A Guy on “Girls”: Ghost Dad, Drum Pad, and the Scantily Clad! (S1/E4, “Hannah’s Diary”)


Can you even recall a time before this show existed? That being a month ago? For a place that’s supposed to be an information superhighway, life on the internet can feel long, our collective patience only waning. To write TV recaps is to volunteer to live the end of a thirteen-week Carnival cruise. And despite merely modest ratings, from the amount it’s discussed, you’d think this show had been on for years. Never again will I doubt our national (or at least metropolitan) nesting within the venn diagram that conjoins awkwardness and prettiness.

I liked the cold opening’s surprise nudity heightened by aggro music kicking in at the key moment. Think Mad Men‘s use of the Nashville Teens’ “Tobacco Road” at the end of season four’s premiere. That said, the show’s soundtrack remains wretched, this week syncing Jemma’s panicked search for the missing kids to the Juvenile track “Who’s Ya Daddy”, complete with MIDI ringtone bleep-bloops and its chorus, “I’m the shit and you’re the poo-poo”. I liked the Hot Boys, but it’s no surprise that Weezy was the Timberlake of the group.

Of the episodes to date, this seemed the least Dunham-intensive. Dunham-fisted? No, that’s terrible, let’s move on. But I enjoyed her co-worker interaction while it lasted. The much-maligned Lesley Arfin showed chops, as did Dunham in her intended break-up monologue with Adam. Her dismissal, in which she reveals wanting commitment while likely abhorring the idea of calling it that, was a sophisticated fistful of writing, as Hannah spirals in and out of her intentions before the scene comes to a head. It also defined Adam’s dichotomies simply. He has a confused buffoon’s face on the body of a model (albeit one gorging himself on holiday). It’s going to look bizarre if this guy ever puts on a shirt. He often behaves badly, but nonchalantly tells Hannah to “just be who you are”, as if it were effortless, because for him, it is. In short, he’s an apt model for the self-absorbed but well intentioned youth of America (or at least American Apparel ads).

The climactic scene in which Hannah’s stolen diary is read onstage by Charlie (to the beat of Ray’s hand-drumming, beautiful in its terrible gesticulation) felt like a dud. It gives Charlie no more agency than he had, and clearly puts him in the wrong.  Until now I think he’s gotten a bad rap from the show’s viewers and characters alike, and this will only fan those flames.  His lousy spoken word ballad was no rousing mustering of courage for Charlie, just a passive-aggressive bit of teething, and I would hope that he’s given a more nuanced opportunity to speak his mind before he and Marnie call it quits. Even Hannah’s final line felt like an easy way to duck into the credits, and one that you’ve heard too many times before.

I dug the arrival of thin Horatio Sanz, and he gets the best line of the week, asking his (literal or just figurative?) brother Jeff (James Le Gros), “Where’d you find her, the back of the Village Voice?” Jemma’s playground pow-wow with her fellow nannies smelled a bit too much like Nickelodeon sitcom material, but did arouse in me an idea for her inevitable season five spinoff: Jem Blossoms. Years removed from her deep realization that you have to go to day jobs everyday, “even when you don’t feel like it”, Jemma opens a pay-as-you-go Yoga center in Brownsville. Monique plays her overzealous landlord/therapist. Hijinks ensue.

Best of all, we got more Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet). Her obsession with the minor and mundane is a fine outlet for Dunham’s more tangential rants. This week it was her punctuation woes, complete inability to walk in her chosen shoes, and dubbing of Pierce Brosnan as “original James Bond”. So like, I think, I’m kinda like, you know, basically like, crushing on her, or whatever? Removed from her afternoon pajamas and beigewear, she’s gone in a week’s time from “unconventionally cute” to “full-on stealth dime piece”. It was unexpectedly exciting to see Shoshanna disrobe, even in the throes of bad, rushed sex (note her veiled, mid-cunnilingus arm flailing to sweep stuffed animals off her bed. But the thrill was sadly jeopardized by the haunting visage of Zosia’s gruff father David Mamet looming in my mind’s eye, casting stern looks at me for ogling his daughter, while muttering under his breath about objectives and the purpose of montage. Thanks for nothing, haunting visage!

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