The contempt I feel for Girls‘ de facto buzz kill Marnie (Alison Williams) can conclude only in me entering the show Calvino-style, with the two of us falling into a torrid hate-marriage that ends in her bleeding me dry with a fired antique pistol on a Spanish coast after bleeding me dry in alimony payments.
This week my future ex-wife gave us more reasons to loathe her, in the non-serious and inconsequential ways in which TV allows us to pretend to loathe fake people. Her view of Bushwick as a ghetto, entirely beneath her standards! Her feigned shock at the idea of Charlie the ex she dumped (Christopher Abbott) dating a new lady! Her punny address of that someone as “a tiny Nava-ho”! While being cast as the cold she-jerk (Not a “bitch”, no, never! Why would I ever?) of the foursome is a thankless task, Alison Williams to date has been a haddock of a performer: fishy, yet bland. Girls‘ creator Lena Dunham tends to utilize Marnie as a forced drama inducer: it’s Marnie who argues against the party, Marnie who perpetually reminds us that Hannah (Dunham) can’t pay the rent, Marnie who opposes Hannah’s taste in men.
Yet in spite of getting plenty of screen time and storylines, Marnie rarely feels like anything more than a device that might as well be entering scenes in Gap tees that read (RE)SPONSIBILITY and an old-timey British police siren strapped to her back. The positives of this crew having a Marnie around tend to go unseen. Or so I thought, until tonight she informed me that you can send fellow iPhone users Drop Pins so that they can find you when you’re lost. Why didn’t I ever think of that? In a sense, it’s a moment that illustrates her worth as a friend: Marnie’s preparedness breeds comfort and consolation. And she had one great line tonight, asking her ladies upon entering one conveniently framed setup common to multi-camera HBO shows, “Why are you all standing in a line?”
Jemma (Jemima Kirke) once again got the short shrift in terms of cold hard action or storytelling. The character has been something of a dud for me through most of the series. Kirke is charming and beautiful, but her meandering “will they or won’t they” relationship with her boss (James LeGros) rarely lives up to her potential, and the pep talk she gave him before his petulant exit felt wasted in this dreary scenario. Meanwhile, Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet) emerging as your tiny female Kramer – the comedy show’s uber-comic relief who seems poised to break out as the crowd favorite – only highlights the lack of reasons to care about Marnie and Jemma’s contrivances. Shoshanna is compelling because she is a series of contradictions: a truly weird and unique character that feels fully formed, because she is richly detailed and brought fully to life by Mamet (who sadly seemed a bit of a surly crab when recently interviewed on Conan). Her scene with Ray (Alex Karpovsky) was a slobber knocker for both of them, one that again showed Ray to be a loyal friend to all in need despite his caustic tongue.
If Dunham is still figuring out how to develop the characters she isn’t playing, at least let it be said that her own has hit Watch the Throne “Lift Off” territory. Aside from letting it slip that she doesn’t like nature documentaries, she gained them back by justifying her eleven hours of sleep a night (“ever since I had mono”). Her on track chat amongst old railroad cars with Adam about his previously unmentioned enrollment in Alcoholics Anonymous since age 17 was well written and performed. Dunham, Driver, and their relationship continue to be the show’s highlights. Like Marnie, Hannah is climactically confronted by the possibility that she’s pretty self-absorbed, and while that idea was undercut by a still altogether charming final shot, it’s still intriguing to consider how the show will capitalize on this actualization. Incidentally, that last shot in the cab was one of many cool ones from guest director (and Tiny Furniture cinematographer) Jody Lee Lipes: all told this was far and away the best photographed episode yet.
Bringing characters to a party is a tried and true method of letting them bounce off the walls, and this week’s warehouse/art loft/live poultry factory setting gave the show offered fun throwaway moments, such as the awesome title sequence and cameos from hella articulate crust punk villains. It also further illustrated the awesome possibility that Ray’s entire role in his suddenly red-hot band is to gesticulate wildly while his bros play all the music. Music has been one of the show’s shortcomings in recent weeks, but I liked what I heard of Charlie and Ray’s unit Questionable Goods, as well as usage of Ghostface’s “The Champ” and a surprisingly good Mark Ronson track. And I was straight up smitten with the introduction of Adam’s first known friend, a potential lesbian named Tako (“with a K”), which looks better written out then it did said aloud. Hannah rightly seemed to enjoy Tako’s kooky serenity, and I want them to hang out again. Because I’m now knee-deep in this show and have hopes that other characters will become friends and chill together when I’m not around. But oh, sweet Tako! She has kind eyes and opens beers with her teeth! We need more people like this here in Bushwick! Bring on the Summer of Tako!
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