Girls Season 3 is back (on YouTube too!) for another season, and with it comes the obligatory slew of recappers, critics, lovers, and, obviously, millions and millions of haters, ready to tear Lena limb from naked, privileged limb in the never ending battle against nudity, nepotism, feminism, etc. While I promised myself I wouldn’t recap the show this season, I still Feel Strong Feelings about the show, its girls, its boys, Jemima Kirke’s weird outfits, and most importantly, its writer/director/creator/star, Lena Dunham. So, on Sunday night, when the camera panned up Hannah’s horizontal body, her legs inevitably entwined with another human’s in that classic, co-dependent way that legs entwine on TV, my toes curled in involuntary, pre-orgasmic delight, and I snuggled up to watch each episode three times.
I’m aware that not everyone feels the way I do about Girls. If the history of Internet backlash and Jenni & Judd’s little “rage spiral” at the TCA’s last week weren’t indication enough that not everyone wants to see Lena Dunham naked every week and stuff, many a male friend has pointed it out. My mom is also not a huge fan, but I think that has more to do with Lena Dunham’s tattoos than anything else. Also, my mom likes Network procedurals featuring strapping male leads. It also doesn’t have the *best ratings ever* – which is to say I’m aware that it’s not a *huge hit.* Even if it’s 2014, and these *asterisked terms* all lie somewhere on the spectrum of relative to irrelevant in today’s ever-changing TV/Entertainment/Content Consumption world, it would be foolish to proclaim that Girls is widely popular amongst the masses. Among friends and acquaintances my age, however, it’s always been pretty popular. Regarding people my age, Rembert Browne articulated what I think is many a 20-something’s relationship to the show extremely well in his recap with Emily Yoshida: “I enjoy Girls, ye olde problematic, controversial television show of our time. And, more than the show, I really like Lena Dunham. I like the fact that someone my age has a platform to tell a story, even if it’s not my story. But every now and then, it’s not not my story. Perhaps I’m a bit envious, because I wish I had a show where I was doing a similar thing, probably called Gentlethugs.”
However, despite the fact that the Girls season 3 premiere saw it’s highest ratings yet, I can’t help but feel as though its target demographic is giving up. After Season 3 premiered (yesterday, on G-chat), I started hearing the all too familiar sounds of Girls-hate… this time from my friends. Even the loyal die-hards were beginning to lose hope! Two out of three of my closest Girls-fan-friends texted me: “meh.” Just meh? There were the more commonplace complaints, things I thought we’d all gotten over in season 1, like: “The characters aren’t likable,” and “I don’t understand why any of them are friends with each other.” And then there were complaints of fatigue: “It’s not funny anymore,” and “I just can’t care about them anymore.” The operative word here seems to be “anymore.”
What changed? I mean, sure, none of the Girls characters are likable and they are all pretty selfish, spoiled brats. That much I’m totally cool with. But if you don’t like spoiled brats, you give up Season 1, right? What about Season 3 is different?
Let’s check in with all of the Girls to find out.
Since he ran across the city shirtless to sweep her up in his arms in the season 2 finale, Hannah and Adam are back together. For now. (Also, Hannah still works at Grumpy’s and is also still working on her e-book. So, not that different! But she’s taking her meds.) When they run into Natalia and Amazing Guest Star/Hero #1, Amy Schumer, shit hits the fan real fast. Amy Schumer goes fully cray cray on Adam for abandoning Natalia. She even drops the P bomb in a big way – “How does it feel to abandon your son? Yeah. Feel it. It’s yours. It’s fucking yours. That’s right.” – before Natalia corrects that lie. Natalia seems a bit embarrassed, guilty, and maybe a little hurt… until she realizes Adam is standing next to Hannah. Hilarity ensues. From Amy’s condescending “did you leave in a rush?” to Ray’s “Ooh the blonde one. She’s feisty. Feisty shiksa,” it was pure comedic gold in an episode that left belly laughs to be desire. Notable quotables include: “He shoots his cum all over the place like it’s god damn confetti. In my hair. And I got a god damn blowout after I left you.” And: “You should just enjoy your urine-soaked life, fucking like the two feral animals that you both are. You’re gonna end up with a baby, that you don’t know how to care for. You’re gonna fuckin’ kill your kid. You’re gonna give it spoiled formula. You’re not gonna get any milk out of those tits.”
After their little reality check, Hannah feels compelled to – you guessed it! – host a dinner “party.” With her two friends, and Adam, her “partner in love and life.” Hannah has Marnie and Shosh over, gets through dinner as selfishly as she usually does – “No Marn, we’re not gonna talk about my book right now. This isn’t the time to discuss my incredibly exciting personal endeavor.” – and Adam says he doesn’t want to see her friends for like 3 months, at least.
Then Jessa calls, to be picked up from rehab, where she doesn’t really need to be (more on that later) and we enter episode 2: in which Hannah and Shosh and Adam take a road trip to pick up Jessa from rehab, and Hannah refuses to hike, and Adam and Hannah almost have sex with Shoshanna in the room, and Hannah tells Jessa to please stop leaving, because Jessa is the only female to whom Hannah is capable of giving genuine love, friendship, kindness, etc.
Well, I’m glad she’s taking her meds and writing words according to a schedule, but I wouldn’t exactly call this progress.
Marnie Marie Michaels (I oh-so-love the alliterative names on this show) is still dealing with the aftermath of Christopher Abbot walking off set like a baby oops I mean Charlie’s “disappearance.” She’s extremely depressed and throwing up tacos like a genuinely depressed person. And that’s basically it. Oh yeah, and she’s living with her mom (Rita Wilson) who is amazing in an insane way, and she is still pretty. Poor thing. I hope the writers give her more to do and more to learn this season.
… is in rehab. Not because she’s a drug addict or anything, but because she’s a “like a life addict,” says Hannah. JK! Because it’s all that her grandmother would pay for. If Jessa does sixty days, her grandma will pay for a plane ticket, rent, and those new shoes she wants. They’re call Uggs. From Australia. Jessa ALSO just got a divorce which, according to Shosh, made her like, even more money. I’m thinking rehab is a little more about killing time and shooting the shit for Jessa, who would rather attack “Meth-face Mindy” for wearing scrunchies, wait, no, wanting to wear scrunchies though, than address her own experience. In terms of rehabilitation, she’s mostly just talking to a new Daddy-Issues figure who, surprise surprise, wants to fuck her.
So Jessa takes her need to make mischief out on TAYSTEEEEE (who is actually named Laura in the show, and is played by the actress Danielle Brooks, who goes by Taystee in Orange Is The New Black). When the group prompts Jessa about her real feelings, she says her real feelings are that Taystee-Laura is a lesbian. Laura confesses, but says doesn’t want to be asked to “do sports” (amazing.) and has never kissed a girl. So Jessa eats her out, and the Taystee-Tasty pun floodgates burst open!
Jessa pretty much spends the rest of the episode with her head down being told stuff about how she’s a horrible psychopath or a troubled person or a growing girl and listening selectively, until Hannah makes her cry with a seemingly genuine friendship gesture.
Okay, let’s talk about Shoshanna. A lot of people (read: critics + twitter) seem up in arms about Shoshanna’s “brain transplant.” Apparently Shoshanna, since season 2, has become superficial, money obsessed, and thinks rehab is “totally cool.” Whether or not we liked her more last season(s) when she was FALLING IN LOVE – can we all admit that people who are falling in love are usually more pleasant than people going through breakups? – and accidentally doing meth and bringing Dylan’s Candy Bar snacks to an abortion, she hasn’t changed that much. The difference is, right now she’s going through a breakup and trying to figure out her life after graduation. For anyone who’s been through that, can we agree that it’s mad stressful? Also, she’s not trying as hard to impress these girls. They used to be cool, new, older friends. Now they’re just friends. As evidenced by Shoshanna’s regular discussion of other people in her life, like the Bluberry Red Bull addict and the girl who wants a rocking chair.
Here’s the thing though, Shoshanna is always right. For example: Jessa is not an addict. She does not have a problem. She got married as casually as she is getting divorced, and if Jessa isn’t going to give it more import, than why should Shosh? When she tells Hannah “I feel like you were the one who was crying,” after Hannah recounts a (not that sad) sob story about Jessa, well, Hannah IS known to be a patented liar, exaggerator, and storyteller for a living, so. When Hannah tells Shosh she applies to grad school every year because “school is the best deal you’re ever going to get,” Shoshanna responds “Honestly the only people who I have ever heard say that are people who don’t make any money.” Maybe I just relate, but that’s one of the most true statements anyone on this show has ever uttered – and there have been a LOT of true statements.
And finally, the kicker: when Shoshanna so accurately sums up the beautiful combination of Unconventional Romance x Unsustainability that is Hannah and Adam’s relationship: “Hannah needs so much, and you just give, and give, and give like a saint,” she declares. “I’m serious. Think about it. What would she have done during this period of mental unrest if her boyfriend had been, like, an actual human being, like, existing in society. What if you had, like, a job, or responsibilities, or places to be during the day, or a best friend.” Yup.
Suffice it to say, almost nothing has actually changed with the Girls. We’re just getting to know them better. In season 1, they may have been more fun to hang out with, but real, true friendship, as well as good storytelling, has its ups and downs. Those things that used to be endearing, relatable, or fun may now be a bit grating. We miss the LOLZ of The Crackcident, sure, but life isn’t all laughs. And didn’t this show get its first critical acclaim for being such a groundbreakingly realistic portrayal of 20-something New Yorkers? My pitch: have faith in Lena. I love Girls, and I will probably always love Girls, because I am totally within the target demographic and relate to the things these young ladies say more closely than most.
But here are some other reasons you can have faith, and love Girls, even if you aren’t me, a 24 year old, well-educated, white, female aspiring TV writer with serious Lena Dunham envy:
1) “The worst stuff that you say sounds better than the best stuff that some other people say.” – Hannah, to herself, season 1. Egomaniacal though she may be, she’s not wrong. No matter where you think the plot is going, it’s a well-written show. On a sentence by sentence, word by word level, it is a privilege to hear these women speak the articulate, SAT-vocabulary filled sentences these writers have written for them, no matter how selfish or unlikeable the characters may be. Of course, it’s never been a question of whether Lena Dunham can write a good sentence (please see her four published and well-received New Yorker pieces), but maybe we’ve forgotten how much of an accomplishment and a gift that is, in and of itself. She is a writer, after all.
2) The casting choices on Girls are excellent. Donald Glover, Rita Wilson, Danielle Brooks, Chris O’Dowd, Patrick Wilson, Amy Schumer… need I say more? The roster of people I respect as actors, artists, humans, etc. is very impressive. Pretty much, if Taystee is down to be on any show, I’m down to watch it.
3) Moments like this: