HBO Girls: One Man’s Trash

       I love HBO Girls. It’s different because

  1. the characters in Girls say out loud what most polite people only think

      2   the sex is so unsexy. And therefore so much more real than five million candles and      

            scattered rose petals all the freakin time

  1. Hannah, played by Lena Dunham, is not your quintessentially pretty, skinny, flat assed, flat boobed white girl that the rest of us are, unfortunately, duped into thinking is the best way to look and be.  Hannah is pretty in a plain way, like most of us, and does not have a perfect body, like most of us (is there any such thing as a perfect body considering beauty is in the eye of the beholder.) 

Groundbreaking, huh, that a pretty plain girl has the lead in a show, a show which is everything Sex and the City was not i.e. gritty and perplexing– no voice over here telling us what amazing epiphanies have visited Hannah or any of the characters this week. Which is why last night’s episode One Man’s Trash was a let down (season 2, episode 5) because:

  1. It’s not in the same vein as a Girl’s episode–i.e. it was bright and shiny in a dull and

miserable way. Hannah ends up at a rich middle aged doctor’s brownstone and she has sex and realizes a few choice things. It was BORING. Not because Hannah was not her usual narcissistic self, she was, but because the camera, the angles, the acting even were so not up to standard– the guy’s place is too pristine, too rich, and Hannah notices nothing that her character usually notices: i.e.  does the guy leave the tube off the toothpaste? She can’t figure out the shower system, and faints (WTF!!! Hannah-fainting- yuck).

Of course Hannah’s character has got to grow, but please, not like this– not in this boring, mundane, gray colored, world. Her episode was as drab as the beige and white thingy Hannah had on. As for the end shot with Hannah walking down the brownstone stairs, tossing the trash, crossing the road and then making her way down the street: how Sex and the City can you get? And there was no symbolism. Nothing to remind us of Hannah’s life in general. Even the whole silly fainting in the shower scene did not harken back to her sitting the bathtub moments.

2   Hannah may be the main character but Hannah does not carry the whole show. At least not in this way.  I want to see the others- Jessa and her husband, Marnie and her fuck-ups, Shoshanna and her boyfriend, and of course all the rest of them: this is an ensemble act and watching Hannah be most un-Hannah like the entire episode made me realize, unfortunately, how easy it is to stop watching any show, and how high the stakes are when you want to keep your audience. Next time you want to do a Hannah only episode- send her back home, or have her parents come. Just don’t give us anymore staid shit.

3   If I want to see the life of middle aged doctor’s and all the things they can afford, I’ll go visit one. Jessa and Marnie visiting Mr. Self-Made’s (Thomas-John’s) apartment was a treat because the rich colors and camera angles worked because the situation was both ludicrous but ultimately relate-able. And given Jessa, her subsequent marriage seems so apt. Hannah would never end up marrying the doctor– at least not yet, not given how cynical she is and relentlessly selfish: so showing her all googly eyed and ‘coming out’ to him with her insecurities is such schlock. And really shots of the fridge and fruit bowl and knifes. Oh! Really!

Last year’s episode, when Hannah’s goes to her parents, was fantastic and fresh– this episode where she once against travels ‘within’ and discovers herself a bit was crap-shoot– What exactly did she discover– that she would like to be wealthy? 

Unfortunately it does not look like she’s going to become a doctor, and her parents, while comfortable, are not about to hand her an estate of her own. So Hannah probably felt like shit for realizing that, for all her quirkiness, she’s not going to have all this unless she gets her shit in shape, or marries well and then if she does she is going to have to turn into a boring, mundane, responsible adult– the type of person she’s resistant to become because it’s meh. 

Of course in real life Dunham is exactly opposite. She’s  hardworking and knows what she wants (I’m not going to get into how much her parent’s privilege must have helped– but the fact is plenty of people have rich parents and still don’t go on to achieve much by themselves). This episode could literally have been a small part of a larger one– and in fact sort of mirrored Jessa in the last one: when John-Thomas tells Jessa how he sees her, and for the first time she weeps because she’s smart enough to hear the truths in what he’s says and realizes that her ‘cuteness’ is cute right now, but twenty years from now, she’ll be an object of derision as an unsuccessful bohemian older woman (ageism is unfair, but that’s a separate issue). 

Girls doesn’t have to be frothy and Jessa’s quiet weeping was a powerful and fitting moment while Hannah’s in this silly episode was not. For me. As for seeing an average woman with a gorgeous man: I come from a country of arranged marriages, and this is pretty common, so was not some wild rise for me. I’m used to seeing beauty and beast couples whether its man and woman, or woman and man (cousin marriages enable this too).

I’m going to go faint in the shower now

1) because my obsession with Girls thrills me

2) because my obsession with Girls alarms me

Ps. For an opposing point of view read Emily Nussbaum’s take on this episode