Season 1, Episode 5: “Hard Being Easy”
If last week saw “Girls” slip into sitcom territory, this latest episode again sees Lena Dunham and co. delivering another somewhat uneven offering, one that again finds Hannah (Dunham) and Marnie (Allison Wlliams) as the central focus, while Jessa (Jemima Kirke) and Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet) are relegated to some flimsy, and otherwise insubstantial b-plot. Say what you will about “Sex & The City,” but the writers there at least built four pretty well realized and equally balanced lives around the quartet of women, something that “Girls” is still managing to figure out.
The story picks up the day after the events from last week, with Charlie (Christopher Abbott) still fuming over the entry in Hannah’s diary about his relationship with Marnie. It’s hardly a surprise that they break up, but it is a bit eye-opening that Marnie wants to win him back. Putting on her best looking outfit, she seeks out Charlie’s best friend Ray (Alex Karpovsky) to find out, embarrassingly, where he lives. That’s right, for all their time dating, Marnie never once went to Charlie’s apartment. Ray is appropriately, and hilariously, stand off-ish, but ultimately lets her know where to find him.
Meanwhile, Hannah heads back to work where her ass being grabbed by her boss is a regular part of the job. Sharing the story with Jessa, the wordly European doesn’t exactly see what the problem is as she finds that behaviour more flattering than offensive, and she half jokingly/half seriously encourages Hannah to sleep with her boss. It would at the very least make for a good story. And thus Hannah, who as we know is petrified of STDs and is in a rocky, somewhat enigmatic relationship with Adam (Adam Driver), endeavors to do just that. And while she’ll later explain why she does this, it doesn’t quite feel believable and seems wholly out of step with the Hannah we’ve come to know thus far. It plays more like a Jessa move, and while the sequence is somewhat comedic (her boss turns her down), it doesn’t feel organic to the show or the character. And that the boss takes it with good humor — even after the threat of a lawsuit — makes this whole subplot feel like it’s from another show entirely.
However, Marnie’s trip to Charlie’s apartment, and their subsequent talk, will be bracingly real for anyone who has gone through a difficult breakup where complicated emotions are involved. Begging Charlie not to leave with her, it quickly becomes evident how much Marnie took him for granted. While the outside of his apartment is dodgy to say the least, inside, Charlie has used his woodworking skills to turn the studio in a beautiful showcase of minimal design and efficiency with some gorgeous shelving units. Marnie is amazed. So are we. But as they chat, it becomes clear that she didn’t really know him at all. She’s surprised to learn he watches porn, and in her bid to win him back she offers to give him blowjobs, which we presume she had been witholding. But the sticking point is whether or not she loves him — Marnie says she does, but Charlie has his doubts….
Oh yeah, back to Jessa and Shoshanna. So, Jessa gets all dolled up to go meet an ex-boyfriend who is in town and wants to catch up and — shocker — they go back to her place to fuck. After they’ve finished, Jessa turns around to discover that Shosanna was in the apartment and watched it all unfold. Ha ha. And that’s about it for the two of them. Shoshanna’s role this week is essentially an aghast reaction shot — we really wish these two would get more to do, particularly as Jessa is turning into one of the most charming reasons to watch “Girls.”
Meanwhile, Hannah and Adam once again have a cagey encounter, one that begins with anger and some bitterness and ends with Hannah watching Adam jerk off as they enter a game of dirty talk that is as much about their relationship as his oddball sexual proclivities. Back at Charlie’s, talk has turned into sex, and as they fuck, he explains to Marnie what he wants if they get back together. She agrees with everything, but when he says “I love you,” Marnie delivers the crushing final blow that puts an end once and for all to what they had. If she couldn’t rip his heart out any further, she crushes it here inadvertently, finally being honest with herself about how she feels.
It’s only Marnie’s throughline here that delivers the same level of genuine experience as the first three episodes of “Girls,” but even though wobbly, the program is still leagues above most other shows on the dial about women. But this need to deliver comedy at the expense of scenarios that feel real and true to the characters involved is warping “Girls” somewhat. One wonders how much was cut out or changed in editing, not only given the slim storylines for Jessa and Shoshanna, but also for guest stars Kathryn Hahn and James LeGros who get all of one very brief throwaway scene — one is beginning to wonder if a full hour might give “Girls” the room it needs to breathe. The next couple episodes are futher attempts to place the chracters in “situations” and while both have mixed results, there is a better handle on both the drama and comedy, making the balance much less jarring. But at the same time, “Girls” might want to think about changing its name to “Hannah & Marnie.” [B-]
Songs in this episode: Sleigh Bells “Infinity Guitars”; Jonny Polonsky “In My Mind”; The Knife “Heartbeats”; Scissor Sisters “Take Your Mama Out”; Belle & Sebastian “I Don’t Love Anyone.”