Lena Dunham’s “Girls” showed so much promise at the beginning of season one, but the past few episodes have been downright depressing. I was pretty offended by this week’s installment, which ended with main character Hannah stranded in Coney Island with nothing but cake. That part I appreciated (nothing beats the beach and treats), but everything else seemed sloppy and forced. Dunham is more capable than this.
The episode opens at Chez Marnie and Hannah…or rather, Chez Hannah. After an explosive fight, the girls have decided to stop living together and Marnie has moved out. They
get along better now that they’re no longer roommates, and that allows us to devote most of our attention to the weirdest part of the episode. Everyone attends a mystery party only to learn that it’s a wedding for Jessa and the finance creep who shouted her and Marnie down several weeks earlier when the girls refused to let him in on their make-out session. We’ve seen Jessa progress throughout the season and eschew cheap thrills, but did her character really have to tie the knot to change? In the words of one “Girls” reviewer, “marriage is not the portal to adulthood.” There’s no way it’s going to last either, and even if it does, I’m still going to be unsatisfied. I can’t take a program seriously with characters making drastic life choices on a whim. We need a proper build-up or all the peculiar things are going to seem contrived or like Dunham simply had writer’s block. She’s a talented screenwriter, but I learned more and more over the course of season one that she still has a lot to learn.
I dislike Marnie more and more every episode, a stark contrast to my view of her during the first few installments. She was my favorite person on “Girls” and now I cringe every time she appears onscreen. Though I take issue with the way she handles things, I can’t say her character hasn’t made progress this season. Charlie is old news and she clearly sticks to her commitments, but I still find her rather insufferable. Less so than Hannah, though, as the main character gets what we think she wants and still manages to completely ruin it. Her boyfriend Adam has few redeeming qualities and proves to be very verbally and emotionally abusive, but isn’t in a state of arrested development. Hannah is supposed to be unlikable–she’s basically all of us at our most pathetic and selfish, yet I’d really like Dunham to give us at least one reason to sympathize with her character, who steals from maids, is ungrateful for her amazing set of parents, and lacks the drive to aggressively go after her writing aspirations. I’d like to see her grow next season, as everyone else on the season has evolved in some way. Even though I don’t consider Jessa’s charade of a marriage to be “progress,” she showed she was ready to become a better individual when she turned down James LeGros’s pitiful character and declined Kathryn Hahn’s condescending advice. Marnie can finally wipe her hands clean of her weird connection with Charlie. Shoshanna cashed in her V-card. But Hannah? She’s stuck and doesn’t have the tools to change that. If the finale was in any way a reflection of season two, I have no reason to continue investing in this show.