Things are getting tough in Girlstown. A week after Lena Dunham’s series had its most controversial/wonderful episode yet, we get plunged back into the darkest depths of life in the big city with “Boys.” Well, as dark as they can get. While Hannah (Dunham) gets an e-book deal (which is a thing now?), seemingly setting the stage for a happy episode, she vomits into the bushes immediately after getting the biggest career boost of her life. How fitting, because it’s all downhill from there, as Marnie (Allison Williams) is forced to confront the real nature of her relationship with the unbelievably-still-around Booth Jonathan (Jorma Taccone), Jessa (Jemima Kirke) apparently abandons bathing, and Ray (Alex Karpovsky) and Adam (Adam Driver) (yes, you read that pairing right) go on an adventure to Staten Island. You won’t believe how many people cry by this episode’s end – and maybe you will, too.
After the break, Rob Hunter and I discuss the most depressing episode of Girls yet, wonder just what the hell an “e-book” is, and envision our own Adam and Ray variety hour.
Kate: Just a week after Girls’ “best,” “worst,” or “most deranged” episode ever, we get what might well be the series’ most despressing entry yet. In “Boys,” no one is happy – not the boys, not the girls, and not the audience. Of course, it all kicks off with what should be something great – Hannah is tasked with writing her first e-book – but everything starts spiraling out of control once Hannah realizes she has nothing to write about, Jessa reveals herself to be in a bad way, Shosh starts trying to change Ray, Marnie learns the truth about Booth Jonathan, and Adam and Ray go on an adventure. Rob, you didn’t agree with my superlatives about last week’s ep, how do you feel about “Boys”?
Rob: Well, first off I want to propose the theory that since Hannah never gets naked this episode may actually be a dream.
That uncertainty aside this is a pretty solid episode. Leading off the plus column is the fact that much of the ep focused on Ray and the return of Adam. I’ll say again, and probably not for the last time, that I would watch a Boys spinoff in a heartbeat. The guys here are often the most honest and purely entertaining characters in the show. Adam’s insight into his relationship with Hannah and Ray’s with Shoshanna was raw but entertaining as hell. I was also thrilled to see their efforts to add color to the series included bringing in a female Korean…only to be saddened two minutes later when she was fired. Hurray for affirmative action!
What did you think of the male bonding and the trip to Staten Island?
Kate: I think that I was laboring under the delusion that Ray and Adam – two “kinda weird-looking dudes” – were already pals, probably because they seem like such an obvious match. But while Marnie crying and Hannah smashing her phone were the most obvious “oh, this is sad” parts of the episode, every conversation between Adam and Ray was like a dagger to the heart. Painful, rich, weird stuff. I loved it. I’d watch the hell out of “Boys.” But what about the other boy in the ep – Booth Jonathan? How come it’s Booth that gets to have a breakthrough/down about how much he hates his life and not, well, someone else we actually care about?
Rob: Yeah, Booth Jonathan needs a smackdown, and Marnie’s “duh!” moment when she realized she was nothing but a fuckable employee to the little hobbit offered the perfect opportunity…and, of course, she blew it. He’s a self serving little prick, and while his tantrum is more for attention than anything else he’s not wrong about no one liking him. Which is why I don’t understand Marnie’s attraction to him. Is she just that shallow that the lifestyle appeals beyond all else? And I have to say again that Marnie’s efforts to cover her body have grown really distracting. Sure Booth is an exhibitionist, but her holding the covers tightly to her chest then walking away with the entire blanket is just annoying me at this point. Don’t do the scenes if you can’t do them believably.
And since you mentioned it…Marnie and Ray’s emotional breakdowns prove that neither Allison Williams nor Alex Karpovsky have mastered the crying-on-cue part of acting 101.
Kate: Was I the only one that thought that Marnie was finally going to assert herself and just sweep all of Booth’s (surely pricey) wine on to the floor of his little wine cellar? I so wanted her to do that, and was so disappointed when she didn’t. It made Booth’s weak and casual tossing of his own wine that much more infuriating. He even got the last bottle throw!
I would hope that Marnie isn’t as shallow as that entire sequence made her seem. I thought that when she was hosting the party with Booth that she liked doing that as Booth Jonathan’s girlfriend, not as Booth Jonathan’s girlfriend, if you can get the distinction. But, also, I don’t buy that she actually likes hanging out with him. He seems just awful, which means that Marnie was probably just hanging around for the glory. Marnie, you can do better. In every way.
So far, Jessa’s crying is the only Girls crying I’ve gone for. Speaking of Ray’s breakdown, well, what did you think? Is Ray okay? I don’t think so.
Rob: Yeah, I’m worried about that guy. I hate that we had that beautiful moment between Ray and Shoshanna in the subway two eps ago only to jump straight to him having a breakdown now…why not give us some good times between them before they have to fall apart?! But the truth in Adam’s biting critique is unavoidable, so this feels inevitable. Hopefully he comes out the other side unscathed, but while the show doesn’t feel like the type that would ever get truly dark it’s anyone’s guess what Dunham has planned.
And since I mentioned Dunham…should anyone be impressed that she was asked to write an e-book? It’s basically a Word doc.
Kate: I think the e-book is a good step for Hannah, and it would be much more impressive if she actually had something to write about. Hannah is constantly looking for material, touting her own great talent and yet, when it’s time to use it, she’s stuck. The e-book might not thrill, but we can only hope it’s a catalyst for Hannah getting fucking real about her talent, dedication, and professional abilities.
Kate: And anyway! For an episode about the boys, I sure missed Elijah and Charlie. How about you?
Rob: I don’t mean to be dismissive of Hannah’s dreams (yes, I do), but I’d probably care more about her talents if I’d ever actually seen them. Instead we’re left being told that she’s a fantastic writer instead of seeing it for ourselves. I mean, even Doogie Howser MD shared his writing with us each episode. The question is will we see her become a success? I’m not sure the show is interested in seeing her reach a level of acceptance like that.
And of course I miss Elijah, but like we mentioned previously he and Charlie both seemed to get the big goodbye a few eps ago. Not that anyone will miss Charlie.
Kate: That’s totally true – the only time we’ve really heard any of Hannah’s writing was at that tragic “salon” where she shared something that she’d penned on the subway on the way there that was just not that impressive. It’s hard to for me to imagine that she’s as good as everyone says she is, because she is so self-concerned and self-obsessed that I find it unfathomable that she’s able to write about characters even slightly different than herself. How boring is that? Hannah’s writing can only improve when her life improves, but she still seems convinced that leading a life that’s only rich in herself is the best way to go. She’s so wrong.
I don’t think we are done with Charlie yet, especially since Marnie is ostensibly single now.
Rob: You’re probably right about Charlie coming back, but seriously, does anyone anywhere care about him?And now that the season is officially half over do you have any thoughts as to where it and its characters are heading? Like I said, I’ll be surprised if they let Hannah become a real success, but I wonder if the season will end with her completed book or if we’ll actually get to see its uneventful publication. If Marnie returns to Charlie will Hannah return to Adam? As much as I love him I don’t see that helping Hannah’s life improve.
Kate: Here’s what I foresee for the rest of the season: Hannah’s book will come out and it will be a tremendous bust, likely with some sort of horrifying release party; Charlie is going to put the hard press on Marnie to get her back; Jessa will act out in a really destructive way; Ray will break up with Shoshanna to “save” her and immediately regret it, but she won’t take him back; and Adam will do something insane – I.e. something normal, which will freak Hannah out behind anything.
Rob: I believe all of that and would love to see it, but I have one question. Do they really hold release parties for e-books?
Kate: Oh, I’m sure “they” don’t, but Hannah will.
Rob: So true. The Boys spinoff can’t come soon enough…
Kate: Or just a Ray and Adam variety hour.