The Girls on 'Girls' Are Becoming Parodies of Themselves & Not In a Good Way
Sunday night's episode of Girls was the worst yet. Or was it the best? Has this show finally accepted that it's highly stylized and unrealistic and is just gonna feed into that? After "Free Snacks," the 6th episode of Girls Season 3, it certainly seems plausible that Lena Dunham threw her hands up in the air and said, "Screw it, if they think we're a mockery, let's just give them what they want."
So how have the girls from Girls devolved into hyperbolic 2D versions of themselves? Let's take a look.
HANNAH: The Struggling Artist
In "Free Snacks," Hannah finally FINALLY quit's Ray's, a job which she was probably lucky to have in the first place because despite what the world of Girls is telling you, paying rent in NY is still a requirement. She's snagged her dream job as a GQ writer which Ray quickly discerns is a corporate sponsorship disguised as journalism. Despite his accusations that Hannah is selling out, she goes to GQ and just kills it, really. She's the shining star in the first editorial meeting to discuss the feature she's working on, Field Guide to the Modern Man (sponsored by Nieman Marcus) led by her editor (J. Crew's Jenna Lyons). Hannah very quickly (like, on her first day) develops a fear about selling out to the man and losing sight of her own "work."
The thing is: what DOES Hannah want to do? She was thrown an e-book deal with what seemed like astonishing ease; she was paid to do coke and write a piece about it for JazzHate; she got a job at GQ, which she finds corporate and stifling. But it brings me back to the central question I have about this show —do these characters need to survive in New York, or are we supposed to suspend our disbelief and stand with Hannah, who wants to choose integrity over "selling out" and paying the bills? She is supposed to be the struggling writer, but she doesn't seem to struggle all too much, and it's becoming more and more obvious.
MARNIE: The Self-Obsessed Pretty Girl
So Marnie slept with Ray (is sleeping with Ray), the ex-boyfriend of one of her "close" friends, Shosh, and Hannah's boss. Despite this incestuous relationship, all the girls have not yet had a confrontation regarding the situation, which I hope is coming. I wanna see THAT shit hit the fan. In "Free Snacks," Marnie mostly lays on her bed watching reality TV, the merits of which she later explains to Ray. Then they go on a pseudo-date for dumplings, where Marnie expresses her regret at not "studyin' abroad" in college or doing volunteer work in Africa... and in the same breath reams Ray for not knowing what pave diamonds are. Ridiculous.
But is it supposed to be? Marnie has suffered the worst fall from grace — once she was the poised gallery assistant with the cute carpenter boyfriend Charlie; now she is ambiguously employed, trying to get an embarrassing YouTube video of herself off the Internet, and sleeping with someone she shouldn't be. Marnie is most exaggerated as the self-involved one, and Girls has taken this to a head this season; at Hannah's birthday party she tries to take the spotlight, forcing Hannah to come onstage and sing a duet from Rent, and she begs Ray to explain all her faults to her, which is of course a narcissistic act. Marnie has become an onscreen version of ME ME ME.
JESSA: The Mess
Boy, is Jessa a mess! She got married and then divorced and then went to rehab and then got a job at a children's boutique where she is selling rich moms black frocks for christenings. It's like the show wants us to feel the full spectrum of Jessa's f*ckuppery whenever we see her. Her worst moment this season: disappearing to rehab (where she was an unwilling participant) and forcing her friends to come pick her up; showing up at her former friend's home who told Jessa she was dead, and being unduly nasty ("Don't call me when your life is in a shambles," Jessa spits at Season, who obviously won't because, um, who would call Jessa in an emergency?)
Perhaps we'd feel more empathy for Jessa if the show moved her forward, but bringing her back from rehab to work at a bougie baby clothing boutique seems like an utter waste. She is a running joke of "being a mess," and yet nothing REALLY consequential ever seems to happen to her.
"Cool cigarette," Ray says to Shosh at Hannah's birthday party. Season 1 Shoshanna would never smoke, but I don't see this as a character development. Throughout the short course of Season 3, Shoshanna has become a "Free Spirit;" a random guy at a bar tells Ray that Shosh pulled him into a cab off the street like a Ciroc ad. What is the with the breakneck speed that Shoshanna is changing? Girls still shows a scene here and there of Shosh studying, saying she wants to go to business school, but it's become more about her going buckwild sexwise. Which, of course, is fine, but what's the trajectory here? If they just want to make her seem ridiculous, it's definitely working, but is there a crash coming? Shoshanna is graduating soon—it will be interesting to see how Girls is going to deal with that.
When will these characters redeem themselves? The answer might be never, and that's one of the undercurrents of Girls — extrapolating and exemplifying the flaws of the young, and slapping a label on that that says "realistic." Regardless if there is no redemption in Hannah, Marnie, Jessa, or Shoshanna's futures, there has to be some sort of character development. A lot of events have happened on Season 3 of Girls, but as people, the girls are stagnant.