Girls | Episode 6

girlshboseason5episode6Oh, 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.

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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).

hannahgirlsseason5Advice 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.

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Girls | Episode 5

girlshboseason5episode5The Japanese board of health (or ministry, or imperial panel, or whatever it’s called) clearly operates with liberal policies. Cats and food in the same area? No, thank you, I’ll pass on the cat-hair latte. Hot steaming baths where people are naked? That’s not all that different from public pools (which, it should be noted, are also disgusting). But the candlewax in buttholes thing? That must violate a health code somewhere.

Scott:  The less I see of Marnie, the more I like this show.

Watching Shoshanna’s devolution from happy-go-lucky professional whose puppy love kept her afloat to emotionally bankrupt low-wage worker whose realization that happiness is not a function of cultural novelty somehow breaks my heart more than the failures of Hannah, Marnie, and Jessa. Perhaps Shoshanna’s innocence makes her fall into reality a bit harder to watch. Perhaps harsh realities seem more severe when glazed with a bubblegum J-Pop aesthetic. Perhaps the all the cat hair from the cat café has irritated mine eyes and only makes it look like I’m crying. Regardless, I felt Shosh’s sadness.

Hannah’s foray into lesbian sex was a bit disappointing for those of us who expected more scissoring. Jessa’s whole cum-inside-me-and-pretend-I’m-not-on-birth-control thing was a bit bizarre, but placed on the spectrum of her otherwise abhorrent and irresponsible behavior, it went largely unnoticed; her whole you-can-fuck-my-gross-sister thing was more inline with the Jessa I know and hate.

shoshannagirlsseason5Advice for Shoshanna:  Go home. Japan was fun, and your experience inside your conception of a perfect world was a fun mental holiday. But your life is in the States, and the more time you spend trying to make Japan work, the more time you’ll spend delaying your development. Japanese culture (especially for women) relies on arrested development, and it’s time to grow up.

Janessa:  Aren’t we all so excited to have Scott back?! He made it to 10p.m. and for that we are all #blessed.

I’m just going to jump right in and say Hannah’s dip into the lady pond made no sense for the character we’ve been presented thus far…or maybe it does? I’ve spent far too much time thinking about this. Is Hannah adventurous? Sure. As she stated earlier in the season: what she lacks in experience, she makes up for in curiosity. Does Hannah enjoy gathering experiences in order to separate herself from the crowd? Yes. This move was very much inline with her decision to do coke for the sake of a blog post. Where it doesn’t make sense is Hannah’s vehement heterosexuality. Hannah has spent the lifetime of this show seeking out the D. Her personality depends on and is very much driven by male energy — she cares very little about being positively received by females. So for her to cave so immediately to this yoga teacher, either speaks volumes to the yoga teacher’s charm or signals a misstep of my read of Hannah’s personality. Either way, bold move Girls.

To continue on with the lady theme, this Spring-Queening resort getaway was my personal worst nightmare. A bunch of women, all of whom are completely wrecked by their relationships, sitting around eating low-sodium meals (salt RULES!) and talking about said relationship failures — kill me now! Hannah’s obvious aversion for the resort and its participants was very much on par with her role of “voice of a generation”. It’s a pretty well known fact that today’s woman is generally getting married much much later than her mother and grandmother did. Although my Facebook feed may counter this statistic, the reasoning behind it was presented in last night’s episode. Today’s woman knows there is much more to life than the trajectory offered by defaulting to a life defined by marriage and children. Hannah knows she wants nothing to do with spring queening because she knows nothing about the path these women went down. She has no time for these biddies who built their entire existence around a marriage.

My final note on this episode goes to poor Shosh in Japan. Although I do agree with Scott’s sentiments for Shosh’s current situation, I want to call BS on bad storytelling. As I mentioned in a previous post, Shosh’s days in Japan are number, her return to NYC is inevitable. What I didn’t appreciate is her out of nowhere breakdown during a perfectly good meal. I 100% support crying in public (its one of my favorite hobbies), but I feel that such a breakdown needed more of a catalyst. Also, do we even know why Abigail is in Japan? Her arrival and Shosh’s breakdown just seem like a quick way to accelerate Shosh’s departure from Japan.

ARE WE ALL EXCITED FOR CHARLIE’S RETURN NEXT WEEK?!

hannahgirlsseason5Advice for Hannah: Do not throw this sauna session in Fran’s face. Granted his behavior has been somewhat questionable, this infidelity was still an unfair move that you need to be honest about — rather than something you throw in his face when he decides you two need to have a conversation.

 

Girls | Episode 4

girlsseason5episode4Janessa: First and foremost, I need to announce that Scott is about as reliable as Jessa in regards to being a dependable writing partner. Do not go into business with someone who falls asleep before 10pm, you’ll be left to write all alone. The second thing I need to announce: I’m currently using the Girls Season 5 Playlist to get in the mood for writing this post. I highly recommend following said playlist on Spotify:

Love is in the fucking air you guys! Or at least some version of it is. Last night’s episode was all about the couples. From the newly minted Marnie Harperin (yuck) and her psychologically unsound Desi to the cute-as-all-hell Dill and Elijah — we got it all! I’m going to switch things up a bit and do a little snippet on each of the pairings because there is honestly nothing better than judging the crap out of someone else’s relationship!

Marnie and Desi: Nope. Nope. Nope. When your spouse acts like a life coach rather than a lover, something has gone terribly wrong. Marnie does spout a little bit of truth when she urges Hannah to fix things with Fran because “People who fix things stay together”, but what she doesn’t realize is that the second half of that statement is “…or they realize it’s not worth fixing”.  Am I wishing divorce upon Marnie and Desi? Of course not. I think Marnie has a lot to learn from her new role of ‘Wife to Big Fat Baby Hipster’, so I want to see them try at this for a little longer. What’s so sad about their situation is how alone Marnie must be feeling. She has no one to talk to about her relationship (or least anyone with any sense) and she is too proud of a person to admit that things are kind of shitty.

Hannah and Fran: I haven’t spent much time talking about Hannah and Fran this season because I’m a little more interested in their whole arc, rather than the individual moments we’ve gotten so far. The reason for this? I’m still perplexed about their relationship. What does Hannah see in Fran? What does Fran see in Hannah? It’s not that these two are polar opposites, they are from two different planets, and I’m having a hard time figuring out where they meet. Because of the time jump, we completely missed the “How Hannah and Fran Fell in Love” story. We’ve been dropped right into the post-honeymoon phase (the more interesting phase) with no idea of what a happy and healthy Hannah and Fran look like. Instead, what we have is an increasingly unhealthy relationship, blossoming right before our eyes. It started with the naked photos in Fran’s phone — neither of them was completely right or wrong in this argument. And now, we have this editing incident which has led to a pretty big breakdown in communication. Their argument over Fran’s editing was not about Fran’s editing, it was much more, and one of them is going to have to take the uncomfortable step of bringing the real issue to the surface. Until that happens, Hannah is going to continue to revel in her personal brand of crazy and Fran is going to keep coming off as the “good guy” that he may or may not be.

Jessa and Adam: Ok. Are my standards so low that I find Adam’s stalking kind of adorable? I like a man that is hell-bent on what he wants, even if it involves being a little creepy. To be pursued is always kind of flattering. Light criminal behavior aside, I like these two together. Unlike Hannah and Fran, Jessa and Adam navigate life in a pretty similar fashion. A relationship between these two would not involve anyone trying to change the other person, it would be a consolidation of two similar personalities that are just different enough. There’s something about Jessa and Adam that seems a little more secure than the pairing of Adam and Hannah. The proof? Jessa’s arrival at Adam’s door and the conversation that followed was eerily similar to Hannah’s knock on his door in season one (the one where she has Mexican eyebrows). Watch that scene HERE and then compare it to Jessa’s scene. Note how Hannah’s confession is built upon insecurities and Jessa’s is built on a much more vulnerable,
emotional confidence. Also, Adam’s reactions are completely different.

Elijah and Dill: As a heterosexual female, how jealous am I allowed to be of these two lovebirds?

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Advice for Hannah: Take the crazy down a notch, figure out why you’re actually so angry and then explain that to Fran. Your combative tone is doing more harm than good.

Girls | Episode 3

girlsseason5episode3japanJanessa: My gut feeling on this episode: please let this be the worst one of the season. Poor Shosh and her Japanese adventures deserved more than this. Maybe Scott thought otherwise, but he has abandoned this blog for a trip to Aspen. Let’s hope he is less of a Hannah and more of a Marnie on the slopes.

So Shosh has been living in the anime dream known as Japan for 7 months. Japanese Shosh is pretty chill. She gets along with her co-workers. She’s embraced Japanese culture from her Harajuku wet dream of an apartment to the public bathing habits of a country that is clearly not America. She even speaks Japanese! I know nothing of moving to another country, but it seems our Shosh is doing quite well — which makes her inevitable firing a little hard to swallow and frankly, disappointing.

Given that we are now in the fifth season of GIRLS, I think it is now safe to conclude that once you live in New York City, you’re not allowed to leave for an extended period of time. Jessa goes to rehab, she’s back in NYC by episode two. Hannah leaves for grad school, she’s back by episode four. Shosh leaves for Japan, and although she isn’t technically back, there’s a very strong chance she’ll be back by episode five (I’m giving her stay in Japan another episode because from the previews we know Abigail comes to visit her — also I’m assuming HBO would not pay for a show like this to shoot in Japan for only one episode’s worth of material). Marnie has yet to make her great departure, but there’s still another season. Although my hypothesis ultimately fails because Shosh is not back on American soil, her firing in this week’s episode puts her stay in Japan on notice.

I’m striking a disapproving tone for this move not because it’s unrealistic, people get fired, but as these girls (and this show) mature, it’s time to show at least one of these creatures succeeding at a career. We’ve been watching these ladies for four years and not a single one of them has maintained even a semi-serious job for longer than a season. Marnie’s gallery job in season one (and maybe still in this season) is the closest we’ve come to seeing a successful career from this group of girls and that makes no sense, in my mind. Maybe I am bragging, but when I look around at the women I call friends, there are a lot of career success stories. I’m not saying these women are satisfied with their jobs, but they’re working and moving up the ladder. Apparently, if you’re friends with Hannah Horvath, success is not so easy to comeby.

Ultimately, GIRLS is a show in need of drama and no real need to mimic “real” life, but Shosh’s apparent firing is a missed opportunity for the show’s representation of the twenty-something experience. Yes, growing-up is full of failure, but there are some successes too. Seeing Shosh kick butt at her job, seeing her decision to move really pay off, that could’ve been just as much fun to watch. Although, it would not have led to the scene in the fetish shop, which may or may not be my new favorite Shosh moment.

Again, there’s always more to talk about with this show. And I’m sure if Scott were here we could’ve really delved into Fran’s fascination with his ex-girlfriends’ nude photos and there would’ve been much debate on whether America is really a country full of sluts. But he’s not here, so this is what you get! Feel free to tweet angry tweets at him, in Japanese.

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Advice for Marnie: Never, ever, ever, EVER pronounce Ecuador the way you did in this episode. EVER.

American Crime Story: The People v. OJ Simpson | Episode 5

americancrimestorypeoplevojsimpsonepisode5Who knew things would get so heated in the courtroom? Well, I guess we all did—unless you’re the type who went into Titanic without knowing the ending—but to see it play out is a different case altogether. Did Johnny Cochran know that not disclosing witness names would lead to Bill Hodgman having a heart attack? No. (Did this even happen? No, at least according to RollingStone.com‘s fact check.) But as Cochran’s moves become defter,  the storytelling of a procedural becomes slower.

Janessa:  Going to be honest and say this episode did not thrill me. Yes, there were thrilling parts, but overall, I was somewhat bored. Turns out covering a trial is not super exciting, even with one as dramatic as this. I’m still very much into this narrative, this was just a particularly slow episode. I’m also just very excited for the episodes where we focus on the member of the jury and their experience, that’s a side I feel we all know very little about.

What did catch my attention in this episode was the lighting. The fluorescent lighting does not go away — particularly for the DA’s office and the courtroom.

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The lines created by these lights are severe. They add an intense amount of perspective, creating drama even when the scenes are not inherently dramatic. Another note about the lighting: the lamps. Lamps had several moments in this episode, demonstrating the 24/7 reality of this case for those involved. There is no down time for this legal team. Even after the sun has set, there is work that needs to be done. The constant presence of lamps is a clever reminder of their dedication. It’s also a great metaphor for the justice system and how it is a lawyer’s duty to “shed light” on the facts of their case.

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Scott:  To ignore the racial overtones of the trial would be to disservice a story about race in Los Angeles in 1995. In a story where racially charged language ends up becoming a crux of the defense’s argument against Mark Fuhrman—a man whose involvement in the case is so questionable that it could (and should) have been stopped at multiple levels prior to trial—the storytellers’ obligation to deal with uncomfortable topics compels them to distill the story’s contemporary racial arguments into digestible bits of drama. And for the past two episodes, the theme of racial tension dominates the episodes’ theme and tone.

But what of the other portions of the story? Do they deserve their own thematic episodes? Does, for example, the loss of Bill Hodgman expose a prosecution whose inexperience and illiteracy shows their incompetence? Perhaps this could be a theme of the next episode—prosecutorial ineptitude. Or what about the circus of media surrounding the trial? A pause on the narrative to detail the outside world’s perspective and filters could lead to an interesting tangent. We grab bits here and there—Dominick Dunne, Larry King, the gaggles of paparazzi—but a full essay on media coverage would be a worthwhile primrose path.

Then again, kudos to storytelling, amiright? To stick to a narrative thoroughly, while an unoriginal approach, is harder than it looks, and so far, the show has done a decent job of keeping it together.

Verdict:  The more the defense obfuscates the real OJ—suppression of domestic abuse history, blackening his house—the more it looks like their attempts are redirection via prestidigitation than convincing via complex argument. Guilty.

Timage1his episode featured an appearance from Dominick Dunne, a journalist whose front-row seat decreed by Judge Ito gave many Americans an insight into the trial’s personal ebbs and flows. Perhaps viewers, too, will get a chance to see the trial though the lenses of his little beady glasses, as they did during the fancy dinner scene wherein Dunne, after letting all the black waiters leave the room, detailed the goings on of the Goldman, Simpson, and Brown families. (Also, he’s Scott’s first favorite writer. Can you see the physical resemblance?)