Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Sex, Cries, and Ping Pong Paddle Tape

It's been tough sledding for GIRLS on the ratings front the last two weeks. First going head to head with the Super Bowl and now the Grammys. No matter. Lena Dunham got to watch boyfriend Jack Antonoff (guitarist for the band Fun.) perform live on stage and then take home some hardware too. Fun. fact: before dating Dunham, Antonoff was with Scarlett Johansson. I shit you not. Talk about a nosedive down the pecking order. Another Fun. fact: the band decided to go with a period instead of an exclamation point in their name because, as lead singer Nate Ruess puts it "we're so boring that paint watches US dry." Only one of those facts is made up, try to guess which one. But that's neither here nor there. Never afraid to bare all, Dunham seemed determined to upstage the Grammys in more ways than two.

This episode really seemed to rub people the wrong way. I've received more texts and phone calls from friends regarding this episode than all the other ones combined. While the near unanimous assertion is that this was the worst episode in the history of the series, I do not agree. I do however think that it reeked desperately of self-seriousness and it tried way too hard to win some sort of recognition as the most profound 30 minutes in television history. It wasn't. It was far from it. Sometimes when you reach too much for the accolades, you fall flat. And that's what this felt like.

When Patrick Wilson (who is now sure to be a household name) enters Grumpy's with a rather benign request, he is met with Ray's hostility. Maybe Shosh isn't helping him relieve his tension as much as he'd like. Maybe Hannah's fleshy thighs put him in a horrid mood. Maybe Ray just loves having his trash in other people's cans. Whatever the reason for Ray's emotional outburst, Hannah is so appalled that she quits on the spot (or at least "quits" for the day) and head's straight to the customer's house to apologize. 

Racked with guilt, Hannah comes clean and admits that she is in fact the Trash Bandit. Joshua is amused by her earnestness and recognizes that, while inconvenient, the whole episode was a rather victimless crime. Despite the fact that he's a hard 10 and you should never stoop more than 2 points, Joshua accepts Hannah's advances. Hannah has now spanned the entire spectrum from brownstone owning doctors to semi-recovering heroin addicts, further illustrating the point that any girl can sleep with any guy, just so long as she wants to.

Here is where the episode starts to get slightly interesting. Their late afternoon romp turns into a full blown 2 day love affair. Hannah and Joshua play hookie from work and enjoy 36 hours of naked ping pong, sex, more naked ping pong, reading the paper, steaks, and other run-of-the-mill weekday activities. In a new twist, Hannah seems truly happy, and more importantly, comfortable. Comfort and stability are always elusive for the 20-something crowd and Hannah is now experiencing it all for the first time. But the comfort and whimsical dreams of a different life are fleeting.

As Hannah wakes up from her steam shower induced coma, she begins to sob uncontrollably. An epiphany hits her when she least expects it. All the things that she's mocked, that she's written about, that she's snarkily judged, these are the things she actually covets. Hannah is smart and sensitive but she is also lonely and poor. All college graduates want more for themselves and more poignantly they expect more of themselves. For some it's working for a noble cause instead of a boring 9-5, for others it's insane wealth that gives them the freedom to pursue their interests, but what Hannah realizes is that she has none of it. No fridge stock piled with food. No lemonade in crystal glasses. No installation of a solarium to look forward to. No job that makes a difference for anybody. Certainly no automated electronic steam shower. She might be a clever writer who wants to disavow the creature comforts through clever prose. But she's not special, she isn't unique, and she's certainly done nothing to earn those things. The realization hits her like a ton of proverbial bricks.

Hannah's blissful nonchalance is quickly (and correctly) re calibrated in Joshua's eyes into flakey-ness. Hannah emotionally unravels right in front of Joshua and although he does his best job to calm her and ease her anxiety, it's clear that this pseudo relationship is already dead to rights. As a pity present, Joshua allows her to stay one more night but when she wakes in the morning, Hannah realizes she's alone in the house. After taking out the trash and making the bed, Hannah leaves the brownstone and walks down the street alone as she's ever been. All she has is a ringing reminder rattling around in her skull of what could have been, a fleeting taste of what she really wants, and the painful realization that she is nowhere near ready for it.


  1. http://www.buzzfeed.com/lyapalater/patrick-wilsons-wife-puts-the-lena-dunham-controversy-to-res

  2. separate from everything else about this episode, I'd like to point out that Lena Dunham appeared to pay homage to the decade long, one time 'show of it's generation'-- "FRIENDS" -- with the Joshua vs Josh reference.

    In the Friends' episode titled "Rachel's Crush" Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) was a personal shopper at Bloomingdales & fell for one of her clients, Joshua. There was that whole thing about Rachel finding his name so beautiful, repeating it aloud, pronouncing it Josh-UA, rather than just plain Joshua.

    Very different from the "GIRLS" Josh vs. Joshua conflct, but somehow, I get the vibe that there was an ode in there.

  3. Ah yes, who could forget Josh-UA http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Q4KGfmC5Ss