Monday, February 11

girlsGIRLSgirls: The One Where Hannah Gets All Wifed Up

Whether you sat at home, laughing or glaring gape-jawed at the teevee over the insanity of this past episode, this one was a multi-layer, parfait-style doozy. A few quick must-discuss items, at the top:

— The entire thing was a dream of Sex And The City proportions. I know we're never supposed to cross the two names in case the skies erupt and a Zeus-sized Lena Dunham bursts from between the clouds like an massive animatronic "It's A Small World" character to lecture us in robot voice that "OOOOOUR SHOOOOW IS NOTHINGGGG LIKEEE THAT ONEEEEE", but let's be real. The sexual premises of this makeshift affair was straight out of the pages of Darren Star's playbook, because the only person who could play wife for a night and gigglingly get away with partaking in half-naked ping-pong is Carrie Bradshaw, not anyone else, not no one. (I know what you're thinking, but Samantha Jones doesn't play recreational sports, bitch please.)

— And on that Jonesian subject, because there was a whole lot of sensual penis-in-vagina time in this one (unlike the peeing portrayals of yesteryear) I’m standing with this: I think in terms of the gratuitous nudity, Lena's trying to desensitize us, like a one woman call to arms to change our vision of what a beautiful female body should be. It's an interesting trick because she's exposing how aligned each audience member's predetermined notion of beauty is in conjunction with mainstream ideals, based on their level of outrage. Her deliberate, needless nudity is a constant reminder that not all women look like the perfect bobble heads we've been trained to believe we should emulate; it's why Lena's boobs being on display is almost as widely contested as Allison Williams' refusal to show hers on screen. It takes a lot to be the physical embodiment of that tug-of-war and never-ending debate, and I'm done questioning her oft-clothless demeanor. The majority of us watching this show look something like her, to one degree or another, and Lena’s no longer making it easier for us to disassociate from that fact. If it makes me uncomfortable, it's because I'm projecting my own personal issues upon her imperfect body, not because anyone larger than a size 6 should be cloaked in bedsheets or carefully chosen '50s-style lingerie whenever facing a video recording device.

— It's incredible how much of a child Hannah still is, instead of the adult she's convinced she has become — did you see her duck under 'schua's arm to enter his house like a toddler at Chuck-E-Cheese? Brilliant.

But on to greener and more dehydrated pastures, like the hunk of meat this one was about, (besides shirtless Patrick Wilson): the mini-breakdown Hannah endures while baring her soul after gummyworm dream time.

I don't think the point of this episode was that Hannah now knows what it means to be happy. I think it's that she now realizes her version of happiness is the same as that of every person previously thought to be her antithesis. The big, beautiful house; the strong, muscular man; the rich, well-off doctor — this is what we're all told we want when we're younger, and now that it's fallen into Hannah's lap, she actually likes it. She likes drinking a glass of wine on the backyard patio like a grown-up, she likes the two-towel steam shower with all the high-tech buttons, she likes being able to read that morning's The New York Times without thinking twice about how much it costs to subscribe. "Look at me now!" she easily thought to herself at least once in terms of Adam, Sandy, and whomever else her latest vendetta is against. She revels in the fact that she, too, can pull the type of man typically reserved for Marnies of the world, ones who find her as beautiful and interesting and wild as she herself believes she is.

I have to be incredibly delicate as I say this, but there are a fuckton of women who deep down want that same trifecta: rich, attractive, successful. Many also don't — which is a beautiful truth unto itself — but you can't look at anything on a flat-panel screen, from Millionaire Matchmaker to the beautifully tragic Celeste and Jesse Forever that proves otherwise. Even Rashida Jones' persona in the latter "wants the father of her child to have their own car", not love and creativity and dedication, which, I think, is easily worth more than a 2007 Prius. It's also the reason why Steve was always thought to be a less-capable mate than Mr. Big: he was the sweaty, squirrely, ambitious sad sack to the clean-cut Disney prince of a trophy husband.

In overly personal terms, I happen to like my men funny, ambitious and capable of growing beards, which is why I used to find myself in odd romantic entanglements of every shape and size. I've dated people whose parents' mansion had heated floors; I've dated people for six months overseas who couldn't afford to use more than a few minutes on a phone card to talk each week. No matter what the situation, you figure it out; Either you care about the man, or his things. And I think Hannah, while bursting into tears, realizes she wants what most of the women she's tried so hard to define herself apart from also crave. She wants the house, the husband, the fantastic backyard next to those loudmouth youths to curl up and read a paper in. She wants the Bonne Maman jam, not the Smuckers; the modernist, artistic bed frame in lieu of Ikea.

Hannah purposefully reiterates that she wants to be happy — but really, what in her life besides her own intolerability isn't making her that way? Her lack of ambition, her misguided it just that she doesn't want to try anymore, and prefers to live in this brownstone bubble of bliss? Hannah, who has spent this entire time believing she was special, creative, unique, now begins to realize she's just like everyone else, and cannibalizes this mini-relationship by expunging the exciting literary persona she's developed for herself. After all, she's a writer who never writes. It's all in her head, which is the true unspoken twenty-something tragedy: in a world where everyone's a star in their own mind, how do you cross over and make it a reality? With that empty look of defeat in her eyes even as she realizes her minor triumph — the sexit — is a misnomer already used and defined, you can see her start to crack. And then suddenly, on those bedsheets, it's clear. She, at the core, is normal, and she can't quite deal with that.

The irony, of course, is that as the show’s creator, Lena is anything but. This is the only episode that really displays the parallels between the character she plays and the person she is, particularly because the real-life Hannah was sitting alongside her award-winning, rock star boyfriend at the Grammys while this artistic nugget of confusion aired.

Even more notable is that this episode had notes of Louie oozing out each end of it, from the minor details of awkward mannerisms to its inclusion smack in the middle of a season of dialogue-driven storyboards. It was brilliant, in a way, because from that first glass of lemonade you knew it was coasting down the Louis C.K. Comedy-Drama Freeway, but she made it work from her own younger, more delicate point of view. No surprise that the girl behind the camera can paint a picture of twentysomething normalcy, because she, unlike that dastardly Hannah, is the one actually putting in the time.

Girls Season 2, Episode 5: One Man's Trash
Best Line: "The fruit in the bowl, and the fridge with the stuff..."
Best Mate: Well, by default, that strapping lad known as Patrick "buff for his age" Wilson.
What Kind Of A-Hole Was Hannah This Week?: A Reborn One. This minor epiphany may or may not have changed her — only time will tell — but only a pompous literary snobette like herself could make a preachy speech about one's feelings seem so doggedly self-centered.
I Give This... 4 out of 4 bathtub snax. Unexpected, cinematic, and ultimately kind of sad. This one was a slice of something beautiful, down to its inherently confusing nature.

Earlier Ladyshow Nonsense:
Girls Season 2, Episode 4: It's A Shame About Ray
Girls Season 2, Episode 3: Bad Friend
Girls Season 2, Episode 2: I Get Ideas
Girls Season 2, Episode 1: It's About Time

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