“Weirdos Need Girlfriends Too” is another Girls episode title that contains multitudes. Or at least Marnies, since the title doesn’t just mean romantic girlfriends, but platonic friends too.
Sure, Adam needs a girlfriend — which is interesting, since this didn’t seem true of him in prior episodes, when he spent a lot of time lifting weights (shirtless) and reading books (shirtless) and not particularly caring whether Hannah came and went (also shirtless). He was pretty content with the status quo, or so it appeared. As much credit as I gave Dunham and the show for nailing Adam’s specific style of twentysomething pretension and indifference toward women with crushes on him, I have to give Girls even more for flipping the script. I think many of us look back on the Adams we “dated” in our twenties and wonder what would have happened if we’d just blown up: “You treat me like ass! It hurts! Commit or fuck off!” Granted, it’s Adam who went there, but hat tip to the show for realizing that that subplot had to do something different in order to continue existing.
And now that he’s Hannah’s boyfriend, per the end of the last episode, it’s as though that’s what Adam’s wanted all along — closeness, companionship, with one person. He convinces Hannah to go jogging with him, joking around to motivate her, buying her ice cream after she lies down and pulls her shoes off in protest. He brings her along to a tech rehearsal for his play (and corrects her gently on theater terminology), and allows her to witness his selfish meltdown, then screams at a driver who almost hits her in a crosswalk. He listens patiently when Marnie is obsessing over Charlie’s trip to Rome with his new girlfriend Audrey — more patiently than Hannah, in fact — and chides Hannah for not taking Marnie’s profound feelings of hurt seriously.
In short, Adam is . . . kind of shockingly perfect at boyfriend-dom. Hannah is more relaxed, holds herself less rigid, is having a way better time in bed with him (at least, if the orgasms a revolted Marnie is forced to endure through their paper-thin walls are any indication)—everything’s great. So, of course I spent most of the episode waiting for the other shoe to drop, even if Hannah didn’t.
What drops isn’t exactly a shoe: joining Hannah uninvited in the shower, Adam stares at her creepily, smears conditioner on her in an unappealingly serial-killerish way, then feels comfortable enough with her to start peeing in the shower with her standing two feet away, which sends Hannah screaming out into the apartment. (I would have run screaming at all the soap scum and mildew, myself, but I’m an old lady.) This, after Adam has an existential tantrum about the play he’s doing, and quits on the project two days before the show, leaving his friend and co-star Gavin in the lurch after Gavin spent thousands to mount the play.
Eventually, after a highly off-putting exchange in which he and Hannah debate which is more important, integrity or getting a valuable writing credit, while wearing union suits, Adam relents—he agrees to do the play. But he tells Hannah this after rousting her out of bed in the middle of the night to see all the signs he’s pasted to a neighborhood wall that read “SORRY” — Adam’s apology to a driver he’d yelled at earlier. Hannah is finally realizing that Adam isn’t perfect, or any better than she is; he’s a mix of adorable and clueless and insightful and self-absorbed, the same as anyone else.
And the same as Hannah, of course, and Marnie is already utterly fed up with New Relationship Hannah: the sex through the walls, the bailing on plans with friends to hang out with Adam instead, the overly apologetic response when she’s called on it. And because Hannah’s busy with a new relationship, Marnie can’t confide her about the other new relationship that’s bugging her: Charlie’s, with his new girlfriend Audrey, which Marnie is following obsessively via his Facebook photo feed, and using to flagellate herself for her own shortcomings. What’s worse, Marnie is forced to complain to Jessa about Charlie, and everything else, because Hannah’s not around. (Or she is, but she’s having noisy sex that Marnie has to slam her closet door repeatedly to protest.)
Jessa, who practically has “FREE SPIRIT” tattooed on her forehead, is probably the last person Marnie wants to confess to about her own uptightness and lack of spontaneity. But Jessa is there, just by chance, listening patiently, snarking encouragingly about Hannah’s boyfriend-related absences and makeup-application failures and how weird Adam is, telling Marnie she looks like Brooke Shields. Marnie is reluctant to open up, but finally admits that she knows she’s the uptight one—and she hates it.
“Being inside my own head is so exhausting that it makes me want to cry”—a great line from Marnie, and obviously true for the character, which is what saves Marnie from presenting as a 2D bitch rather than a real (if often irritating) person.
Jessa volunteers to get Marnie out of her head, so they get gussied up and go out for martinis. A promising cutie (Chris O’Dowd of Bridesmaids) sends over another round—well, Marnie thinks he’s promising; Jessa thinks he’s boring—and invites them back to his place to show off his pricey red wine, expensively sterile furniture, and inept and painfully sincere DJ “skills.” Marnie responds to her surroundings, for some reason, by starting to make out with Jessa; when the two of them don’t let O’Dowd join in, then spill wine on his hideous shag carpet, O’Dowd goes off on a rant: Don’t they know what it is to work for a living? Do they know how spoiled they are?
The scene goes on too long, and I don’t know that I believe the girls would have kept sitting there while O’Dowd yelled at them for what felt like 15 minutes — but it makes its points. This weirdo needs a girlfriend, to be impressed with his CB2-catalog apartment and taste in red wine, to help him feel less lonely in Brooklyn. And Marnie and Jessa need each other, to save each other from guys like O’Dowd when things get weird or scary. (Not that Jessa’s intimidated, of course; while yanking Marnie out of O’Dowd’s apartment, she sneers that she’s going to go down on Marnie out on the sidewalk.) (…She isn’t. I’d kind of love it if she did, just to mess with Marnie’s head a little, Booth-Jonathan-style, but most intra-straight-girls make-outs have nothing to do with anything.)
The episode nails the giddy-get-to-know-you part of the New Relationship for the participants—viz. Hannah and Adam looking at his home movies, or the only-funny-to-them “she’ll show you her tits for an ice-cream cone”/”just kidding, I have five dollars” exchange—but also how exasperating and saccharine it can be from the outside. Marnie doesn’t even feign happiness for Hannah, just resents Hannah’s contentment and failure to fulfill friendship duties. (Jessa finds it more annoying than hurtful; it’s more about Hannah not being available to hang out than it is Hannah not listening.) It’s not all that attractive on Marnie’s part, but her “how could you go and get a boyfriend at a time like this?!” attitude is totally familiar. Still, it’s nice to see the relationship between Marnie and Jessa move forward—at least for now.
But I think we’re headed for an ugly Marnie/Hannah showdown; each of these weirdos needs her best girlfriend, and they’ve been like ships in the night the last few episodes. Things may come to a head next week when rent comes due once more…
Sarah D. Bunting co-founded TelevisionWithoutPity.com, and has written for Seventeen, New York Magazine, MSNBC.com, Salon, Yahoo!, and others. She’s the chief cook and bottle-washer at TomatoNation.com.