Archive for the ‘TV’ Category

By Amelia Solomon

Broad City LogoSeason two of Comedy Central’s Broad City show premiered last week and to borrow an alleged phrase from Ryan Seacrest, “They killed it.”  Broad City is the brain child of former improv actors Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson.  The two met, during their time doing skits, at the Uprights Citizen Brigade Theatre, and they created a web-series about life in New York City revolving around two women in their 20’s, who both lack direction and end up in insanely humorous situations.  The web-series received a large following and positive media endorsement, which resulted in them gaining the attention of fairy godmother Amy Poehler.  Poehler teamed up with Glazer and Jacobson, as the Executive Producer, of a television comedy show based on their web-series.

Everything she touches turns to gold.

Everything she touches turns to gold.

What makes Broad City so unique is that it’s unapologetically real.  The two comics are not afraid to go there, push the envelope and show everyone that girls are just as raunchy as men.  They are the antithesis to network sitcom shows like 2 Broke Girls.  Nothing is glossy, glazed over, or too taboo to discuss.  In fact, Broad City is touted as a new kind of feminism because it lets these girls be free to act like who they really are.  Female comedians like Sarah Silverman and Amy Schumer, who has her own successful sketch comedy show on Comedy Central, may have opened the door for the Broad City creators and stars, but they have taken the female buddy comedy to the next level and redefined what a millennial woman’s world looks like.

Even women can troll Facebook to hit on guys from high school.

Even women can troll Facebook to hit on guys from high school.

After the success of season one, season two was highly anticipated, and a trailer for season two hit the internet in November 2014.  From the two-minute trailer, it was obvious that the new season would not disappoint.  There’s a danger with some shows, especially those that are so fresh and brilliant during their debut season, to fail to deliver the second time around.  But with the season two opening episode, “In Heat”, Glazer and Jacobson outdid themselves.

“In Heat” has the finest two-minute opening sequence I have seen from a comedy show in years.  Abbi and Ilana race to make a subway and, once on the train, they realize they need to get to the back, so they will be close to the exit at the next stop.  This means they have to traverse through three subway cars of insane Manhattan residents.  For those that have never lived in New York City, it might seem unrealistic that the people they see as they walk from car to car could really exist.  But I guarantee you they do.  The girls encounter two hostel loving backpackers, a guy with bad body odor, a man clipping his toe-nails, a mother cutting her son’s hair, a family of tourists eating a six-foot sub, a perverted man, a couple making out, a pregnant woman, an impromptu calypso band doing circus-freak style acrobatics, a pile of dog poop, and then a subway car full of Orthodox Jews.  Trust me, if a baby shark can end up on the New York subway, the above list is just your normal commuter fare.

Can you say awkward?

Can you say awkward?

The plot-line of “In Heat” revolves around Abbi’s quest to get an air conditioner, because it’s summer in New York City and that means it’s end of the world hot, where your clothes stick to you, you can’t breathe and smells emanate off the New York City sidewalks that you could never even imagine.  Abbi is also trying to redeem herself after a bad date with Stacey, played by the cameo loving Seth Rogen.  Because she has no AC in her apartment, the two sweat to death and then uncomfortably try to pretend they aren’t shvitzing everywhere.  After he passes out, while they are having sex, Abbi’s determined to find a way to cool her apartment and try again another night.  When she tells Ilana about her date, she admits she may have continued to have sex with Stacey for a few seconds after he passed out.  Ilana points out that she just committed date rape and that her actions are like “reverse rape culture.”

Sizzling fajitas in August is just a bad idea.

Sizzling fajitas in August is just a bad idea.

The next scene finds Abbi and Ilana in a Bed, Bath, and Beyond to buy an air conditioner.  It becomes apparent that Abbi spends too much time there, as she has a secret handshake with every employee in each department.  Anyone that’s ever gone to college or moved can attest to the fact that Bed, Bath, and Beyond is like a black hole of amazing kitchen appliances and crazy As Seen On TV products that you become brainwashed into thinking you can’t live without.  It’s okay, you don’t have to hide your lettuce spinner and ShamWow from me.

This is the single best invention after Dibs.

This is the single best invention after Dibs.

After Abbi’s newly purchased air conditioner gets stolen, she posts an ad on Craigslist looking for a free air conditioner.  They meet a man who answers their ad and it turns out he’s trying to shoot an audition tape for The Amazing Race.  This scene is a great dig at the recent popularity of GoPro cameras, as the young man is filming his audition with one mounted to a bike helmet, while moving his belongings into a U-Haul truck.  It’s a random assault at the recent deluge of GoPro posted videos on various websites and YouTube, but it works.

Hey buddy.  You look like a dipshit.

Hey buddy. You look like a dipshit.

Their last attempt to secure an air conditioner brings Abbi and Ilana back to New York University (NYU), where Ilana previously attended, and where she left her air conditioner in her old dorm room.  They pretend they are resident advisers and trick an unknowing group of freshmen college boys into giving them their air conditioner, because they find a bag of contraband weed in the wall.  Before they abscond with the air conditioner, the girls have a comatose inducing smoke session with the college students.  In a haze of sativa head, Abbi makes out with one of the boys.  He then remarks that this is awesome and he can’t wait to attend next year.  A stoned and stunned Abbi asks him how old he is and he replies 16.  That’s their cue to exit and once safely outside NYU, Abbi worries that now she’s a pedophile and combined with her earlier transgression, with Stacey, she questions if this means she’s a sex offender.

Please don't send this to the Colorado legislature.  I'm heavily invested in some pot stocks.

Please don’t send this to the Colorado legislature. I’m heavily invested in some pot stocks.

I have to admit that if a show that centered on two young men had two scenes in which one of them sort of committed date rape and then made out with a minor, there would be an outcry of indignation, even if it was a comedy.  Because these topics aren’t funny.  So it’s interesting that Glazer and Jacobson are able to touch on these subjects and not only get away with it, but create laughs while doing it.  This may be a double standard.  But isn’t that the point?  The fact that Glazer and Jacobson wrote an episode that shows “reverse rape culture” is what is so smart.  They are turning the idea of rape culture, which has been a popular topic this past year, thanks to various newsworthy events and the resulting #YesAllWomen campaign, upside down and reimagining it.  In effect, they are taking a serious subject and successfully making it humorous, which is a feat in itself.  It’s no wonder that Broad City was already renewed for a third season.

Celebrate all the way to the bank ladies.

Celebrate all the way to the bank, ladies.

Girls“Together”, the tenth episode of Girls Season Two and the season finale, took a surprising twist that evoked emotion and left the audience satisfied.  For the first time, Lena Dunham gave the viewers their happy ending.  The way she accomplished this continues to show how fearless and brilliant she is.  She did it in the vein of David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook, where boy gets girl in the end, but a sophisticated audience forgives the happy ending, because it’s done so gracefully.

The episode opens on Shoshanna doing something that typically takes more nerve and maturity than her character has shown in the past.  She breaks up with Ray, rather than continue to lead him on and, ultimately, cheat on him.  Ray is devastated, but deep down he must realize that his relationship with Shoshanna would never have worked.  With a ten-year age difference, the two are in completely different places in their lives.  Ray is also a victim of Shoshanna’s lack of experience.  Now that she has had her first relationship, she realizes she wants to explore and that there are so many other men in the world for her to meet.  In essence, Shoshanna needs to sow her oats, and Ray has become an obstacle to her being able to do so.   This scene also allowed for some evolution in Shoshanna’s character.  By ending her relationship with Ray, she has allowed herself more freedom and is less uptight.

Ray gets dumped

The next part of the episode focuses on Charlie and Marnie.  Over a late morning brunch, Marnie says that she thinks she and Charlie are now dating.  Charlie falls silent and Marnie thinks that Charlie’s lack of agreement infers he is only interested in sleeping with her.  She storms out of the restaurant and Charlie follows her.  Realizing that she has nothing left to lose, Marnie tells Charlie, “I want you. I know I’m a mess, but I want you. I want to see you every morning. I want to make you a snack every night and, eventually, I want to have your little brown babies and, eventually I want to watch you die.”  As a viewer, I found Charlie’s response to Marnie’s candor quite unexpected.  He tells her that’s all he ever wanted to hear.  He also tells her he’s always loved her and he keeps coming back because he loves her.  It’s a beautiful moment and a satisfying one.  All season Marnie needed to figure out what she truly wanted.  Once she realized that what she really needed was already right in front of her, she was able to let her guard down and be honest for once.  What resulted was a reconciliation between two people who most audience members had been rooting for all season.

Marnie and Charlie

The primary storyline of the season finale revolves around Hannah and her continuing breakdown.  Her EBook deadline looms, but she’s unable to write anything and sees her golden opportunity slipping away.  As I predicted last week, Marnie finally decides to reach out to Hannah and, when she comes to check on her, Hannah hides.  Whether it’s because she is too embarrassed for anyone to see her in her current state or because she’s still angry with Marnie is unclear.  But the result is that the reunion between Hannah and Marnie never happens and the season closes with their friendship still in jeopardy.  As a writer, Dunham needed to leave one of her storylines hanging in the balance.  Otherwise, there’d be nothing for the viewer to be anxious about in the opening of Season Three.

When Hannah begins to feel all is lost, she places a desperate, last-minute call to Jessa and tells her she needs her.  Realizing she will not hear back from Jessa, at least not anytime in the near future, she then dials Adam.  It is a moment of utter despair.  Adam picks up and they somehow end up on Apple FaceTime where he can see Hannah twitching.  Adam realizes Hannah is suffering from her Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and he tells her not to move and that he’s coming.  Hannah ignores her instincts to hang up and stays on the line with Adam, watching him as he travels to her.  Then in one of the most romantic gestures I’ve seen, Adam, who is not even wearing a shirt, runs down the sidewalks of Brooklyn and down the stairs into the subway.  He finally reaches Hannah’s apartment and breaks down the door and then sweeps her into his arms.  The entire sequence, from Adam running through the streets while still looking at his phone and then busting her door down is unbelievably poetic.

Adam picks up Hannah

In an interview about her show Girls, Dunham has said that her Executive Producer, Judd Apatow, often gives her notes that read do not be afraid of emotion in your writing.  Dunham doesn’t shy away from emotion in her Season Two finale.  In fact she embraces it, and she creates a new cultural icon of the romantic gesture.  No moment like this has been shown in recent cinema or television.  It is a send up of the classic scene from the 1989 film, Say Anything, where John Cusack’s character, Lloyd Dobler, stands in the rain with a boom box over his head and plays a song for his girlfriend.  I’m not surprised that the person who creates a scene that outshines one of the 1980’s most memorable moments is Lena Dunham.  She just gave the Millennial Generation its own moment in pop culture history and cemented her place in the television medium.  It is no wonder, Girls is coming back for a third season.  Simply stated, it’s just that good.

Say Anything 2

Hannah at office“On All Fours”, the ninth episode of Girls Season Two, had a dark undertone that seemed to sweep the characters further into their destructive behaviors.  With only one episode left of the current season, it seems unlikely that any of the three remaining girls will get her act together or even fully hit rock-bottom.

Hannah continues on her downward spiral and still suffers from her latest attack of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).  For the first time this season, Lena Dunham has her character, Hannah, barely speak.  What the viewer does get to witness is her sad state and her general withdrawal from her friends.  She spends the entire episode alone and struggles with a Q-tip that she lodges too far into her ear canal.  It is the best reenactment ever done of someone trying to clean their ears.  As usual, Dunham is a master of observation and she puts a trivial grooming technique into her episode and ,somehow, turns it into a metaphor for Hannah’s current emotional and mental state.  When Hannah ends up in the ER, she acts like a scared little girl, and the viewer is invited to see just how fragile and vulnerable she is, underneath all of her witty sarcasm.  On her walk home from the hospital, she conveniently (a tactic usually reserved for network sitcoms) runs into Adam.  At this point, she craves any type of human compassion and she tries to reach out to him in her own way.  Adam tells her he is out with his new girlfriend, and then leaves her on the sidewalk alone.

Hannah runs into Adam

As predicted in my review last week, Adam is actually more scarred by this run-in than Hannah.  He masks his hurt feelings by diving head first back into a bottle of Jack Daniels.  After a night of heavy drinking and dancing, he treats his girlfriend like a cheap porn star and the viewer witnesses how disturbed Adam has become.

Adam in bed

Shoshanna, Marnie, and Ray attend a party at Charlie’s new bourgeois smart phone App Company.  Shoshanna, still feeling guilty from her tryst with a doorman, tries to avoid Ray most of the night.  Ray detects that something is off and presses her to explain why she is acting so strangely.  Shoshanna admits she held hands with a doorman, and Ray seems to not care.  For a person who usually says exactly what she is thinking, this is Shoshanna’s first attempt at deceit and manipulation.  I’m expecting it to blow-up in her face in the season finale.  Her character is still quite innocent, and her indiscretion is more about being inexperienced and naive, rather than being a female player.

Marnie sings a song at the party against a new track she laid down the previous night, and completely embarrasses herself in front of Charlie and all of his coworkers.  Charlie takes her aside to tell her that her current behavior is not cute anymore.  But, apparently, he loves her anyway because the two hook up at the end of the night.  This has been teased all season and Marnie is infatuated with Charlie and his recent success.  This might be her rock-bottom, where she will finally have to figure out what she really wants.

Marnie sings at Party

The episode concludes with Hannah lying on the floor making a distressed phone call to her parents for help.  She recognizes that her current mental state is off, and she reaches out to the two people who will not judge her.  I’m expecting her to show her stronger side again in the season finale next week, because I don’t  want to see this season end with Hannah’s destruction.  Perhaps, Hannah and Marnie will spend some time together and help one another.   Although, that is the type of happy ending that typically doesn’t happen in Cable dramedies.

Hannah on phone upset

Hannah in shrink's office“It’s Back”, the eighth episode of Girls Season Two, is mostly a filler episode.  Its main purpose is to serve as a set up for the final two episodes of the season.  The title of the episode refers to the reemergence of Hannah’s obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).  The stress of writing her first eBook, compiled with her emotional distance from her best friend, Marnie, causes Hannah to complete everyday tasks eight times each.  Whether it’s opening and closing her door eight times, eating exactly eight potato chips, or just counting to eight, she exhibits odd behavior that she claims she hasn’t had since high school.

Lucky for her, her parents happen to be visiting New York when her latest psychological issues reappear.  After much prodding, they convince her to see a psychotherapist, and in typical Hannah dialogue, she convinces the shrink that this is not your average case of OCD.  Her case is special and she really is screwed up.  It’s not surprising that someone like Hannah, who often exhibits a no-holds barred attitude about life and experiences, would suffer from some kind of slight mental disturbance.  The way in which the writers deal with it is comical as usual, and brings an almost light-heartedness to it, which helps not to throw a dark and stormy cloud over the entire episode.

The B story involves Adam asking a new girl out on a blind date and meeting her for dinner.  Much to his surprise, the woman is extremely beautiful and charming.  He even smiles for the first time all season, and the audience is left to ponder if he is now truly over Hannah.  My best guess is he most likely is not, and it will take dating this new gorgeous girl to make him realize how much he loved Hannah.

Adam at AA

There is one surprise thrown into this episode and that is that Marnie (Allison Williams) can actually sing.  I’m not sure if the character is going to pursue a new career or if it was just a way for Dunham to let the world see that Williams can not only act, but also has pretty decent pipes.  Either way, it was a pleasant and unexpected treat specially gift-wrapped by Dunham.

Marnie can sing

With only two episodes left of Season Two, I am slightly disappointed that this season is coming to a close.  However, I am eagerly anticipating that the next two episodes will be the best of the bunch, because it’s at this pivotal juncture that Dunham and her writing staff need to deliver.

“Video Games”, the seventh episode of Girls Season Two, focuses on Jessa and after a season and a half, some light is finally shed on why Jessa is the way she is.  Hannah accompanies Jessa on an overnight trip to the countryside in upstate New York, where Jessa is visiting her father.

Hannah and Jessa at Train Station

The episode starts out with the two girls being stranded at the train station and waiting hours for Jessa’s father to pick them up.  This is the first inkling the viewer gets that Jessa’s father is certainly not Parenting Magazine’s Father of the Year.  When he (Ben Mendelsohn) finally arrives, he is aloof, out of sorts and somewhat cold to his daughter.  The next scene introduces his live in-girlfriend Petula (Rosanna Arquette), an aging hippie type wearing a vintage Jefferson Starship t-shirt.  Everyone gathers around an outside picnic table for dinner, which consists of the same rabbits that Hannah petted and found cute and cuddly earlier that afternoon.  Jessa’s father announces to her that he and Petula have plans for the evening, and Jessa and Hannah are on their own.  Jessa seems quite disappointed, although she tries to hide her hurt.

Hannah and Jessa eating rabbit

In a distracting scene, Hannah and Jessa go out with two local boys and drive a sports car blindfolded through the winding country roads, while doing Whip-Its.  During this scene, Hannah is the only voice of reason and she actually gets out of the car in fear for her life.  We don’t typically see Hannah act as the level-headed one, but for a character who strives to be different and likes outside the box experiences, the entire trip to witness where Jessa has come from, makes Hannah realize she is actually the normal one.  In true Hannah fashion, she does sleep with Petula’s strange son and, I find I’m beginning to grow tired of Hannah’s carefree attitude towards her sexual encounters.  It seems that Dunham puts her character into this type of scene in almost every episode of Season Two.  Knowing that Dunham writes with purpose, I’m hoping there will be some kind of revelation about her carefree attitude towards sex somewhere near the end of this season.

The following day, Hannah and Jessa go to the local country store to stock up on edible food and once again, Jessa’s father never comes back to pick them up.  They have to walk back to the father’s house and, it’s during this walk, that Hannah realizes just how screwed up Jessa’s father is and why Jessa puts on a front of being such a carefree, liberal flowerchild type.  Unfortunately for Jessa, this is the only behavior she knows, but it’s really rather sad.  She is craving her father’s attention, but is rejected over and over again during her visit.  It’s because of this episode, that it’s now clear why Jessa rushed into marriage with Thomas John.  She has a serious need to seek male attention, whether it is the father of a child she babysits for or an uptight business man, like Thomas John.

Jessas Father

While Hannah is in the bathroom dealing with a urinary tract infection, Jessa vanishes, leaving Hannah stranded with only a note that reads, “See you around my love, X.”  The way in which Jessa appeared on Shoshanna’s doorstep in Season One, is the same whimsical way in which she departs from Season Two.  This episode concludes with Hannah phoning her parents from the train station to tell them how much she appreciates them for always being there for her.  In typical Girls fashion, the call doesn’t go smoothly; Hannah’s mother thinks Hannah is full of shit.  But whether or not Hannah’s mother believes she is genuine, Hannah knows the truth, that her upbringing, no matter how messed up or insane, doesn’t hold a candle to the way in which Jessa grew-up.

Jessa

In a look inside the episode, Dunham explains that writing this episode helps to give the viewer a chance to feel sympathy for Jessa.  Otherwise, they would have never felt anything for her.  On a whole, the episode is a success in that it properly mixes backstory with emotion to show that Dunham’s created characters, like Jessa, are not one-dimensional or mere satire.  They are deeply layered people with past wounds, and their present day actions come from a real place of conviction.

Ray and Adam with dog“Boys”, the sixth episode of Girls Season Two, primarily follows two of the male characters, Adam and Ray, as they make a trek to Staten Island to return a stolen psychotic dog.  In a great running gag about the book Little Women, Ray ends up befriending Adam when he visits him to find his missing copy of Louisa May Alcott’s famous novel.  In true Adam fashion, Ray finds a mad dog locked in Adam’s bathroom and when he discovers that Adam stole the dog from its owner, who was yelling at it, he pontificates that dogs are like family members and you can’t steal them.  Adam agrees to return the dog but only if Ray accompanies him.  What follows is Girls first look into the minds of males and their interpersonal relationships.

Going to Staten Island from Brooklyn is like Odysseus’ trip in the Odyssey.  It involves a ferry, and that can feel like ten years.  This gives the men, or boys as the episode is titled, time to talk about women, relationships, and their fears.  Adam attempts to convince Ray that he is over Hannah by using one of the best analogies I’ve ever heard.  He compares Hannah to the inflatable Tweetie Bird you win at a carnival by tossing three rings into a bucket.  It seems easy, but in reality it’s really rigged to torment you.  Then, when you finally win, you’re stuck carrying a big yellow blow up plastic toy around for the rest of the evening.  Ray agrees and makes a disparaging comment about Hannah, and Adam becomes angry, defends Hannah and yells at Ray.  He storms off leaving Ray all by himself with the muzzled dog.

Ray and Adam on Ferry

Ray continues his trek to return the dog and he encounters a Staten Island girl, on her way to work at Webster Hall, who turns out to be the daughter of the dog’s owner.  She tells him she hates the dog and doesn’t want it back.  She then hurls a slur of racial and homophobic insults at Ray and stomps off.  Ray is dumbfounded and he finds the nearest bench and breaks down crying.  His tears aren’t because the uneducated girl from Staten Island called him a “kike” and a “fag”.  They’re because he feels lost.  He’s 33 years old, works at a coffee shop and his longest relationship is the four-week long one he currently has with Shoshanna.  Earlier that morning, Shoshanna tried to convince him to take a class at the Learning Annex where Donald Trump would be speaking.  He asked her why he’d want to do that and she explained because obviously he doesn’t want to work at a coffee shop forever.  It’s not that Ray wants to serve coffee for the rest of his life, but he also doesn’t have the hang-ups that 23-year old Shoshanna has.  During their pilgrimage to that “other island”, Ray tells Adam that Shoshanna doesn’t understand.  She’s at the age when she still thinks her life will turn out exactly the way she planned.  She hasn’t experienced all the letdowns and disappointment that someone in his thirties has lived through.  Ray speaks as though he is okay with not having a perfect life, but his breakdown, later that day, shows that he is bothered by his current life status.  However, he makes some accurate points and one can see the delineation between a Millennial and a Gen Xer.

Ray and dog on bench

The B Story of this episode concentrates on Hannah and Marnie and what is going on in each of their lives.  Hannah attempts to write her first eBook, while Marnie is excited to host her first party with her new boyfriend, Booth Jonathan (Jorma Taccone).  Each girl wants the other to be happy for her, but when they try to share their world with one another, the only thing that results is failure.  Hannah attends Booth’s party to support Marnie, but she finds herself uncomfortable with Marnie’s posh artist friends and leaves after only a few minutes.  It’s not that she’s jealous of Marnie’s new life, but she isn’t sure where she fits into the puzzle.  She wants to understand Marnie and what she is experiencing, but all she really wants to do is go home and work on her eBook.

Hannah and Marnie at Booths party

If Hannah stayed longer, she would have witnessed a fight between Marnie and Booth, where Marnie realizes that Booth only wanted her for sex and to carry out personal assistant duties.  Like many naive young women, she thought that Booth was her boyfriend.  Booth gets Marnie to admit that she really only likes the idea of him, but doesn’t really like Booth himself for who he really is.  Booth has a temper-tantrum, like a two-year old who wants his mommy, and breaks several bottles of expensive wine from his wine cellar.  Marnie leaves crying, but her mood perks up when she receives a call from Hannah, who’s experiencing a serious case of first-time writer’s block.

Marnie crying in subway

The short telephone conversation concludes the episode, but it leaves the viewer with chills.  Both women are desperate for the other one’s care and understanding, but they gloss over their predicaments and lie to one another.  Hannah fibs that her writing is going extremely well, while Marnie tells Hannah how amazing the party was.  Marnie has tears in her eyes and Hannah reflects the pain she feels in her soulful expression and balled up fist.  It is at this point in the episode that Girls does a tremendous job of pinning down the intricacies of female friendships.  What is important is what Hannah and Marnie are not saying to one another.  There is an eerie uneasiness lurking just beneath their conversation, like an invisible mysterious power threatening to incinerate their friendship.  Both girls can feel it, but they can’t reach out and stop it from seeping into their relationship.  Friendships among women are often similar to male-female love relationships, in that they can often carry the same deep emotional connection despite being strictly platonic.  Many friendships are simply elements of location and time, and friends often grow up and apart.  Most women can probably remember the exact point at which they felt the divide between themselves and their best friend begin.  It’s an ugly feeling when a chasm develops and when one realizes that a person they’ve had a deep connection with may be drifting away from them.  It’s like watching someone float away on a raft and you have no ability to throw them a life saver.  You know it’s happening, but there’s no simple fix.

Any writer will tell you that it’s quite a feat to write from the point of view of the opposite sex.  So it’s not surprising that this sixth episode of Girls was co-written by male writer, Murray Miller.  He and Lena Dunham, both do an excellent job at exploring male to male bonding and female to female drifting.  Actor Alex Karpovsky, who plays Ray Ploshansky, also shines in this episode and we get to see him stretch from delivering one-liners to Hannah to almost carrying an entire episode.  I enjoyed seeing him peel off a few layers of sarcasm and show us his deeper side.  Although, he delivers the funniest line of the episode when he quips, “Whenever somebody says they want to be a writer, they really don’t want to do anything.  Except, you know, eat and masturbate.”

Grumpys argumentThe fifth episode of Girls Season Two, “One Man’s Trash”, is a departure from the regular formula that Girls follows.  The episode focuses solely on Hannah and plays like a half-hour drama, instead of the single-camera half-hour comedy ensemble show it usually is.  The episode is well-written and Hannah shares screen time with Patrick Wilson, who plays new character, Joshua.  I didn’t necessarily miss the other three characters, because I was drawn into the strange trip that Hannah takes.

Joshua comes into Grumpy’s Coffee Shop and complains that the store has been using his private trash cans.  After an argument with Ray, the coffee shop manager, the man leaves disgruntled but Hannah follows him to his private brownstone.  She innocently knocks on his door and he invites her in.  This is the only moment in this episode where I felt like I had to take a leap of blind faith.  I didn’t understand what Wilson’s character’s motivation was to invite a strange girl into his apartment.  On the other hand, Hannah blindly going into his brownstone, against her better judgment, is quite fitting with her character.

After a glass of lemonade, Hannah admits to Joshua that she is the one who has been dumping the coffee shop’s garbage into his trash cans.  Her excuse is rather convoluted, but Joshua seems to accept her explanation.  Hannah then makes a pass at Joshua and they end up in bed together.  After sleeping with the handsome 42 year-old Joshua, Hannah attempts to make a sexit.  Joshua asks her why she is leaving, and she responds that she wants to give him space.  This response by Hannah is a window into her soul.  She has become so accustomed to immature men treating her like garbage; she doesn’t feel comfortable over staying her welcome.  But Joshua begs her to stay and she does.

Patrick Wilson reading paperThe next morning, Hannah and Joshua act like any other yuppie middle-aged Brooklyn brownstone-dwelling couple, by reading the New York Times in his solarium over coffee and toast with jam.  For most people, this is an ordinary moment, perhaps even a dull moment in the life of a stable couple.  But for Hannah, this entire experience is surreal.  She looks at Joshua as he reads the paper, and one can see a calmness wash over her face.  Is Hannah finally at peace?

Joshua calls into work sick and Hannah agrees to stay for another day and evening.  At one point she decides to take a shower, and she goes into Joshua’s beautifully remodeled bathroom, and stands inside it mystified by the multiple shower heads and steam settings.  To her, this is a world she has never seen before.  Perhaps she’s caught a glimpse of it in a television show or in a trendy magazine, but she’s never lived it.  Her life involves living in a tiny apartment, rotating out insane roommates every other month, and working at a hipster coffee shop.  She never would have imagined she’d be spending a lost weekend with a good-looking, wealthy doctor, who is kind and nurturing.

Dunham breaks downAfter Hannah passes out from too much steam in the shower, Joshua consoles her and she begins crying.  When Joshua asks her what’s wrong, she delivers a monologue.  In her speech, she explains that this life that he has, that she has pretended to have for the last two days, is something she thought she’d never have.  She further details, that she has spent her entire life being an unhappy person that is against societal norms and tries to live outside the box.  But being with Joshua, in his brownstone, has made her realize that she is just like everybody else.  She too wants the beautiful home, great husband, and stable relationship.  This very fact scares her to the core, because she now questions everything she thought she knew about herself.  It is an epiphany moment for Hannah, and she may have matured in a way that previously would have been impossible.

Unfortunately for her, this bold, but honest speech makes Joshua’s eyes glaze over.  Like most men, he liked Hannah when she was sweet and in awe of him.  But as soon as she shows her vulnerable side and explains to him how she feels, he loses interest.  Hannah sees it in his demeanor and, when he tells her he needs to get to bed because he has to get up early for work.  Ultimately, Joshua may have disappointed Hannah, and their short-lived rendezvous may be over.  But, he served as a spark for Hannah’s inner-emotional journey.  It is one that she needed to take and that the viewer needed to take with her.

In an insider’s look into the episode, creator Lena Dunham explains that the idea for this episode started out as a dream that Hannah would have, but then Dunham decided to morph it into reality.  It is interesting that she remarks on this, because the tone of the episode does have a dream like quality, and, although it really happened, the way in which the events unfold is quite allegorical.  I highly respect Dunham for going in a different direction with this episode and really exploring her character.  It has elements of HBO’s other half-hour comedy show, Enlightened.  Perhaps Dunham is a fan and wanted to explore how her character, Hannah, becomes enlightened.  Overall, it was a risk that paid off.

Sweater costs more then my rentI love the series Girls for its ensemble cast and uncanny way of making the most ridiculous and disgusting things hysterically funny.  I think the series works best when all four young women have screen time and there is humor involved.  But, a strange departure now and then is what makes certain television series remind their viewers that the writers are full of novel ideas.