Tuesday, February 26, 2013

It's Time to Get Back to the Basics

Wanna know why, contrary to the opinion of most others, I didn't refer to Episode 5: One Man's Trash as the worst episode in the history of the series? Because I needed to save room for a potentially worse episode. This was that episode. In even simpler terms, this did not make for good televesion. Sunday night premium cable series that only run 12 episodes in a season do not get the luxury of having multiple filler episodes in a single season. That's for shitty network TV. GIRLS has now had 2 of these in the last 3 weeks. Believe me, there were more entertaining things I could have been watching on Sunday. Let's get into the episode, but know that I'm not done railing yet.

After a season and half of flighty behavior, Jessa's character is now being explained. Even before her dad appears, it's clear that he's the genesis of Jessa's flaky and unpredictable ways. Naming one of your kids Lemon, filling your station wagon with computers from the mid 80s, and living with a woman who's of the belief that we're all living inside a giant video game (because scientists are liars) is definitely enough to royally fuck up your daughter. Things might turn out ok though. Hannah is undergone a major metamorphasis: from "wound" to "cushion". They might make it through this weekend yet.

There isn't really all that much to do in the upper reaches of those sleepy Hudson River towns, other than look at vintage Penthouse (under rated activity) and eat the family pets, is there? So it stands to reason that once dinner is through, it's time for a little joy ride. Frank and his "friend" Tyler take Hannah and Jessa on tour of the country, complete with hairpin turns, whip-its, and stunt driving. Hannah gets to be the normal one for once and begs out of the car before there's a serious accident. But that's about where Hannah's level thinking ends. Before long, she's allowing Frank to jizz in her leg fat crease, smack in the middle of a grave yard.

This episode isn't about Hannah though, it's about Jessa. We learn that Jessa has already blown off her past 6 visits with her dad and that she's fully aware she and her family aren't "like other people". But are these explanations or excuses? Jessa expresses her disappointment in her father's inability to stay put, be reasonable, and act as an example of good behavior for her. All fair criticisms. However, if Jessa is able to recognize and correctly evaluate these things as character flaws, how does she have no ability to make changes in her own life? There's a clear cognitive dissonance here. It's incongruous to demand that her father suddenly become more responsible when she demands to be permitted her own free spirit ways. Is your life style a curse or a choice, Jessa? It can't be both. There's one other problem with this scene, as well. While it's a nice moment and does a good deal to explain Jessa's character, wouldn't it have been more impactful if, oh I dunno, she was actually in this season? What possible emotions can we be expected to feel for somebody who has been pushed aside as fringe character? Not to mention that Jessa's grand solution, when confronted with the ghosts of her past and abandonment issues and irresponsibility is to...run away. Brilliant. Not interesting.

GIRLS needs to make two major adjustments and they need to be made quickly if the show has any desire to recapture its appeal from Season 1.

1) Stop grossing out the viewing public, simply for the sake of grossing out the viewing public. I can watch 2 Girls, 1 Cup on the internet if I ever have that burning desire. (No link, you'll have to use Google). Listen, I get why Hannah went naked in the first season. Not all women have model bodies and it was a healthy expression of realistic female sexuality and all that shit. I get it. After that, Hannah's nudity came in waves. It was a real legit middle finger to all the critics who demanded that she put her clothes back on. I get that, too. That's fine. But now that people are seemingly ok with it, and even commending her for her bravery, who do I need to watch her bent over naked, pissing blood with a UTI? Seriously...what is being added to the show? What is being accomplished? I know it's not funny or amusing to guys. If it's some inside joke just for the girls, doesn't that go against what made the show interesting to begin with? Wasn't this supposed to be a show that all 20-somethings could relate to? Isn't that why I started blogging about it in the first place?

2) Get back to reality. The charm of Season 1 was that it was truly believable most of the time. Awkward relationships, getting dosed at a party, struggling to pay rent...these are the things that 20-somethings can relate to. We finally had a show that presented urban yuppie life for what it was (more or less). Most 24 year olds don't eat at places like this on a weekly basis or live in apartments that look like this. GIRLS started out honest. It was representative. It felt believable. Holing up with 40 year old divorce doctors and traveling to the sticks to bang 19 year old homosexuals in cemeteries does not feel representative. Or believable. Or entertaining.

In fact, it's about as honest as losing your virginity to Rihanna.

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