'Girls' Struggles With Consistency
In this week’s episode of Girls, “It’s Back,” things got a bit…erratic. The show’s growing tendency for, well, randomness is becoming difficult to ignore.
For one, this episode offered an inside view of what Adam (Adam Driver) has been up to since Hannah (Lena Dunham) left him, and we watched as he attended an AA meeting and went on a blind date with a beautiful girl (Shiri Appleby). Adam is really engaging and sometimes more fun to watch onscreen than the girls, but peeking into his life without Hannah or any regular cast members around was a little disorienting and inconsistent with the rest of the show. Hasn’t he always been a secondary character, placed along our protagonist’s path and shown from her perspective and in relation to her growth? And on that note, up until very recently, hasn’t he always been crazy? Since the series began, it’s always been suggested that Adam is multifaceted and not necessarily as much of a psychotic jerk as he comes off as, but I think his sudden transformation to a pretty much normal guy is a bit of a stretch. Where is the dude who regularly objectified Hannah, who lied to her about STDs, and who got his rent money from his grandmother? Adam certainly is not the eccentric guy that he used to be, and its tough to believe that he’d become so rational so abruptly.
Meanwhile, Hannah’s OCD returned, and even though this is an integral part of her history, it has almost never been mentioned before in the series. At one point Marnie (Allison Williams) brought up Hannah’s former compulsions in their big blow-out argument in the season one finale, but besides that the issue has never been touched on. Yet, suddenly Hannah’s struggle with OCD was treated as if it’s a central part of her life and her personality. It seemed to have arrived out of thin air for the sake of having anything new to focus on, completely unrelated to much else in the series.
On a better note, Marnie found out that Charlie (Christopher Abbott) created a successful app and now works in an office in Manhattan. Marnie was struggling with the fact that he was doing so well while she floundered. Not going to lie, there was something kind of satisfying about seeing Charlie so happy after she’d predicted such failure for him.
Hannah met up with her parents (Peter Scolari and Becky Ann Baker), who were visiting New York City, and they realized almost immediately that she was reverting back to her old obsessive-compulsive habits. She tried to brush it off as excitement over her book deal, but it was clear that the stress of the situation was getting to her. Her mom and dad, played hilariously as always, knew better and took her to a therapist in the city after she stormed off in the middle of a Judy Collins concert.
Shoshanna (Zosa Mamet) cheated on Ray (Alex Karpovsky) at a party while he waited up for her at home with Marnie. He and Marnie have never gotten along well, but she confided in him (again, inconsistent much?) and told him she wanted to become a singer. Once again, what? Like Hannah’s OCD, this seemed to be pulled out of nowhere.
The show has begun to play out more like a series of vignettes than a continuing story, and at this point it is unclear whether the writers are actually intending for that or if they are just, well, unable to write in a cohesive way. What’s even more bizarre about it is the fact that the first season of Girls was very plot-driven, and it showed the personal growth of Hannah and the evolution of the relationships in her life. This second season is a whole different ballgame with people popping in and out each episode, the focus constantly changing, and so many characters that it’s difficult to keep track. It’s as if the first and second season are two different series, both of which are entertaining in their own separate ways, but hardly consistent.
As I watched the characters flail around in their own little depressing worlds in “It’s Back,” I felt no connection to them or sense of empathy, despite having once been attached to them as though they were my real-life best friends. I couldn’t help but think about that much-loved scene in one of the earliest episodes, “All Adventurous Women Do,” when Hannah and Marnie jam out to Robyn’s “Dancing On My Own” after a hard day. That scene highlighted the friendship and support that was the heart of Girls amid all the quirkiness. It showed that yes, the characters were all struggling and self-involved and immature, but they were figuring it out together, and that they still had at least a little wide-eyed joy left in them. These days it’s hard to imagine that scene even came from the same series. I can only hope that Girls finds its way back to some sense of heart – or at least a little consistency. I’m rooting for it!