Girls Is Terrible, And Such Small Portions: How To Lose Friends And Alienate Everyone

Hannah HBO Girls March 10, 2013

Last night’s episode of Girls involved a cumshot, a broken q-tip and a possible rape. Which is why I feel okay saying it’s the most uncomfortable episode ever.  Like, when I say uncomfortable, I mean I watched the whole thing through my hands like a horror movie. Things were viscerally uncomfortable with Hannah vs. the ass splinter/Hannah vs. the q-tip. Socially with Marnie’s Kanye sing-along. And ultimately, the sex between Adam and Natalya makes me seriously question the purportedly “feminist” thesis of the show. Did that feel like rape to anyone else? Did we really need to see that cumshot? Things were dark. If I were Jemima Kirke, I’d have been super relieved to be on maternity leave for this part of the season. But let’s just dive right into this, shall we?

Adam’s nice new girlfriend has him seeing rom coms starring Sandra Bullock, and being like a proper boyfriend. So we know she’s totally lame! They’ve been dating for about a week now, so she has deigned him suitable to pass through her hallowed coital gates. The only thing is that she’s got like a thousand rules before he passes into the no-fly zone. No cuming inside her even though she’s on the pill and we should kiss for at least five minutes and rambling anxieties and OMG she’s like so uptight! Shame on her for being vocal about what makes her comfortable in the bedroom.

On to Hannah, who is clearly still dealing with grade 1 situational OCD because she needs to pick her wedgie exactly eight times.  She’s on her way to see her editor, who is there to challenge her bravery as an e-book author. His opinion of e-book draft number 1: Too many Jane Austen-y stories about friendship and not enough gritty boudoir snapshots of her “pudgy face slick with semen and sadness.” It’s so hard to maintain your creative integrity when everyone is just pressuring you to talk about your sex life like ALL THE TIME! Right, Leenz? You’re clearly sick of that…

But OMG, Shoshonna, HOW ARE YOU??? Just being like the best girlfriend ever to the most gracious extended houseguest, beloved boyfriend and human paintbrush Ray. Clearly, he’s getting super comfortable because he’s occupied her peace-sign robe and parked his life-size Andy Kaufman cardboard cutout in her living room. But we know Shoshonna is still dealing with the guilt of making out with shin-strap the doorman, and Ray is suspicious. Andy Kaufman was luckily there to point a damning finger at her hypocrisy.

Oh hey, Marnie! How’d you get into Charlie’s office building again? I guess you haven’t yet been placed on the security alert list. Well, good for you and your new wreck identity! You’ll just always be on the outside looking in on Charlie’s new life, complete with cute stylish female coworkers, drip coffee, and office bikes.

Also, as an aside, the way Charlie talks about the reaction of his staff to surpassing a subscriber milestone is too much. “Sorry, we just got to 20,000 MAU’s, and everyone was like ‘Ohhh fuuuuuuck, we did it!” Welcome to the deterioration of the English language, as brought to you by wunderkind millennials.

And back to Hannah’s problems. She’s so fucked up that she engages in a bit of light self-mutilation. It’s a battle royale, q-tip  against ear canal. So, she gets to the hospital, and we stick around to watch the doctor pull the q-tip out of her ear. This scene is truly superfluous. Realistic, in the sense that we have all taken those hospital trips that awaken the most pathetic kind of self pity. Free of real perspective and foresight, we’re like “Why me? My friends never get sent to the ER for stuff ike this.” And then we’re like, shut up self. This sucks, like really bad, but honestly. Some people have real problems.

And it sucks even worse because this just had to happen on the eve of Charlie’s party—which is essentially a gathering of the most embarrassing kinds of people who call themselves young professionals. There’s the awkward sway-dancing  guy, the girl drunk crying against a pillar, and the crowd of people testing the authenticity of anonymous girl’s boobs. Because these peeps are the free-wheelingest folks east of Bedford Avenue, and also, the dregs of humanity.

So naturally, this was thus high time for Shoshonna to reveal her forehead doughnut made of hair. And for Marnie to halt the party to sing Kanye lyrics. Which she felt totally comfortable with, because Ray assures her before this psychotic cry for attention that her voice is “Katy Perry good.” Allison Williams and Kitty Purr totally laughed about this line at their weekly Girls viewing party, because they’re pretty girl friends and have bonded over their perfectly symmetrical faces.

Meanwhile, Adam runs into Hannah on the street at Natalya’s friend’s engagement party. Cause she’s exactly the kind of beige girl who can’t take a poop joke and has friends getting married at 24. Hannah rambles on about seeing her middle school teacher at Kroger and we don’t care. But Adam really does. Like a lot. It makes him miss her so much that he runs back inside and takes refuge in the swaddling clothes of grain alcohol. And thus ends his recovery as an alcoholic.

And what comes next was honestly a bit shocking for me to watch, as I’m sure it was for many other viewers. We get that Natalya isn’t right for him. She’s a square priss who can’t deal with the clutter of his apartment, doesn’t get him and makes him feel judged. So he sets out to degrade her. He commands her to drop on all fours and crawl to his bedroom. He aggressively takes her from behind. He finishes on her chest in a move that is clearly not enjoyable for her.

And after it’s all over, she’s rightfully traumatized. What, was it 2 days prior to this that she laid out what she was comfortable with? And here he is, violating it all and taking her in a way that verges on sexual assault. In his convoluted, sadist brain, this is a punishment she incurs for not being who he wants her to be. We see, beyond the-flawed-but-generally-likeable character Adam has become throughout the course of the show, that he is a sexually violent chauvinist with the ability to cause some very real harm. And I’m not saying that sex should look any way in particular, but Adam’s move is a violation of Natalia’s trust and her body.  know I wasn’t the only one watching and thinking “is this rape?” in my head.

So this is where we’re supposed to solve the brazenly obvious hangman puzzle that is Hannah and Adam’s relationship. They’re perfect for each other. Without Adam, Hannah lacks the degradation that feeds her art. She is bereft without the abuse of Adam, so she’s compelled to mutilate herself and ends up at the hospital with a hemorrhaging ear. Without Hannah, Adam takes his misogynistic impulses on girls who aren’t into that kind of thing. Meaning, he has the potential to really give a non-masochist person some PTSD fodder.

If I can’t say anything else good about them together I can say this. In their relationship, they keep socially well-adjusted people away from themselves. And whether or not it’s a Mariah Carey “We Belong Together” sort of thing, in the scheme of the show, they seem to be what each other is lacking in their lives right now to keep them from causing any more harm to the outside world. And although these characters are all terrible people, I guess I could say that I’d be happy with Hannah and Adam getting back together. Because emotional fuckwits like this really deserve each other.

(Photo: TVequals.com)

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    • http://blisstree.com/ Carrie Murphy

      I didn’t really see Natalya (Natalia?) telling Adam what she liked as being uptight. Or that we, as the viewer, were supposed to read it as being uptight. I just saw it as a way to illustrate the difference between her and Hannah, where I could have easily seen Hannah being like “Oh, um, hmmm, yeah we’ll just see what happens.” And I don’t see Natalya as painted as a particularly vanilla girl, either, just a different type of girl than Hannah, and clearly not the right girl for Adam. Re: Adam and Natalya’s sex scene, though: OMG. OMG. It was super uncomfortable and hard to watch.

      • CG

        I agree, Natalia’s directness sexually wasn’t presented as a negative at all. Hannah never has any idea what she wants, and (I think) Adam to hurt/upset her when he probably doesn’t intend to. Adam liked that Natalia was so direct with him initially, but ends up using this information to hurt her rather than spare her from his nature. Natalia doesn’t seem like a priss at all (um hello Shoshonna?!?), and in fact the only time she seems at all weak or “against her nature” is when she allows Adam to drink with so little fuss. Keep in mind that as soon as the sex with Adam is over she tells him she didn’t like it…this is a woman (and I use that word with all the meaning it can have when associated with a show of this title) who is not afraid to voice her own feelings and opinions, and doesn’t need writing, or a hissy fit, to do so.

        Honestly, this is the episode that finally sold me on girls. I finally cared about someone.

    • http://twitter.com/DonnaDiva Donna Gratehouse

      If Hannah enjoyed Adam’s abuse so much why did she leave him and tell Elijah that she was genuinely scared of him?

      • random

        For the same reason that a woman with an alcoholic mother has no problem getting her alcoholic boyfriend a drink or seven. People do stupid things because we are people. Hannah is scared of anyone who causes her to actually have a real emotion.

      • Arielle

        And Hannah is so unhappy that she doesn’t feel like she deserves to be with someone who treats her well. Also, she was genuinely scared of him because he was writing creepy songs. She never had real problems with Adam treating her insensitively, or criticizing her body or any of that.

    • http://twitter.com/LGM_PR Lisa Gillette-Martin

      Thank you for confirming that I’m missing nothing by not watching this show. Based on this recap, I’d rather shove a q-tip in my OWN ear.

    • KCJC

      Your review is by and large you reading stuff into what was presented, which is the genius of Girls and why everyone is talking about it so much. It throws shit up there as it is, and people see what they want or need to see in it. It’s like a cultural Rorschach test. I loved your review, honestly, because it tells us about you. You’ve got a lot of anger and judgment of others, which I think is mainly because you’re pissed off and you seek out random shit to be pissed off about because whatever it is you’re really pissed off about is too big to deal with right now. You’ve read almost the entire episode negatively and the words you use to describe other people–”emotional fuckwits” and “the dregs of humanity”–speak to a hell of a lot of rage at other people for the shit you’ve endured. Fuck, man, let it out. It’s harmless to do it against characters on a TV show because you’re not hurting real people. Just recognize it for what it is. Peace, sister. :)

      • Arielle

        Well, what can I say? Anger and judgment make for good TV reviews.

    • KCJC

      My thoughts on the “is-it-or-isn’t-it-rape” sex scene: Adam has a kink. What turns a person on sexually is as personal as a fingerprint, and if you can fulfill that you can touch their soul. Adam had that with Hannah. Then Hannah abruptly left him and he has no idea why. It’s a huge blow, all the more so because of his age and inexperience with matters of the heart. With Natalya, he comes up against the fact that each woman is an island: each is completely different sexually from all the others. What worked with Hannah REALLY doesn’t work with Natalya, and he’s not good at reading her signs until after it’s over. He looks like a kicked puppy when he asks if that’s it for them. He’s just showed her that little piece of his soul, the one Hannah understood and fulfilled, and she’s rejecting him. He also lives in the same culture you and I do, and is fully aware that she might feel raped and call the cops on him like Hannah did. He’s starting to get the idea that his most private fantasy, that secret part of his soul, might be wrong and unacceptable. He’s not a sadist or someone who derives pleasure from hurting women. He’s a decent-hearted kid with a lot of baggage, plenty of it self-made, trying to figure out how to become an adult. Just like everybody else on this show.

      • Arielle

        I agree that Adam has a kink, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But in his case, with his behavior and personality, etc. he is seriously damaged and it has made him into someone who has an urge to hurt others. He may feel bad about it after the fact, but the real character demonstrating thing is that he keeps on doing it. Everyone likes what they like in the bedroom, and everyone’s entitled to that. But Adam is no saint either. He gave Hannah shit about her weight, treated her heart like crap throughout the first season, and then just decided he was into it the moment he wanted to leave. Maybe he’s not a sadist, but I would say he’s pretty selfish, and fucked emotionally.

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