I Salute Lena Dunham, and Not Just Because She Played Naked Ping-Pong With My Husband Last Season
Halfway through the two-part Season 3 premiere of Girls, we find Hannah Horvath "living out her truth" -- lying on a bed of leaves in the middle of a trail in upstate NY, having just refused a spontaneous hike though the woods, dressed in bright reds and blues, revealing a flash of white-pantied bottom, and listening to a podcast from This American Life.
“It’s not always so clear what the best way to help someone is without unintended consequences either to the people being helped or the ones helping.” It’s an apropos conundrum, one that echoes throughout the two episodes, from the very first moments, when Hanna sticks out her compliant tongue as her now stalwart "partner in love and life" Adam, hands her a happy pill to stave off the OCD blues, which she swallows like a good girl. Over the next 60 minutes, we see that help comes in many forms, as our ladies try to start from scratch.
Before the opening credits, we see their waking moments, in silence and quick succession. We learn that Hannah is enjoying domesticated bliss, or something like it, with Adam, their legs entwined under the covers, just like in the movies. We see that Jessa is awake and alone somewhere, scraping cruddy dishes to start her morning. There’s Marnie tossing and turning on her mother’s couch, and there’s Shoshanah making a clumsy retreat from a stranger’s arms atop a dorm-room bunk bed.
It’s a new day. It’s a new dawn. It’s a whole new hour.
I missed the girls. I missed the show. I missed how it manages to expose the profound, ridiculous and every-shifting truth of what it’s like to be a female in your mid twenties.
In my mid-twenties, I lived in New York City too, and I aspired to greatness like Hannah, going through twisted break-ups while waiting with bated breath for my breakout role in a movie, or on a gutsy episode of "Law and Order." I wrote a dumb pilot called "The Roaring Twenties." I began videotaping the daily foibles of my sister and girlfriends and we called it "Reality Bites My Ass," because we liked the movie and because we thought we were funny.
Neither of these ventures paid off because I scrapped them and left them by the wayside. Which brings me to why I really love GIRLS; because it’s the idea of GIRLS that I really love. The notion that Lena Dunham sat down and said Screw this shit I am going to write my own thing and I am going to make it come alive, and Judd Apatow or not, she did. She did. This is inspiring, on many levels. I salute her, and not just because she played naked ping-pong with my husband last season, and took so much flack about it from people who have fucked up views about what beauty and "realistic" relationships look like. Lena Dunham is showing us, warts and breasts and all, that sistahs are doing it for themselves.
With a little help from their friends.
In the two episodes, we learn that help can come from medication and therapy, and time-management to assure a balance of studies and one night stands (you go git yours, Shoshanah.) Help can also come from papier-mâché according to Hannah’s therapist (I love you, Bob Balaban and the way you mysteriously whisper "things" when alluding to your demons.)
Help comes from Sephora scented candles, courtesy of Marnie’s mom, who, from underneath her eff-you leopard print, reminds Marnie: “We don’t get scared. That’s not our style.”
Help comes from rehab. Kind of. That’s where Jessa is, having a field day with "ugly people’s" feelings.
“I figured out my life when I was five,” she says and we all know it’s bullshit but who doesn’t like to watch a train wreck, especially one so stylish.
“You have to learn when honesty is righteous and when it’s nothing more than a party trick,” says a fellow inpatient, who is creepy but British, and maybe that’s why it resonates with our girl Jessa. Because later, tail between her flowing skirt, she knocks on the door of "fat gay Laura" and says I’m sorry and then lends a helping hand, or tongue, as it were, by administering some inaugural cunnilingus on the lesbian she just so cruelly outed.
This "fratnernizing" gets her kicked out of rehab, naturally. It seems, like some good deeds go punished after all.
What struck me, however, was all the revelatory, loving help coming from none other than a boy; a barrel-chested, maroon-mouthed boy named Adam. We got a hint of it in the season finale last year, when he ran through the streets and broke down Hannah’s door and told her he’d been there all along, instead of crying out What the hell have you done to your bangs!
This season, well, I just about love him. Who knew he was willing to compromise, willing to go on road trips with girls who get off on Truth or Dare and whose female friendships consist of “ignoring all logic and being hysterical.” Adam, take the wheel -- and he did, and how. I am mightily impressed.
Our girls need help right now, right off the bat, and when they flail and fail and fumble –- because they still do that, because they still deeply question haircuts and argue about the pronunciation of Ryan Phillipe’s last name while on their way to pick up a friend from rehab -- it’s then that help comes from where they least expect it -- from a beanstalk hipster who, turns out, is capable of poetry. Look at him looking at poor, unfortunate Marnie and telling her with utter conviction, that it will be OK without Charlie. Telling her what she had was not a real connection anyway.
“Anyone can have that. Really knowing someone is something else. It’s a completely different thing and when it happens you won’t be able to miss it. You will be aware. And you won’t hurt and be afraid. OK?”
I believe you.
Because in a way, you’ve just become one of the girls.