'Girls' Allison Williams Doesn't Like Marnie Either, Which Might Be Part of the Problem
Last night's season finale of Girls found Marnie Michaels making another bad decision in the form of a make out sesh with another woman's boyfriend. This isn't exactly rare for Girls — the show's essentially built off of bad decisions from struggling twenty-somethings. But Marnie portrayer Allison Williams is talking a bit about Marnie today. And it's pretty interesting.
Williams sat down for a post-finale interview with Buzzfeed. Talking her character, she said:
Marnie would drive me crazy is we were friends in real life. But I have to put that out of my head in order the play her. Like, sleeping with Elijah (Andrew Rannells) is crazy, sleeping with Ray (Alex Karpovsky) is crazy, furiously hitting on Desi (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) when he mentions his girlfriend in their first conversation is crazy; but I have to be on the couch with her and Elijah hoping they f***, I have to be in that apartment with Ray kinda wanting it to happen, and I have to support her quest for Desi.I have always been aware that Marnie is divisive, and I feel like we leaned into that this season. I mean, Marnie is probably the closest I will ever commit to playing a villain without actually killing someone."
I'm not saying Williams isn't putting on a good performance as Marnie. As Entertainment Weekly recently described, she plays the character to "pretty, uptight perfection." It's just that, well, even for actors portraying villains, one of the keys to that kind of performance is in getting yourself to a place of not even seeing that character as the villain in your performance. And according to this quote Williams seems there a little bit — but not fully. There's also a lot of contradiction floating around when it comes to Williams' feelings about Marnie. From a recent interview with EW:
I honestly just think [she's] completely tone deaf to her own delivery. I think a lot of stuff that leaves her mouth, she thinks she’s sending off into the world with the best of intentions — and then by the time it’s landed, it’s become totally weird and twisted. I mean, I really like her. I root for her so much, and especially while we’re shooting any scene where anyone’s mean to her, it’s really hard to watch and read.
Contradictions are fine to a certain degree because, well, people are allowed to have nuanced takes on their looks. But once the word "villain"s thrown out in relation to a character it tends to bring up a lot of questions. This is especially true in that it makes it all the more obvious when an actress isn't connecting with her character's experiences. An example: Williams is open about not fully being able to get into Marnie's head when it came to her relationship with Booth Jonathan (Jorma Taccone):
I was fighting that the whole time as Allison. I did not want her to go down that road. I thought Marnie was better than that, but she wasn’t, so I had to be OK with it too. I had to believe Booth was a genius when I walked out of that TV tower, whereas I, as Allison, couldn’t stop thinking, It puts the lotion on its skin.
Marnie is certainly divisive. But by god, somebody should be on Marnie's side. There have been plenty of ill-behaving people on television before, and lusting after inappropriate people does not automatically a villainous character make. So maybe the problem lies in how the people behind Girls are approaching her. If the writers and the performer can't connect with her, how is the audience supposed to?
Someone get on Marnie's team. The writers, the actress, anyone. Give the girl a break.