“Girls” is back. I offered some initial thoughts on the new season on Friday, and I have a review of the season premiere coming up just as soon as the pants made of SCUBA material make me look crazy…
“I’m going to make logical and responsible decisions when it comes to you.” -Hannah
Early in the season premiere, Hannah and her new boyfriend Sandy hang out at Spoonbill & Sugartown, a location chosen because it’s a real indie bookstore in Brooklyn, but also, I assume, because spooning winds up being such a dominant image of the episode. We open on Elijah and Hannah cuddling in bed together, and later see Hannah stuck next to Adam in his bed, and then Marnie seeking comfort in Charlie’s. Spooning is an intimate act, albeit not as intimate as sex, but here it’s all phony.
The camera pans up Elijah’s leg anonymously at first, as if there’s some great new guy sleeping with Hannah, but instead it’s the gay ex-boyfriend who’s a bad influence on her (and vice versa), whose current friendship is so clumsy and forced that they have to get louder and louder while preparing their party because a high volume seems like the only way of convincing each other that they’re happy.
Adam still has deep feelings for Hannah – “When you love someone,” he tells her, “you don’t have to be nice all the time” – but she’s decided (honestly or not) that she no longer feels that way about him, and is only tending to his needs out of guilt for her role in his injury. Her frequent visits are, of course, making things worse, and she ultimately decides the only way to deal with things is to break the rules she announced in the bookstore and pay Sandy a booty call. If she’s going to make the same mistakes, at least they can be with a new guy this time.
Marnie, meanwhile, can’t stop herself from going back to Charlie again and again, even though we know she’s not happy when she’s with him. Here, she just needs a safe place after a week when she was downsized – and deemed so unimportant that her boss almost forgot to tell her at all – and a night when she and Elijah tried and failed to have sex together. (Elijah’s suggestion that he might be bisexual seems in this case to be another lie: an excuse to forget about his drunk sugar daddy for the night, and for both Marnie and himself to do something hurtful to Hannah.) She doesn’t care about Charlie; she’s just too miserable to be alone.
We only glimpse Jessa and Thomas John briefly on their return from their honeymoon, but we have a pretty good idea of the fakeness of their relationship (she doesn’t even know their address) from previous episodes. This week, our healthiest relationship involves Shoshanna and Ray, who finally have an honest conversation about his feelings for her, and get back together as a result.
The episode functions as a scene-setter for the season, reminding us where everyone is (emotionally and geographically), introducing new characters like Sandy or establishing the role a previously minor character like Elijah plays now that he’s at center stage. More importantly, though, it was a reminder of how funny, uncomfortable and smart “Girls” can be, and why I’m so glad to have this show back on the air.
Some other thoughts:
* Jemima Kirke was pregnant during filming of this season, but Jessa isn’t, so you can have fun paying attention to how the show’s directors (in this case, Lena Dunham herself) frame her in each scene.
* Dunham and company clearly took the complaints about the first season’s overwhelming whiteness to heart, not only bringing in Donald Glover to play Sandy, but doing smaller but important touches like making sure the extras in the party scene were a much more diverse group than we tended to get last year.
* Rita Wilson makes sense as Marnie’s mother (and was funny), but now I’m trying to imagine whom they could possibly cast as her father who would make us forget who Allison Williams’ real, very famous father is.
* Call it, friendos, part 1: Funnier line: Hannah misunderstanding Elijah’s line about a French salon and saying,
“I’ve always felt I was secretly really good at cutting hair,” Shoshanna and Ray’s argument about her texts (“You make no sense!”) or Elijah asking Shoshanna, “Do you miss your hymen?”
* Call it, friendos, part 2: with the karaoke, did you prefer Shoshanna wishing anyone would notice her, Ray and Charlie wailing on “House of the Rising Sun,” or Marnie and Elijah’s drunken duet?
* The physics of relationships, past and present: Marnie can now appreciate the way Charlie would hover over her at parties to make sure she was okay, while that behavior is annoying the hell out of his current girlfriend Audrey, just like it annoyed Marnie when they were actually dating.
* Some people run amusingly when they’re not trying to (David Caruso, for instance), while others do it when it’s supposed to be funny, like Lena Dunham in the scene where she runs back into the apartment building.
What did everybody else think?