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‘Girls’ Outrage Tracker: Allison Williams’ ‘Controversial’ Sex Scene in “Iowa”

'Girls' Outrage Tracker: Season 4, Episode 1, 'Iowa'

Introducing the “Girls” Outrage Tracker (GOT), your weekly guide to HBO’s most controversial show.

Episode: 401, “Iowa”

What are we outraged about this week? A scene where Marnie (Allison Williams) gets her ass eaten out by Desi (Ebon Moss-Bachrach).

How outraged are we? Not much, although there’s been plenty of back-of-the-sex-ed-classroom sniggering. Is it possible we’re not mature enough as a society to watch “Girls”?

Outrage justification level: Minimal. Compared to, say, Adams nonconsensually spooging on his girlfriend’s chest, Desi tossing Marnie’s salad is practically vanilla — it’s not even as dramatic as Lena Dunham deleting her Twitter app. The brief, relatively discreet scene — Allison Williams’ no-nudity clause holds firm — made several swift but firm points about the nature of their relationship. Marnie responding to Desi’s moaned “I love this!” with “I love you, too” speaks volumes about their unequal footing, and the later reminder that Desi’s still in a long-term relationship with Clementine (Natalie Morales) suggests that he’s using the affair to explore sexual territory his regular S.O. won’t venture into.

How are we handling it? The been-there-done-that New York Post observed last week that “Girls” has “gone mild,” but the Show That Launched a Thousand Thinkpieces still managed to fog a few monocles with a scene in its fourth-season opener, “Iowa,” that featured Marnie getting rimmed by her musical partner and clandestine b.f. Desi. US Weekly was shocked — shocked, I say! — by the “gross details,” although the only gross thing in the article was the fact that they contacted Williams’ father for comment. His response: “No animals were harmed during the filming,” although apparently one brave pair of Spanx gave its life for art. It fell to “Veep’s” Timothy Simons to step in as the voice of reason:

More Outrage:

Alan Sepinwall, HitFix:

The season was in production well before Allison Williams was cast in “Peter Pan Live!,” but I have to think that had Dunham, Konner and company known about it sooner, they still would have opened with such an explicit Marnie/Desi sex scene, which I think has forever ruined all versions of Peter Pan (even the animated one) for me forever. Thanks, “Girls”!

Amber Dowling, Indiewire:

Marnie said “I love you” in response to Desi’s “I love this” during their sex scene. Poor Marnie, always so quick to hear what she wants to and not actually accept a situation for what it is. Or own up to the terrible thing that she’s doing to Clementine.

Maggie Serota, Decider:

Her arc begins with Desi the shaggy musician’s face buried deep into her ass. After he detaches himself from between her cheeks, he mutters a breathless “I love that,” which Marnie reciprocates with “I love you.” We can pretty much assume that this union will end up in flames.

Joshua Alston, A.V. Club:

I desperately miss the Marnie of season one, back before she became the show’s least endearing character. Marnie has always been judgmental, but in her post-Charlie phase, she’s developed a neediness and insecurity that makes her, as Shosh so accurately put it in “Beach House,” “really unpleasant to be around.” Between Clementine’s mea culpa and the stage meltdown, if the jazz brunch sequence is indicative of Marnie’s arc this season, it’s going to be mighty tough to watch.

Britt Hayes, ScreenCrush:

if you had any hope that Marnie might evolve after her affair with Ray, “Iowa” quickly establishes that Marnie has not changed a bit. One of the few brief scenes in the opening has Marnie hooking up with Desi, only to reveal not long after that Desi has not left his girlfriend, who makes amends with Marnie for her cruel (but not necessarily inaccurate) assessment of Marnie’s behavior. The revelation that Desi is cheating on his girlfriend with Marnie isn’t exactly shocking, but it is infuriating in the sense that Marnie has become perhaps the most willfully troubled character of the group.

Tyler Kane, Paste:

Marnie. She’s going to sing a lot this season, so buckle up. After forming a folk duo with her mega-crush Desi, the two perform at a restaurant “jazz brunch.” Marnie sings a farewell song to Hannah that starts out sweet enough, and it’s the first scene where on-stage Marnie is appropriate and welcome. But a few kids at the restaurant act like—well, little kids at a restaurant. They run, scream, act like little shits. Marnie can’t take the pressure, and she runs crying into the street. Everyone feels bad.

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