Sunday, January 27, 2013

"Girls" - "Bad Friend": Catch the wave

     Hannah (Lena Dunham) and Elijah (Andrew Rannells) find
     the magic on "Girls".
     Photo Credit: HBO

At the beginning of Sunday (January 27) night's "Girls," Hannah's potential employer tells her to step outside her comfort zone in terms of her writing, specifically with a diagram on the wall suggesting that the magic happens in a little circle outside said comfort zone. Like the meta criticisms from last week's big Hannah/Sandy fight, it seemed to suggest that, despite being a show that focuses on the whole lives of twentysomethings in the big city, the critics of "Girls" were looking for something more each week than mostly or solely sexual exploits. We spend a good deal of time with...(we need a good "Cul de Sac Crew"-esque name for these people; to just call them "the girls" doesn't seem right since Adam, Elijah, and Ray are significant parts of the show)...these characters in their professional lives, but I'm blanking on an episode before this one that was primarily a personal story, but wasn't about a romantic relationship.

"Girls" has proven through a dozen or so previous episodes that it's perfectly capable of telling such stories about Hannah and Adam (last week's episode in particular), or Marnie and Charlie, or even Ray and Shoshanna (whose name I think I have finally learnt how to spell correctly). This week, the show stepped outside of its comfort zone and documented a coke-fueled night in the lives of Hannah and Elijah, with sequences that were at times quite funny, very well produced, and great showcases for Lena Dunham and Andrew Rannells. Rannells isn't playing the exact same character on both "Girls" and "The New Normal" so it's probably not a totally fair statement about the performances, but Elijah and Bryan share enough DNA that it's very refreshing to see this version of Bryan who is similarly obnoxious but that "Girls" can have a lot of fun with by understanding how obnoxious he can be ("The New Normal" will never be able to do that because Bryan is Ryan Murphy, and Ryan Murphy's favourite person in the world is Ryan Murphy).

And in an episode where Hannah is not on a romantic misadventure/screwup, what better way to continue the theme of "Hannah and Marnie couldn't be in more different places in their lives right now" than through Marnie's horrifying night with Booth Jonathan, fucking great artist/runner up to Adam Sackler in the 2012 "New York's Biggest Creep" contest? I didn't dislike Marnie in the first season, but at the same time I have no specific memories of really pulling for her as a character. It's hard for me not to, though, after watching the walls literally close in on her, forcing her into the fetal position. And much like when real life does it to her, she brushes it off and tells Booth how awesome she thought it was. Poor, poor Marnie - bravo, bravo Allison Williams.

The season is young, but this was my favourite of the three so far. As with all things "Girls", I imagine the reaction to this one in particular will be quite split.