A Guy on Girls: Cocaine Technique, Oblique Critique, and the Return of Duncan Sheik! (S2/E3, “Bad Friend”)

This week marked a departure from last week’s climax, in which Adam behaved like a sociopathic toddler before being hauled off in cuffs for an unpaid urination citation. The insanity of that moment was not in him as some potential murderer. The true fear and horror in that moment is watching someone be told that they are no longer desired.

How do you cleanse the palate and issue hearty doses of mirth? Four blessed words: guest star Jon Glaser. Who was pitch perfect throughout this show, despite arguably being too old to play a Trustafarian cokehead named Laird. But why not? It’s Jon Glaser. The man wrote “Slip Nuts”. If you were pretty hungry and someone made you a Thanksgiving dinner in July, you’d eat it. That’s Jon Glaser showing up miscast in something. Once he responded to Hannah’s compliment of his turtle with “Thanks… he can be a real asshole sometimes though…”, any and all fears were put to rest.

That a sweet-hearted square like Laird proved the catalyst for Hannah and Elijah’s cocaine binge exemplifies two of Girls‘ recurring themes: season one’s Where Does Being Nice Get You? and season two’s When Does Self-Confidence Become Solipsism? People being silly on drugs is a pretty easy TV trope, but Dunham and Rannells are talented enough at physical comedy fit to pull it off. Hannah’s proclaiming “We’ve come so far, Elijah,,,” while the duo chop up lines on a nightclub toilet lid is really up there with “Are you my mom, Amber?” for inspired pop culture llello dialogue. The third act scene in the pharmacy – with all the multifaceted confidence, hubris, and joy of that moment, the arrival of Laird, the ecstasy at being needed by Marnie in the moment even when it is to Marnie’s own detriment, the sudden joy Hannah feels at being told she’s pretty by a guy who is a wilting semi-stalker mess (a yin to her full on stalker ex-BF’s yang), the willingness of all parties to stop what they’re doing and impulsively turn on a dime – all of it brilliantly points toward Boogie Nights at its best.

Last night also marked the unwelcome return of Booth Jonathan, a toad so glistening with undeserved confidence that he must be sleeping with the new and improved Marnie. My soon-departing female roommate confirms that both Jorma Taccone and Allison Williams are looking better than ever these days. “Ooh, I liked being talked to like that,” says Booth when she briefly puts him in his place, just as a douche would. His presence seems largely an excuse for Dunham to direct an equally impressive parody of modern museum-ready video installations set to “Barely Breathing“, and to stage Hannah’s climactic declaration in an impressive brownstone, complete with Elijah’s inquiry at the front gate, “Is this a bank?”

And really, that was one hell of a self-righteous speech from the peaking Hannah, delivered by Dunham in a borrowed see-through raver shirt: “It’s Wednesday night, baby – and I’m alive.” And with that, it is confirmed that this show got a lot smarter and more assured real fast. Such is the truth of investing your time in a mid-twenties artist. Such is the sweet sorrow of my Bushwick roommate departure across the country.  But here’s the thing.  Michael Jackson put on an old school tuxedo and the one beautifully assured smile he was ever allowed to have in his entire life to shoot the cover of Off the Wall, an album you got at the exact moment he was old enough to make it, not six months to a year earlier. Such is Dunham figuring out how to make this show simultaneously grittier and funnier. Within Booth’s Wells Fargo, she delivers a fairly accurate synopsis of any number of failed relationships: “We can keep being friends, just as long as you know that you’re a bad one.” Hannah’s spiel is the kind of self-absorbed word vomit that only come from a writer frustrated by his or her utter lack of progress.

Yet in spite of all the commotion, Jessa quietly got in the best line of the night, one that synopsized fear that her best days are behind her. “One of Tom Petty’s Heartbreakers once complimented me on it,” she says with exceptional wistfulness of a blouse being sold at her abrupt yard sale. “They don’t make a sleeve like that anymore.”  A more textbook illustration of nostalgia’s urge to return, I cannot recall.

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