Girls: Playing ‘Video Games’ With Jessa’s Issues and Hannah’s Bad Taste

By  · Published on February 26th, 2013

There have already been a number of major changes in the lives of our Girls in the HBO series’ second season – Hannah has an e-book deal, Marnie is finally struggling with career and romance issues in a believable way, and Shoshanna is in the first adult relationship of her life – but nothing has been as markedly relatable as a giant life change than Jessa’s (impending? already done? totally just laying in wait until it can pop up at a more inoppurtune time?) divorce from idiot Thomas John.

While we’ve seen a bit of the fallout from their final bust-up (in previous episodes, it’s clear that Jessa might not even be showering as of now), the newest Girls episode, “Video Games,” provided us with the seemingly novel opportunity to really get inside Jessa’s head – by visiting her family. Jessa and Hannah head upstate to visit Jessa’s dad, his latest girlfriend, a pack of ill-fated rabbits, and one of Hannah’s most inappropriate paramours yet (hint: not a rabbit), and the result is a glimpse inside Jessa’s childhood, some serious regression, and a surprise ending that leaves a lot to wonder about.

After the break, Rob Hunter and I just flat out disagree on a lot of things about “Video Games.” We both, however, agree that Hannah’s got some great one-liners this time around.

Kate: I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that “Video Games,” an episode that absolutely looked like it focused on Jessa and her family life, ended up being far more invested in more of Hannah’s bullshit. Sure, we meet Jessa’s dad, who provides a pretty clear answer as to why Jessa is flighty and bad with romance, and we get a bit more in-depth on how she really feels about her break-up with Thomas John, but the rest of the episode features an unsettling amount of “Classic Hannah.” She injects herself into conversations she shouldn’t, she brags about her writing, and she finds herself interested in yet another gross and inappropriate dude. Why can’t we just move past all this? If even for one episode?

Rob: I agree with your assessment in theory, but I reached a different conclusion. After all of my clamoring for more time with non-Hannah characters this episode taught me that Jessa is not one of those characters. She’s far better in small doses as too much of her makes it clear how much of a joke she is. It also highlights her sense of cruelty that has been hinted before but is now front and center with the added bonus of an unoriginal “daddy issue.”

The flipside of that, and I’m as surprised as anyone to be saying this, is that Hannah is actually far more entertaining as a third wheel trying to get attention and traction. She had several great lines (“I really like the way you fold down your turtleneck.” and “You came in my thigh crease.”) and Dunham’s delivery made them even better. Yes she injects herself into conversations, but she does so with wit and hilarity here making it easy for me to forgive her obvious narcissism.

That said, I’ve been around plenty of girls peeing outdoors and not once has one of them done it with their ass facing me.

Kate: I did enjoy some of Hannah’s one-liners, especially “I don’t like not getting jokes,” but the fact that she insisted on zinging them during a time that was apparently highly emotional for Jessa just grated on me. We know Jessa is not in a great place, so why can’t Hannah just be there for her? Right, because she’s Hannah.

I have also never witnessed or participated in an ass-out pee. Classic Hannah!

But let’s talk about Jessa’s daddy issues. I mean, yes, we saw them coming from a mile away, but does that really detract them from having meaning and resonance? What I am saying is, I was sad for Jessa in this episode, probably for the first time ever.

Rob: I don’t know as their obviousness detracts from their power, but Jessa just didn’t sell it for me. Similarly to last season’s beginning when Hannah whined to her parents all I hear coming from Jessa here is “whaaa!” The difference is that we’ve been granted time to see Hannah in action so she becomes a fuller character. Not more likeable necessarily, but more complete. Jessa though has never had that opportunity with viewers instead only offering glimpses of her in one of two states… quirky hippie or sad panda. Now that we get an ep focused on her it’s almost all “whaaa!” and no real nuance.

The better contrast is actually to Adam. He’s also someone with limited screentime, but whether through better writing or better acting (sorry Jemima Kirke) his sadness feels legitimate and heartbreaking. Jessa’s Bohemian wanderings just can’t compare.

So I was not sad for her.

Kate: You are heartless.

Kidding. I can get that. I think that I might have been so put off by Hannah that I just ran to the next character to feel something for, and that happened to be Jessa.

Sad Panda aside, I think we must talk about Hannah’s dalliance with Jessa’s kinda-step-brother Frank, who looked like a total weirdo creep, and so was someone that she was instantly sexually attracted to. What’s up with that?

Rob: Well on the one hand it’s a far more believable hook-up then the Patrick Wilson, but on the other the character was just a joke. Dunham and her writers do well with strong central male characters, and Hannah can be a firecracker in the wit department, but as we’ve mentioned before I’m not entirely sure they have a handle on her as a whole character. Too often they fall back on go-to moves with her, and way too often that go-to move is something sexual.

It’s unnecessary and I think it ultimately hurts Hannah as a character if only because it adds nothing worthwhile.

Kate: I agree. Hannah continuing to get sexy (relatively speaking) with random boners doesn’t add much to her as a whole, and it just adds to the string if throwaway freaks the show trots out.

But this situation with Frank did come with an interesting end – when Frank says something about everyone thinking he’s in love with Tyler and how it’s really the other way around. I know there’s been some chatter about Marnie being in love with Hannah, and was wondering if this was a nod to that. Or am I insane? I don’t personally go in for the Hannah and Marnie theories, but it’s fun wondering about.

Rob: Oooh I’m always down for some lesbianic shenanigans, but that’s the first I’ve heard of a Marnie/Hannah relationship theory. Interesting. Here’s the totally sexist reason why I don’t buy it though… of the four girls, knowing both their personalities and their appearances, I’d say Marnie would be the last one to go gay. (I’m looking at you Shoshanna.) If this was a nod to that, do you think it was simply done for the fans or as an actual foreshadowing of the scissoring to come?

Kate: I think it was just a funny nod to a wacky theory. I mean, I hope so – I’d like to see Marnie engage in some more badly-planned artist-chasing before anything really earth-shattering happens.

But, speaking of earth-shattering: what do we think about Jessa’s leaving at the end of the episode?

Rob: Like father like daughter I guess. I don’t put any kind of real stock in it because she’s a secondary character and I don’t see the show wasting something big on her or Shoshanna. If and when something truly shocking happens it’ll be involving Hannah and/or Marnie.

Next week promises some much needed introspection on Hannah’s part, or at least teases it, with her attendance at therapy. My question is do we think this will result in any growth on her part or will it simply be used for laughs? And of course the opportunity for her to have sex with a therapist…

Kate: I’ll admit, I gasped when we saw Jessa’s letter, but considering that Kirke was pregnant, it was only a matter of time. I’ll miss her, but she’ll be back.

Well, my DVT cut out before that part – enlighten me, Hunter! Therapy?

Rob: Yup, we see her in a therapy session, presumably because her parents think she’s “anxious.” More exciting though is a brief scene with Adam… being introduced to a new potential love interest. And she looks perfectly normal! I’m excited for next week’s Girls!

Kate: What! Okay, after the disappointment of this week, this sounds excellent! Viva la Adam!

Rob: Damn straight. That and Toyota Camry drivers sure are cunts. Peace out until next week!

Previously on Girls: No One Is Having Fun Now, Even (Especially) the ‘Boys’

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