Oh, how the weak have fallen. Both Charlie and Marnie, fresh of the twenty-five-and-a-half year journeys of failure, collide in a disaster worthy of 60-minute episode. But ho hum, let us move forward with the little time afforded to us, and recap the chance encounter of everyone’s favorite POS’s.
Janessa: If you follow us on Twitter, one thing is very clear: Scott hates Marnie. I get it, she’s pretty insufferable, knowing her in real life would be exhausting. While Scott may hate her, I think I have a soft spot for her, especially after last night’s episode. Of all the girls, Marnie is the only one who has been actively working on a facade of perfection. Hannah revels in her messes and her interesting fat deposits. Jessa came out of the womb with a tough exterior. And Shoshanna is bitingly honest when confronted by her own imperfections (remember her job interviews?). Marnie is the only one slaving away at creating a life of pure fiction. I admire her dedication to her outward appearance and life’s benchmarks. So many of us have given up on those things — maybe because we’ve grown up, maybe because we’ve experienced enough disappointment — but Marnie soldiers on. It’s all to her detriment, but oh how fun it is to watch.
I cannot think of a better antagonist for Marnie than Charlie. Unexpectedly seeing an ex is both a nightmare and a dream scenario for any girl. On the nightmare side: you have the worry of how you look physically (despite the sweats, Marnie looked skinny and great), the chance of seeing them with their new significant other who they are certainly more in love with, and just the general misery of having old emotions bubble up to the surface again. On the dream side: there’s the chance to finally prove you have MOVED ON (bye, Felicia!), the opportunity to say what you’ve really wanted to say, and if you’re a true masochist — this could be the right time to fall back in love. For a television show in search of drama, seeing an ex again is ripe with intrigue.
Bringing Marnie and Charlie back together was not only a win for those of us who fell in love with the show during season one, it was an excellent plot point to drive home the essence of Marnie. Here’s a girl aiming for the absolute definition of perfection, yet she ends up leaving her psychologically damaged husband for a romantic night with her now heroin-addicted ex-boyfriend. Marnie’s situation, at least up until this point, has always been lose-lose because her priorities cloud her from seeing what is actually going on. Marnie feels as if she has earned this magical night with Charlie because her goal of a perfect marriage is falling apart, despite her “best efforts”. Life has presented her nothing but struggles for 25 and a half years, she deserves this fairytale ending.
As Lena Dunham stated in the episode’s “Inside the Episode” the veil is finally lifted once Charlie’s heroin needle comes tumbling out of his pants. For once, Marnie is actually seeing a situation for what it is and coming to terms with it. It was heartbreaking to watch; a perfect night popped by the pinprick of someone’s deadly habit. We’ve all been there. Maybe not with drugs, but a time when the morning light offered up a reality we were unwilling to face the night before. I give this episode so many props for how it handled this dream vs. reality scenario. As the curly-haired blonde in the bathroom confessed, “I can’t have one more fantasy busted open”, but that’s actually just how life goes.
Advice for Marnie: Now is the time to do some actual work on yourself. Getting really into yoga for two weeks doesn’t count.
Scott: I don’t hate Marnie, I just think she sucks/has no redeeming qualities/is a bumbling ball of pretension who fails to understand the far-reaching consequences of her selfish behavior. So I guess I hate her.
Janessa’s observation about this episode’s strength—adroitly balancing fantasy with reality—points to one of the finer qualities of the writing in Girls. Few shows manage to capture the tone (or voice) of a scenario while simultaneously depicting the uncomfortable reality the story demands. Shoshanna’s foray into Japanese culture/Katy Perry’s vagina ended with the same saddening catharsis as Marnie’s stick-a-toe-in-the-water marriage. The contradiction embedded in each of our protagonists usually manifests in paradoxical imagery (in this episode, Marnie smiling through her tears while requesting a divorce, and in the previous episode, Shoshanna’s declaration of happiness while crying in public), pushing Girls more toward cinematic excellence than its Gen Y predecessor, Sex and the City.
Given the limited screen time this season has spent focused on the Hot Mess Express (alias, Marnie), I’m happy to have an episode entirely dedicated to the immediacy of her not-so-nuanced failure. Did the episode move too fast? Perhaps. But I’d rather have a narrative that move too quickly than one that moves at a glacial pace (I’m looking at you, Better Call Saul).
Advice for Hannah: Prepare for another foray into the black hole of Marnieism. I can’t blame you if you distance yourself—perhaps it’s best for you both, actually—but given the likelihood that you value loyalty over abuse, buckle in for another roller coaster involving insecure man-boys whose artistic streaks likely result in more ass eating for the Hot Mess Express. Also, keep an eye on Ray. He’s a good soul. Don’t let him get sucked into the black hole.