BEST EPISODE OF THE BEST SHOW ON TV
Girls Episode 7: Welcome to Bushwick, aka The Crackcident
Lena Dunham continues to hit it out of the park with her HBO hit Girls. The show is a heady mix of brilliant comedy and gritty emotional realism as experienced by coddled and helicoptered Millennials.
The best of the best:
Regular readers know I’ve been guilty of hoping for a happy ever after for Hannah and Adam. My wish came true this week, and it looks like they’re officially BF and GF, if only for a moment.
In Adam, Dunham has created a sympathetic villain. In prior episodes we’ve seen a narcissistic hedonist whose only feelings for Hannah appear to be sexual. The beauty of the writing is that Hannah is every bit as self-absorbed. She is more ruthless in her pursuit of a relationship with Adam than he is in his willingness to sex her up. More ruthless in fact – not only does Adam not text Hannah for sex, he is only intermittently responsive to her overtures.
While it’s been tempting, for me at least, to label Adam a douchebag who only wants one thing, this week Dunham exposed Hannah for her own lack of empathy and her objectification of Adam.
As the show opens, the Girls are arriving at a warehouse party in Bushwick. Though it’s packed with hundreds of young people, Jessa declares the crowd amateur, until she spies one particular guy dancing under a black light, surrounded by girls while throwing one over his shoulder.
Jessa: …although I do love a man who only hangs out with dykes. Look at them – they’re falling all over him like he owns a Home Depot.
Hannah: OK, that’s Adam.
Jessa: He does sort of look like the original man…
Hannah admits (once again) that Adam hasn’t replied to her texts in over two weeks, but sidles over to him in hopes of being seen. He does see her, immediately calling out to her and telling his friends, “You guys, that’s Hannah!”*
*This is our first clue that Hannah has some sort of significance in Adam’s life.
When Tako asks Hannah if she knows Adam through AA, she is surprised when Hannah is clueless, saying that she assumed anyone who knows Adam that well* would know about his alcoholism.
Adam continues to tear up the dance floor, bopping around and being generally ridiculous, clearly having a great time. When Hannah finally does come over to say hi, he greets her warmly with a kiss and spends the rest of the party dancing with her.* (In keeping with his odd sensibilities, he shimmies behind her while shaking her cardigan up and down.)
Though the party is still going strong, Adam invites Hannah to “come with” to the rail yard for scrap metal and they take off on his bike. When Hannah winds up getting thrown from the handlebars she becomes peevish with him.
Hannah: Tako told me that you’re an alcoholic.
Adam: I don’t drink, now.
Hannah: But you’re like in AA, that’s like a whole thing you never told me.
Adam: It’s been a part of my life since I was 17. It’s a big part of my life.
Hannah: …but you never told me!
Adam: You never asked!
Hannah: Was I supposed to fucking guess? Because you don’t really seem like you’re in recovery from much and I think you might be a sex addict.
Adam: You’re right, I may be.
Hannah: Again, that’s shit you should have shared!
Adam: You never asked! You never ask me anything besides “Does this feel OK?” or “Do you like my skirt?” or “How much is your rent?” I’m not gonna fucking talk your ear off about shit you don’t ask me about.
You don’t want to know me. You want to come over in the night and have me fuck the dogshit out of you then you want to leave and write about it in your diary. You don’t want to know me!
Hannah: Do you ever even think about me when I’m not there?
Adam: See?! …Look kid, I don’t know what you want from me. Do you want me to be your boyfriend? Is that it? Do you want me to be your fucking boyfriend?
Cut to cab ride with Hannah looking radiantly happy and satisfied.*
*Fourth and final clue.
Here’s what Dunham had to say about this development:
Although he hasn’t been very good to her, she hasn’t really made an effort to get to know him either. The relationship’s been very much about her and her own perception of herself. In a way, this is very cathartic for them. I loved that idea of, please for just one episode, seeing her overjoyed about what’s going on between them.
Although Hannah and Adam’s quirks are exaggerated for comic effect, the dynamic between them is quite typical. What’s more, many (if not most) of the relationships I’ve observed among people that age has followed a similar path.
Recently I was discussing this with a young woman who went to school with my kids. Nina hadn’t ever had sex casually in college, but recently she met Sam through her social circle. He let it be known that he was interested in her. She could feel him staring at her, could sense his nervousness and his attraction. She also knew that his two prior relationships had become established only after a period of hooking up without strings (as is typical).
She decided to go with it – to try hooking up and see where it would lead. From the start, her intention was to get into a relationship, though she didn’t voice this. They hooked up regularly for about a month, and came to be regarded as “together,” if not official. He told her that he really liked her and wanted to know if she felt the same. She said she did.
The following weekend Sam was friendly, but didn’t single Nina out for any particular attention. Things had obviously cooled off but she didn’t know why. He later told a mutual friend that he felt that things were heating up and he wanted to take a step back. Nina’s response to this was to call a halt – not by telling him, just by making it clear she was done, allowing their connection (and their history) to fade away. Within two weeks they were acting friendly again, as if nothing had ever happened between them.
In describing this, Nina voiced disappointment that her hookup experiment had been a failure. I pointed out that while it might have been doomed in any case, the truth is she pulled the plug after one month. He probably would have taken a break, come back to hook up again, and it wouldn’t have surprised me if at the two month mark they told each other, “I don’t want you f*cking anyone else” and Presto Change-o, official boyfriend and girlfriend!
It may be a back asswards way of connecting with someone, but it’s the norm. Lena Dunham is doing a great job, and a great service, in portraying the reality of relationships today.
In this episode, Dunham strips away all pretense and shows Marnie for the entitled, selfish girl she is. Charlie’s band is playing at the party, and as Marnie arrives, she frets, “I just hope Charlie’s OK seeing me.” Wearing a dress that Dunham describes as being appropriate for a Bar Mitzvah rather than a hipster bash, Marnie watches Charlie’s band Questionable Goods as they’re finishing their set. She observes Charlie with an air of patronizing, wistful nostalgia before approaching him to say hi.
Charlie: It’s nice to see your face.
Marnie: Yeah, I thought it might be…All I ever wanted was for you to be able to find satisfaction outside of our relationship.
Moments later Marnie meets Charlie’s new girlfriend (Go Charlie!) and after pointing out that it’s only been two weeks, accuses him of being a sociopath. That cracked me up – after years of enduring being called “bitch” and “psycho” by exes, women finally have a rejoinder!
Marnie spends the rest of the party boring a bearded hipster to tears with her self-pity, and gets slapped in the face by Hannah’s gay ex after he calls her out on her selfishness and she tells him his singing voice sounds like a sack of crying babies.
Props to Dunham for giving Charlie a happy ending while letting Marnie stew in her narcissism. Scenes from next week show more of the same.
Jessa’s embarrassingly horny employer shows up at the party with a bottle of wine and his Shogun hairdo only to embarrass himself terribly by dancing worse than Elaine from Seinfeld. If Jessa ever found him attractive, she doesn’t any more, so at least we’re spared the pain of seeing the old goat take his clothes off.
There’s a moment of growth for Jessa in this episode – after Jeff begs her to spend the night with him, she takes responsibility for her behavior and realizes how it would be not only pathetic but so very wrong to hook up with this man.
Shoshanna spends two hours alone at the party wearing an outfit that looks like she swiped it from a nursery school dress up box, complete with a two-finger rhinestone ring in the shape of a bow. She proceeds to inadvertently smoke crack (she thought it was pot) and goes completely loco. There’s a funny scene where Ray chases her all over Bushwick in an effort to keep her safe. When he catches her, her sequined skirt is gone and she’s wearing just Spanx. She attacks him in “self defense” and when she realizes her mistake, offers to make amends:
Last semester, I took a Sports Therapy class to meet jocks – it was mostly Indian girls – but I could massage you in a non-sexual way if you want…
Ray and Shosh have a moment, and I’m pretty sure it moved. Zosia Mamet is proving to be the most endearing character on the show, with her huge eyes darting nervously around every time she gets close to a guy.
Lena Dunham owns the topic of Millennial angst as part of the early 21st century zeitgeist. HBO executives were apparently surprised to learn that 60% of the show’s viewers are male. That in itself is a huge accomplishment; Girls may be written by a woman, but she’s got a great handle on what Boys are up against too.