Tuesday, March 19, 2013

That's All Folks

We've all been there. An isolated irregular heart beat or a weird discolored skin patch sets off a frantic Web MD downward spiral. But then we get bored and go back to watching whatever is on TV. Hannah can't turn it off though, and she can now add "paranoid hypochondriac" to her list of ailments that are slowly unraveling her. When David calls and demands the rest of her pages by the end of the day, it dawns on Hannah for the first time that she's in breach of contract. So, she calls her dad for advice (read: money) to get her out of her latest jam, but doesn't exactly get the response she was looking for. Up to this point, we always kinda-sorta feel bad for the way Hannah's parents have treated her. She's kept at arms length, they completely cut her off financially, and they hang up the phone when she calls them from upstate New York. But now we get it. They've seen this movie one too many times and have finally decided they're over it. 

Marnie on the other hand, is living life to the fullest. She just gets to kick back, get her box munched and enjoy weekend brunch with her new and improved boyfriend. In the last year, it stands to reason that Charlie was just slaying girls left and right, all of whom were smitten by the fact that he was designing screens for a TBD iPhone app. Because that's how girls do. No matter, Marnie gets to reap the benefits with an upgraded Charlie v. 2.0. Charlie isn't only more sexually mature, he's also wisened up a bit, and puts Marnie on notice that she shouldn't expect to waltz right back in to where they left off. Doing this, Charlie is at last able to get the response out of Marnie that he'd been looking for during the entirety of their relationship: an apology and the acknowledgement that she actually loves him...and his money. We'll see how long this cash-grubbing ho sticks around once he gets sued for IP theft

If Ray wants to keep Shoshanna, he needs to stop dicking around, and fast. His lack of ambition has become a "real issue". So, he heads to work on his day off to tell his boss he's going back to school. Or at least he tries to quit. Instead of returning home to Shoshanna with a degree in Latin studies and a Big Brown Bag filled with pastry shaped clutches, Ray comes back with a promotion. As Brooklyn Heights' newest coffee shop manager, surely Ray has done enough to impress Shoshanna. But not so much. Turns out the problem isn't really Ray's overall ambition, but more his entire life outlook, shitty personality, lack of self awareness, black soul, et. al. He even hates colors, pillows, and ribbons, so I mean, like, really...come on.

As if Hannah's plunge couldn't get any worse, her behavior becomes even more dramatic and insane. Hiding under her bed from Marnie is exceedingly normal compared to the rest of her afternoon. Within a few hours, she's cutting off her own hair and then soliciting help from her drug attic neighbor Laird to complete the look: a retro-chic bowl cut/mullet. When this doesn't prove to be enough drama for her personal taste, Hannah faux faints and begs Laird not to rape her...like last time. More amused than offended by her ludicrous and delusional accusation, Laird calls her the single most self involved and presumptuous person he's ever met, before he walks out and leaves her to deal with her own shitty problems. Getting dressed down by a drug attic loner should be enough of a wake up call for most, but that's clearly not gonna get it done for Hannah. Not yet, at least.

The only person that can help her, the only one that can shake her from her current nightmare state, is the only person who can match her unique brand of weirdness. It's not gonna be her parents who no longer want the responsibility. It's not gonna be Marnie, from who Hannah is too embarrassed to seek help. Who the fuck knows where Jesse is, so she's out. Even Laird doesn't have a desire to sexually assault her. It can only be Adam. His spot is as soft for Hannah as ever, and he's most likely tired of having to go through Occupational Sex Therapy with his new girlfriend anyway. Missionary just ain't his style. Adam immediately identifies something is seriously wrong with Hannah, even before seeing her OCD twitches, so he springs into immediate action. Running through the streets of Brooklyn only half dressed, dodging in and out of traffic, miraculously using FaceTime even without access to a WiFi network, Adam arrives at Hannah's apartment and kicks in the door. Sweeping her into her arms and holding her like the princess he believes she is he tells her "I was always here" as the season comes to a close and we can firmly believe that everything will be OK.

A lot of people I spoke to did not like this season very much. Many of those same people did however like this episode and thought it brought the season to an acceptable close. One friend asked me yesterday "So what'd you think about last night's episode?". I'll paste my response below, verbatim, rather than try to articulate some synopsis with a grander and more elaborate point to make.

Unfortunately, while it was a "feel good" episode it kinds of just became the same thing as every other show. The whole momentum and cult following they picked up from the first season, of being a true representation of relationships and the lives of 20 somethings kind of fell apart this year. It all culminated in that final episode. Rather than continue on the path set in that first season, the show devolved into a typical ending from any Rom Com, thusly, being a show that is not worth blogging about anymore.       
It's been real, everybody. 

Mad Men in just a couple weeks and guess who's pumped...    

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

"Breathe & Stop"

In the penultimate episode of Season 2, it appears Adam has finally been domesticated. Between the Sandra Bullock rom-coms, the happy-go-lucky smiles, and the freedom from Hannah, Adam has found some inner peace. Even if he isn't allowed to cum inside Natalia, even if she doesn't like being on top, and even if she is the good two shoes girlfriend from Swimfan, these things don't matter that much because Adam is no longer feral. And as we know, nothing bad can ever happen when you try to lock up a wild animal.

Hannah on the other hand, hasn't exactly found quite the same level of serenity. Her OCD ticks have become volcanic in their volatility, her editor hates the work she's submitted for her ebook, and she's being asked to seriously consider naming her work "Life on My Back". As if this all isn't enough to put her meltdown into full fledged overdrive, she's got a chunk of wood sticking an inch out of her ass and a Q-Tip (sorry, I just couldn't resist) jammed straight into her brain stem. At this point, we've gotten used to seeing Hannah in varying states of discomfort, but this is an entirely different scenario. The extreme anguish and absolute, painful misery painted across her face at the hospital is a new low for our star character. This is what we call rock bottom.

At Charley's "Congrats-to-Me-and-My-20,000-Average-Monthly-Users-Party", Ray is decidedly unimpressed by the fare...and Shosh is unimpressed by Ray's lack of enthusiasm. The end to this immature relationship is frighteningly close. Even putting aside the fact that Shosh is a cheat, her opinion of Ray has changed as well. He's no longer the mysterious and intriguing intellect. He's just kind of a dick. While that may be desirable for about half the female dating population, it certainly isn't her style. Even when she finally confesses to Ray about her romp with the doorman, his blind love and acceptance of this fact, provides what seems to be the final nail in the coffin. I can't really blame her. Ray is dead weight and all washed up, and she still has the majority of her 20's to look forward to. She can't be held back from new prospects. She's even patrolling for some new ass at the party and lands on a goober who would seemingly love to spend late nights with her at trendy restaurants with all the other New York City douche bags who Instagram their appetizers.

If this was where the party started to wind down, the night could still be considered salvageable. However, Marnie has other plans. Following her (brand new) life long dream of becoming a singer, she uses Charley's work party as her audition tape. Charley's work associates are less than entertained by her sonata remix of Stronger which I find rather surprising. I've been to a handful of dull pizza parties in varying offices and I've yet to see anybody do an impromptu karaoke. If I had, I would think people would have the decency to be amused by it, rather than just exchange blank death stares, but, fucking hipsters. Before you write off Marnie too quickly though, it looks like the girl is dumb like a fox. Her stunt gets Charley back, and if you think that was just some fortuitous consequence of her public embarrassment, then you clearly don't know Marnie well enough. That shit was manipulation at it's finest.

At another party, an engagement party to be precise, Natalia brings Adam around to meet her friends and socialize. It's definitely not Adam's scene (because people and full sets of clothes are present) so once his only option becomes small talk schmoozing, he decides to go get some air. If he had only walked outside 30 seconds later, everything could have been different. But on this particular night, at that particular moment, fate intervenes and Hannah strolls by. At her lowest moment, seeing Adam is enough to make everything a-ok again. She lights up when she sees him and squints out tears of nostalgia when he calls her "kid". That's all she gets from him though. Adam is over her, happily in a relationship, and has no interest in catching up with her. He leaves her alone outside, and returns to the party, clearly unflappable. Adam is rattled BIG TIME. So much so that he falls directly off the wagon for the first time in years. As Adam continues to get sawced, the night becomes a blur of dancing, drinking, crawling on the floor, rim jobs, rough sex, and his take on a Jackson Pollack painting. I will say, the last time I actually saw semen pictured in TV or (non pornographic) film was many years ago. So that was refreshing.

Heading into the season finale, every character has regressed to their Season 1 roots. Charley and Marnie are likely to end up back together. Jessa is nowhere to be found. Shosh and Ray will end up single, each incapable of companionship in their own way. Adam is as big a degenerate as ever. The only wild card here is Hannah. She's built to march to the beat of her own drum but her path seems even harder to predict now. Before she was flighty and misguided but now she's troubled. What's worse, is that her friends, the eponymous GIRLS, don't even seem to notice.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

A Return to the Familiar

Criticism for the last few episodes appears to have made Hannah a bit jumpy. OCD-level jumpy. Now, I’ll admit…at first I thought this was a cheap plot point just to make every bit of unimportant minutiae seem high stakes and dramatic. Then I rationalized the erratic behavior as being caused by having to sit through a Judy Collins concert, which would be enough to make me suffer a similar fate. However, after the episode ended, I learned that Lena Dunham actually suffered from OCD and my stance softened a bit. It didn’t soften out of pity or out of guilt, it did however soften because one of my main criticisms of the show this season has been that I feel it’s steered away from relatable situations for 20-somethings. The fact that the show’s writer is addressing a very real and very personal life situation directly addresses that criticism of mine, so I’ll tip my hat and move along.

But there’s another reason why this episode was stronger than the past ones. It’s because the Boys are back in the mix. Charley, Adam, and Ray all have significant relevance in this episode and it’s because of that, that the episode is smoother, more interesting, better paced, and obviously funnier. Take that Beyonce. The episode's title proves to be rather apropos. I'm gonna say that "It's Back" refers to the general rhythm of the show that we all enjoyed from Season 1. 

Ray has to confront the fact that his antisocial and cynical ways are not going to end up being a great match for blabber-mouth Shosh. While I would agree that being a 33 year old hanging out with college kids is about as creepy as it gets, in this situation it probably would have been prudent to suck it up so he could keep tabs on his woman. Wanna know what happens when you don’t keep tabs on your woman? A dude from another HBO show is gonna jack her from you, that’s what. I will say though, props to Shosh because I did not think she had the stones to cheat….let alone with a doorman…played by an actor who only got 2 seasons on his previous show before getting cancelled.

But Ray isn’t the only one who should be keeping an eye on the person he cares about. While Hannah is busy at the shrink trying to get her nervous OCD ticks under control, Adam is scoring dates at AA. Adam’s been clean and sober for a while but he’s feeling stressed out and unburdens himself at a meeting, much to the delight of another attendee. In fact, the woman is so impressed by his honesty and poise that she sets Adam up with her daughter. The mom might be a kook, but the apple fell immensely far from the tree. She’s hot, grounded, and Adam appears to have a new sex toy to play with. 

While Hannah and Ray allow their loved ones to play the field, Marnie is doing quite the opposite. Upon hearing that Charlie has started his own company, built it out to what appears to be 20 employees, and secured what looks like a multi-million dollar loft space, (all in a manner of a couple months), she shows up unannounced at his office. Dating an artist is cool and all, but dating a millionaire is way cooler. Unfortunately for Marnie, the entire genesis of Charley’s new found wealth is behind his new app: FORBID which prevents you from calling somebody you hate…and it was inspired by her. Ouch. Marnie should see some royalties on this though, no?

When Marnie arrives home she has a mini-freakout which Ray finds amusing. While she bemoans the fact that sane, have-it-together people like her are forced to struggle through life, sad sacks like Charlie get to be rich and lavished with the gifts of luxury and fame. Or something like that. Ray, always the purveyor of sage wisdom, advises Marnie to stop all the petty bullshit and finally pursue what she wants. Enough of the hostessing and gallivanting. Marnie confides that her true passion is to be a singer and then belts out some lovely sounding tune that I was too lazy to Google.

What we have at the end of the this episode is something that we haven’t had possibly all season: many different possible paths for all the show's characters. This is a good thing and will actually have me looking forward to next episode for the first time all year. Will Shoshanna’s indescrietion bring an end to her relationship with Ray? Will Marnie become a professional singer? Will she sing naked? Will Adam start dating Natalia seriously? Or will she only make him realize how much he misses Hannah? Will Charlie ride his wealth to party it up with models in Ibiza? Or will he come crawling back to Marnie? If Charley comes back to her, will Marnie get naked? Will Jessa reappear? Is she going to be a peripheral character the rest of this season? Will Hannah conveniently conquer her recent bout of OCD to make room for a new plot point? Will her OCD continue to plague her for the rest of the season to become a ½ season arc? Will you continue reading this blog? Will Marnie get naked?

Yes. No. No. Maybe. Yes. No. Yes. No. Yes. Yes also. Yes. No. Probably not. Sadly...I doubt it.