Girls on Girls - Season 2, Episode 1
Who's saying what
Last year, we had mixed feelings about Girls, which, when given a little breathing time turned into starry-eyed infatuation. We weren’t alone. The show took out two Golden Globes (Best Comedy and Best Actress for auteur Lena Dunham) and was responsible for some of fellow lady-people Tina Fey and Amy Poehler’s best jokes of the night*.
Last night, the second season kicked off on Showcase at 8.30. Through the mystical power of screeners, we ensured our favourite female writers (Shoshannas, one and all) have already watched it. We asked them all to share their thoughts.
*“If they’re making you do all that nudity, we can call child services.”
Season Two begins with three girls severed and one untethered. Shoshanna has lost her virginity, Marnie has lost her job, and Jessa has lost all sense of her place in the world. Hannah, on the other hand, has found freedom. Sure her perfect new roommate might call her a c-nt behind her back, and an Ayn Rand reference at the episode’s conclusion is as much foreshadowing as head-joke, but what we’re seeing here is a girl in her stride.
When Dunham took out the Golden Globe she said she felt validated (what’s not validating about being called The Best in a ball gown?) but she also said she felt less alone in the world. Before switching on Girls last night, I was, for a deck of flimsy reasons, crying on my apartment floor. Being 24 with no real problems is hard sometimes. After Girls had pitched their fits, like only your best-worst friends can, mine stopped. Watching a comedy of errors can remind you of the humour in your own.
Last night, the cats stole my chèvre from a rocket-salad as Mummy watched the new Girls.
I cannot be certain but I believe this makes me the hemisphere's most bourgeois single cat-lady; a wretched title for which I'd feel more shame were it not that Hannah outdoes us all.
In Season 2 – newly gorged on Golden Globes – Horvath and co. show few signs of emotional maturity. They're all still appalling. Phew. Lena Dunham's premier creation remains a glorious, infuriating, middle-class f-ck-wreck. Expect some of the most achingly bad sex you will ever see this side of RedTube; Dunham has extraordinary cinematographic skill in honouring ugliness. Her film-making skills have moved ahead even if our Hannah is still a puddle made from neediness, pretension and ill-chosen dresses.
I won't spoil but I will say that these intimate observations have the punch of a great goat cheese. Which my cats seemed to enjoy a good deal.
Thank the SH-T for Lena Dunham.
The premier episode of Girls Season Two re-introduces us to Hannah Hovarth (Lena Dunham) and her crew of shamelessly dysfunctional twenty-somethings, assuring the show’s devoted audience that the imminent installments will be jam-packed with all the resonant, debasing and filter-lacking action that made the first season so compelling.
Of course, the prime chapter was not without flaws. Although there was a sense of progression (Hannah gets a job, Hannah sort of looks after Adam after he’s hit by a truck because of her, Hannah pretends to “be there” for a now-pathetic Marnie) she remains little more than a petulant, spoilt egomaniac – she announces that she's done being “selfless” – which, in all honestly, was a little bit disappointing for me. Girls has been celebrated for the way viewers – present included – identify with the on-screen triumphs and tragedies, and, at 11pm on Monday night, scoffing down a jumbo packet of Light’N’Tangy chips for dinner, I was hoping that, at least on-screen, life had evolved a little beyond the realm of a new (racially diverse) boyfriend and being an Opening Ceremony-clad calamity. (Of course, many would say that this is the show’s essential point.)
It was, however, satisfying to see that though Marnie’s (Allison Williams) life is a clustered mess, she’s dropped some of that stifling smugness and makes some admirably bad judgement calls, while Shoshanna (Zoisa Mamet) emerges as the show’s prime comic, who, after 10 episodes of being a highly-anxious one-dimensional virgin grows into a somewhat self-aware, and – dare I say it – level-headed emoji-blasting scene-stealer.
As usual, the show fluctuated between being overtly contrived (it is comedy, after all) and acutely insightful, where after a season of contemplating and thus concluding that you love the show’s deplorable retinue, you’re thrown headfirst into to hating them (and in turn, yourself) again. Now, let’s rehash those brilliant one-liners together.
The Girls season two premiere had all the ingredients of a tasty Lena Dunham entrée – first world problems, fleshy thighs and human versions of paper towel because, let’s face it, these ladies put the “absorbed” into “self-absorbed”.
While Hannah and Marnie continued to make Narcissus look like Mother Theresa with their “are we ok?” conversation the true stars of the first episode were last season’s satellite (equally self-involved) cast.
Elijah, Hannah’s gay ex, is like Will & Grace’s Jack McFarland minus the jeans and sneakers wardrobe. He’s moved in, redecorated and is on a path of self-discovery. His existential crisis may have finished before it began though thanks to his handsome, rich, older boyfriend. “Maybe I wanna be Wendi Murdoch. Maybe that’s my new thing,” he decreed.
Shoshanna may have abdicated her twenty-something virgin throne but looks set to gain the style and sass crown this season. She wants to ruin Ray and her evil plan involves deleting him from Facebook and bombarding him with Emojis – Gen Y warfare at its finest.
Her hymen may be missing but her manners and blistering Bridget Jones inspired rhetoric are not. Only Shosh could deliver a “bitchin’ cheese plate” while rocking a fascinator at a house party. You know what I mean?
Nadine von Cohen
Hey guys, remember that time Lena Dunham favourited one of my tweets? No? Well I do. And I’m going to keep mentioning it until somebody I worship more than the 26-year-old entertainment wunderkind notices me on Twitter. I’m looking at you, John Stamos.
I love Girls. I love it hard. Season One was funny and raw and poignant and deeply intelligent, and that’s just how I like my television. And now, having sneaked a peak at a few new episodes, Season Two promises to be all that and a bowl of Mexican-spiced hipster fries. Hannah continues to make stunningly unsound decisions, Jessa continues to be unreasonably beautiful, Adam continues to be super weird, and Shoshanna continues to be a comic genius. Plus in one of the opening scenes of the first episode Lena Dunham sends a naked love letter to those who have called the show “too white”, and doesn’t sign off for a few more eps.
I've never seen a room of people (ten girls and two guys, to be exact) fall into such hushed reverence as the living room did this evening for the premiere of season two of Girls. In the interim between seasons, enough breathing space was had from the online chatter and the breathless raves to be able to assess Lena Dunham's worth as some sort of generational cultural ambassador: to wit, is she good at her job? Not “is she good at speaking for everyone”, “is she good at responding to criticism”, or “[any question regarding her body]” – is she a good writer, director and actor? Based on the first episode of Season Two, that answer is a resounding “OBVIOUSLY”.
But perhaps more so than last season, the spotlight felt more evenly shared between cast-members here: Allison Williams has relaxed into Marnie's slow slide from uptight to shambolic, while Zosia Mamet continues to excel as Shoshana. In some ways, Mamet's highly-strung princess – “deflowered, but not devalued” – occupies the sensibility of another comedic era, at least when compared to Dunham's hyper-naturalistic performance as Hannah; she is showy and tightly wound where Dunham is underplayed and liquid. Even though they rarely interact directly, I find the tension and difference between those two characters and performances fascinating. Elsewhere (i.e. on the other side of the chromosomal divide), Andrew Rannells' Elijah was dealt the episode's cruellest narrative hand (an uncomfortable and pointless aborted "Maybe I'm bi?" sex scene with Marnie), Donald Glover's appearance as Dunham's... new boyfriend? Bit on the side? ...felt perfunctory, but once again Adam Driver's Adam Sackler – his leg still in a cast from last season's finale fiasco, a month ago in-show – was Girls' dark heart. Dunham might be very good at writing girls, but she's really, really great at writing this particular guy.
All images via Girls/ HBO.