Season 2, Episode 3: “Bad Friend”
The first season of “Girls” was both entertaining and refreshing simply by the virtue of Lena Dunham‘s voice, which found a milieu of New York City life for young women that was perhaps more real and honest than anything we’ve seen on television in quite some time. Spanning flawed to fabulous, sometimes in the same episode, these characters were not only three dimensional and complex, so too were the episodes around them, which rarely fell back on novelty gimmicks. Which makes “Bad Friend” all the more disappointing because it not only revisits a device Dunham and co. have already used — wacky drug adventure! — but does so in order to simply fast-forward a major reveal to Hannah (which you can probably guess). That said, when it’s still as entertaining as this, we can’t be too hard on it.
Okay, so the line between crack and cocaine is pretty much all about how you consume it, but yes, we’ve been down this road before. In the first season, it’s Shoshanna who accidentally tries crack and ends up having one helluva night, and this time it’s Hannah with cocaine, albeit the circumstances are a bit different. As the show opens, Hannah is interviewing for the hilariously named web magazine hatejazz (yep, all lowercase) where they promise a whopping $200 per article. In what is an obvious and pretty funny dig at the kind of stuff Vice does, the editor tosses out story suggestions such as having a threesome and writing about it, or doing a bunch of cocaine and sharing what happens. When Hannah reveals she’s never done cocaine, the editor says that’s an even better foundation for a story.
But where does one get cocaine? Lucky for Hannah, a junkie lives downstairs. How does she know this? Marnie has talked to him near the mailboxes and he told her, while Shosanna casually, but confidently, confirms that the junkies in her building also hang out by the mailboxes. And once again, it’s another all too brief moment we get with one of the show’s best characters, though she also quickly shares that Ray has been keeping her up by watching reruns of “Ally McBeal” all night.
And so, Hannah goes to see junkie Laird (Jon Glaser) to try and procure some cocaine, and he surprises her with the news that he’s now clean. But he agrees to hook her up anyway, because he’s always wanted to do something for Hannah, and soon she’s back in her apartment snorting cocaine with Elijah who wants to have a night “where it’s 5 AM and one us has definitely punched someone that’s been on a Disney Channel show.” (Andrew Rannells continues to be amazing.) But from here on out, it’s pretty predictable stuff. They both manically share their wishes and dreams, and then head out dancing — Elijah picks out an outfit for Hannah “inspired by a girl I went to middle school with who fucked both her uncle and her stepdad” — and it’s what you’d expect. We’ve seen this behavior in countless other movies and TV shows, but again, both Dunham and Rannells are so game that you’re still compelled.
Meanwhile, Marnie runs into modern artist Booth Jonathan (Jorma Taccone) once again, who as you’ll remember from season one, made it more than clear he was aiming to fuck her. He drags her from her hostess gig at the club, and takes her back to his warehouse space/home, showing her his pretty shitty work, though she is somewhat impressed after casting him off as a Damien Hirst ripoff. To finish up the tour of his place and work, he literally locks her inside a sculpture of TVs playing horrible images of babies crying, maggots and howling animals in what he calls his best piece. After making an espresso and checking his email, he finally lets her out, and we don’t know any situation wherein a woman would stick around after that dick move, but not only does Marnie stay, she lets him fuck her. We didn’t exactly buy the moment, but it perhaps suggests that Marnie’s self esteem truly is circling the bowl.
Of course, the drug fueled adventure winds up with Elijah revealing to Hannah his sexual dalliance with Marnie, which leads to an inevitable showdown. Laird, who has been quietly following Hannah all night and looking out for her (another oddball development that is a bit out of left field), joins her and Elijah in going to Booth’s. And again, Dunham takes this cliche moment and makes it sing, with Hannah’s “Bad friend” speech a powerful moment. She calls out Marnie for actively doing something she knew would hurt her, and the fear that her former best friend has in her face of losing Hannah is palpable. It certainly elevates an otherwise boilerplate show.
Hannah leaves with Laird, but not before informing Elijah that he’ll be moving out too, and when they return to the apartment, Hannah and Laird make out in the hallway. But only for that night, to give Hannah some material for her story.
Again, “Best Friend” is odd entry for “Girls,” one that feels lackluster in its approach, but still a lot of fun in its execution. But knowing that “Girls” can do better still makes it a bit harder to swallow. [B-]
Songs in this episode: Stevie R “Spoiled Child”; Count Five “Psychotic Reaction”; Duncan Sheik “Barely Breathing”; Dirty Vegas “Little White Doves”; Eve “Tambourine”; Icona Pop ft. Charli XCX “I Love It”; Kreasyshawn “Bumpin Bumpin”; Grouplove “Everyone’s Gonna Get High”