A Girl on Girls: You’re Just a Sad, Limp Little Glow Worm (S2/E2 “I Get Ideas”)

This week on Girls we tend to get some very good advice from the most surprising places.  Now ex-boyfriend George tells Elijah that he’s just confused, and Jessa tells Hannah that she tends to overthink things.  The two seem mutually exclusive at first, but after thinking it over, it all boils down to not being resolute, in your decisions and in life.  It might be about lacking self-confidence, sure, but we see that Hannah generally has more than enough of that; instead, this episode is about making choices and sticking with them.  You can’t be confused; you have to be direct.  But you also can’t overthink things—you have to go with your gut.

But that isn’t what Hannah does this week.  She spends the majority of the episode antagonizing Sandy into what eventually turns into their breakup—Hannah says, “I think our political beliefs are just too different and we should just be friends,” when what she probably feels is that Sandy’s stable belief system calls her plastic one into question.  That he is so self-assured, and of things Hannah doesn’t approve of, is one of the reasons Hannah ultimately can’t be with Sandy.  His life is together, even if it’s together somewhere she’d never like to be.  The fact that their fight is technically over him not liking her essay (“I just didn’t feel like anything happened in it,” Sandy says, echoing pretty much every critique I ever made in college writing workshops) is clever and in line with our characterization of Hannah, but it doesn’t detract from the fact that Sandy’s sheer immutability is what drives Hannah away.

There is a metanarrative going on here too.  The first season of Girls was met with heavy resistance from critics who bemoaned the show’s so-called whitewashing, an argument that holds considerable weight, especially if you look through the cast.  When Donald Glover was added to the ensemble this season, a lot of people cried tokenism, so when Sandy says he’s seen it all before, that white girls say, “I’ve got a fixed gear bike and I’m gonna date a black man,” that they inevitably abandon him because they can’t deal with who he is in reality, we can see the parallel between how people have said the show is using Glover and how Hannah is treating Sandy.  What Sandy is saying is that the archetypal Brooklyn girls he has dated like the idea of dating him in theory, but can’t stand it in practice.  He’s merely ornamental, used to stave off any white guilt these girls might have after four years at an elite liberal arts college.  This move is very, very smart.

Marnie is having another no good, very bad week.  We don’t have to deal with Charlie in this episode, which makes it feel stronger.  Sometimes Girls shoehorning the entire ensemble into such a small time frame can make the plot feel crowded, and Charlie is frankly unnecessary at this point.  Marnie learns the hard truth at a job interview (the world doesn’t need curators anymore) and Ray and Shoshanna encourage her to cash in on her good looks.  Shoshanna hooks Marnie up with her friend Denise, and before we know it, Marnie is dressed like “a slutty Von Trapp child” making $400 a day hostessing at a nightclub.  But even as we hear Marnie defending her new job to Hannah, who implies that the money Marnie makes is dirty somehow, we can see that Marnie might feel the same.  Sure, she’ll don the purple lederhosen, but she won’t really believe it’s the right thing to do.  Her heart just isn’t feeling that sequined peter-pan collar.

While Ray, Shoshanna and Jessa don’t really do much to serve the greater arc of the episode, they do have standout moments: Ray and Shoshanna have the best pillow talk of all time (“I so wish you’d been at camp with me!”) centering on an intense theoretical discussion of what it might be like to pet a pig.  Everything Elijah does is still incredible and amazing.  Meanwhile, Jessa is painting a fedora-clad, shirtless Thomas-John, which is quite a sight to behold.  Jessa and TJ are very much still playing at being smug marrieds, which, though a Brooklyn fixture, I could stand to see change.  I like her new puppies (Garbage, Fucker and Hannukah) but I am curious to see how long Jessa can stay locked up in her gilded Dumbo co-op.

When we finally catch up with Hannah after her breakup with Sandy, she is exhibiting signs of dangerous self-destructive behavior, namely watching bang-cutting tutorials on YouTube.  Luckily a few pushy texts from Adam save us from that indignity (for now), and we get a difficult scene between Hannah and Adam instead:  Adam is at Hannah’s apartment to tell her he won’t stop trying to get her back (“My desire for you cannot be repressed”) but Hannah can’t really respond beyond asking him to leave.  She briefly dials 9-1-1 while getting Adam milk, but quickly hangs up.  Right as he finally goes to leave, the police show up to investigate the call.  They want to file a report, and Hannah keeps making things worse, telling them everything is fine, but that she just wanted to find out about getting a restraining order, and then saying that Adam was her stalker.  Everything she says comes out wrong (a very Hannah move) and the cops end up putting Adam in cuffs and leading him to the station over a few unpaid parking tickets and a summons for public urination.  But this isn’t about Adam’s tickets; it’s about Hannah letting the phone ring once, even if she did hang up.  It’s about her kind of wanting to get a restraining order, but not really.  And no matter how many times Hannah tells Adam she’s sorry as the cops lead him down her stairs, we know that even then, not even Hannah is sure whether she’s sorry at all.

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