathroom, where she crushes a glass in her bare hand. Blood streams everywhere so they rush her to ER and she ends up staying the night afterward.
A defeated Adam and a dazed Hannah sit perched on the edge of Hannah’s bed and she dubiously asks, “Do you still want to have sex?”
In his flat, expressionless voice Adam nearly whines, “I told you. She got in.”
Caroline drives in her territorial stake without the brilliant “Dreamgirls” accompanying music. “No, no, no, I’m not goin’! I’m gonna make you love meeee…”
Her mania manipulates the situation to her familial advantage. Surely her brother won’t send her packing post-blood-soaked freak out!
This entire sequence is brilliantly played by Dunham, Driver and Hoffmann and paints a realistic portrayal of the embarrassing family secrets and relationships we hide, deny, or are forced to manage within the scope of our own chaotic lives. We are all arguably a product of our childhoods and at the same time, many of us are desperate to cut family ties and escape the environments in which we were raised.
We get a strong sense of what Adam may have endured to shape his own flawed personality. And, Hannah is treated to this dysfunctional family insight as well. This might be the first grown up problem the self-absorbed pair has ever dealt with together.
Series star and co-creator Lena Dunham addresses Hannah’s pivotal age in an “Inside the Episode” video clip on the “Girls” website saying, “Turning 25 kind of makes it all a little less cute and a little more real.”
What will dealing with serious real life family issues mean for Adam and Hannah? Will they be able to hack it? Or, will they refuse to handle it?
Tune in to “Girls” on HBO on Jan. 26 at 10 p.m. ET to see what happens next.