Girls Season 2 Arrives, Flawed but Still Fabulous
"I'm sorry I have a boner. It's not for you."
And so, Season 2 of Girls begins, exactly as we want it to -- inappropriately. At the end of Season 1, we saw Hannah's gay ex-boyfriend Elijah making plans to move in with her, Marnie struggling to find her place after her break-up with Charlie and exit from living with Hannah. Shoshanna lost her virginity (finally!) to Ray, Jessa married Thomas-John -- a man she had known for approximately three minutes, and Hannah's lovable ape of a boyfriend, Adam, got hit by a truck and called her a monster.
So where are we now?
Well, before opening credits even roll, we know things are on a downward spiral for Marnie (she gets "downsized" at her art gallery job) and things go from bad to worse later on when, spurred on by a bout of impassioned karaoke, she has a drunken and fumbled sexual encounter with Elijah. Which doesn't work out because, yes, he's still gay, actually.
Things have also not worked out so well for Shoshanna and Ray. In minute two, she is seen burning sage in her bedroom and asking the universe to ruin his life, but by the end of the episode, they've managed a reconciliatory, passionate make-out sesh that we hope leads to more of the same. We like these two weirdos together.
Hannah is having an equally confusing time of things, thanks to the fact that Adam is, post-accident, clinging to her and pushing her away in equal measure, while she is also attempting to maintain a romance with new guy, Sandy, who is handsome, kind, chases her around bookstores and happens to be played by Troy from Community (yes!).
Jessa and Thomas-John sadly only appear in the last couple of minutes of the episode, having just returned from honeymoon, loved-up, giggling, and making out in a cab. We can't wait to see more of them.
So, is our re-introduction to the Girls' lives all we had hoped it would be? Well, pre-show reviews from critics across the board have expressed disappointment with the first few episodes of Season 2. The complaints have all been similar -- the flow of the show doesn't feel as natural as Season 1; the characters are still too self-obsessed to truly care about; and a balance hasn't yet been struck between keen, witty dialogue, and realism. Each and every review we've read has also stated that things don't get truly great until Episode 4.
Having gone into Episode 1 with all that criticism and critical disappointment in mind, we were actually very pleasantly surprised. It's true that cramming so many plot-catch-up points into this half hour, leave the episode feeling a little scattered and under-developed. But it also leaves us excited for what is to come because there are so many paths these characters could take now. Also, as far as we're concerned, the very flaws of the personalities on the show are exactly why we love them -- it enables us to laugh at them, as well as with them. We don't watch Girls to see a bunch of perfect humans, after all.
It's also worth noting that there is some extraordinary (and remarkably subtle) comic acting on display here. In one scene, Christopher Abbott, as Charlie, is trying to convince his ex, Marnie, that everything is fine in his new relationship with bohemian live-wire, Audrey. In it, he takes some incredibly mundane dialogue ("Aw, man.
It's been so great with her. It's like, everyday is, like, a new day.
Y'know, we just, meet up, when she gets off work, and then I see her and
she has all these things to say all the time. And I do too, y'know? And
it's always new things, never repetitive...") and transforms it into a laugh-out-loud funny, extremely revealing moment.
Hannah too -- played by Girls creator, director, and producer, Lena Dunham -- is just as hilarious when throwing Elijah's wasted boyfriend out of their house party. "George,
if you would just go away, I think you'll realize in the morning how
silly this was," she attempts to reason, as he hammers on her front door angrily. "We can all laugh about it ... over a bowl of ... crisps."
There are also some fantastic one-liners in this episode. Hannah says of a dress she's already been wearing for half her party: "I don't wanna wear this. It makes me feel like a stupid sailor nun." Shoshanna, trying to adjust to a life as a non-virgin: "I may be deflowered, but I am not devalued." And the coarseness of the dialogue remains refreshingly realistic for the most part. Even the oft-prudish Marnie says things like, "I could never be a gay man -- I hate giving blow jobs and having anal sex. I assume."
The only area in which we were truly frustrated in this episode is related to Adam. He spent the first half of Season 1 treating Hannah abhorrently, only to have her chase and pine for him. By the end of that season, we had grown to love him, having learned that his bizarre behavior was a symptom of his deep sensitivity and troubled soul. In last night's episode, we saw him treating Hannah like crap, but also laying his feelings out on the table for her -- "You're the best thing in my life. I don't know how to behave without you. I'd die if you go away" -- only to have her tell him bluntly, "I don't want to be with you."
It simply doesn't line up with the dynamic we have come to enjoy from these two -- not because Adam is allowing himself to be emotionally vulnerable (he was already doing that at the end of Season 1), but rather that we got used to seeing Hannah pull closer to Adam every time he was abusive. We just don't believe that his hostile behavior in this episode -- including him moodily forcing her to help him use a bed pan -- would be the last straw for Hannah. Especially when he's finally expressing love for her at the same time. ("When you love someone, you don't have to be nice to them all the time," he says at one point.)
We remain hopeful that this will all be resolved, however. Episode 1 felt like a sample plate -- little tasters and clues as to what's in store for the rest of the second season of Girls. The humor is still there; the character complexities are still there; and the general messiness of early 20-something life is most definitely still there. As with any revelatory and revolutionary show, the critics will be harder than necessary at times. Girls raised the bar last season and the bar remains extraordinarily high now. There may be a few kinks while the show develops, sure, but it doesn't change the fact that this is still one of the most important TV shows of the entire decade.