Girls: We Didn’t Even Know What It Was in the First Place, But Now ‘It’s Back’

By  · Published on March 4th, 2013

Time to throw all our other superlatives out the window – turns out, the most memorable episode of Girls second season won’t be that Patrick Wilson one or the one where Jessa leaves or even the one where Adam and Ray go on a terrible adventure together – it’s the one in which we learn that Hannah (Lena Dunham) has OCD. And, moreover, that’s she had it the entire time we’ve “known” her and she’s just been hiding it from everyone (not just her friends and admirers, but Dunham’s own audience). What? Exactly.

Elsewhere, Adam (Adam Driver) goes on a great new date (with Shiri Appleby), Marnie (Allison Williams) learns about Charlie’s (Christopher Abbott) new life, and Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet) starts sowing some wild oats while Ray (Alex Karpovsky) waits patiently at home. Were you looking for something to shake up the Girls world? Boom, here it is.

After the break, Rob Hunter and I continue the Adam Driver lovefest, argue about the implications of Hannah’s newly-revealed OCD, and don’t really miss Jessa at all.

Kate: Well, first of all, what? Second of all, otherwise, what a great episode!

Pushing aside the obvious, major development with Hannah (something I am sure we’ll be discussing at length soon), this episode of Girls was one of the most well-balanced, character-developing, and narrative-pushing entries yet. We get to see the cracks forming in Ray and Shoshanna’s relationship, Marnie has a breakthrough, and Adam looks to be on the road to recovery – it seems like getting rid of Jessa (at least for now) has opened up the show to a more satisfying balance between the characters still around, and that signals an interesting sea change in the show.

Rob: It’s amazing the difference in the show depending on who’s the focus isn’t it? I couldn’t care less about Jessa’s developments over a full episode last week, but this one had me riveted between Adam and Marnie. They’re the two most interesting characters, for wholly different reasons obviously, and they engage like no one else on the show. Ray and Shoshanna are funny sure, but I don’t find myself necessarily caring about them. You know what I mean? But Adam is just a ball of electric brilliance who remains one of the most hilarious characters on TV. And Marnie… poor self-deluded Marnie. Alison Williams is doing good work there as someone we can dislike but have begrudging respect for as she’s trying to move forward.

And I apparently forgot that Hannah has OCD…?

Kate: I am so pleased that Adam is still around – though, of course, I realize this means that they are likely still setting him up a romantic foil for Hannah – and I can’t help but be riveted by him. Unlike everyone else, Adam actually seems invested in growing in a truly mature way – he’s been in AA since he was 17, for chrissakes!

And, Marnie, oh, Marnie. Singing? Okay. I mean, sure, she’s good at it, but now she’s so strapped for help that she’s taking advice from a homeless guy.

Oh, no, you didn’t forget that. We just learned about it last night.

Rob: Yeah, I hate admitting I’m this invested, but I will be livid if Hannah fucks up Adam’s chances with this new girl. Unless she’s hiding a male member between her legs she seems pretty perfect for him, and he deserves pretty perfect. But seriously, the writing and performing that goes into that character are phenomenal. His speech at AA? His rambling call to the girl? Crazy good stuff there.

And Marnie being a singer is silly, but I love seeing her flail because it means she’s still trying to stay afloat. We believe that she “mentally budgeted six years of brokenness” for Charlie, and we believe she’s genuinely shocked by his success. She needs to strike out on her own, and while I don’t think singing will be it I just love seeing her try.

And Hannah. I still don’t care all that much, but I will say this is the first time I found myself impressed with Dunham’s acting. She did more with her eyes in this episode than she’s done with her naked boobs, ass and bajango throughout the entire series. And that’s saying something.

Kate: I think it’s assumed at this point that Adam and Hannah are going to continue to just fuck things up for each other. Sorry, Hunter.

I think we might have all budgeted some brokenness for young Charlie – he just seemed so fragile. Good on him for using that for something productive, everyone else on the show could learn from that.

Can we circle back to your comment about forgetting Hannah had OCD? This is the first time we really see something about this – it comes as quite a shock, honestly – and it changes up a lot of stuff about the show and her character for me. While Marnie alluded to her compulsive masturbation during their blowout fight last season, it just seemed like some typically weird Hannah nonsense – the OCD reveal changes everything we know about her, don’t you think?

Rob: Yes and no. Yes because something this serious has to make us re-evaluate her behavior as someone who has suffered and is again suffering from a mental illness…but no because it’s still Hannah. I’m hesitant to give her my empathy because her odd combination of narcissism and low self esteem is always sitting there, coiled like a douchey snake and ready to strike.

And a quick comment on Charlie…it’s odd and disorienting how much time has apparently passed between episodes. It’s realistic, but it seems weird to see him all of a sudden with a bank account and employees.

Kate: But doesn’t this make you want to reevaluate so much of what we’ve seen from Hannah before? Isn’t this a whole new lens?

It’s totally weird to see Charlie in an office with people asking him for help – but, wait, what the hell was he doing before? Maybe he’s been a secret tech genius this whole time!

Rob: No.

We’re almost two full seasons in meaning sixteen episodes of her behaving like a self-centered tool, so no, I’m not about to re-evaluate her based on a single episode. We’ll see where she goes from here, but again, I’m warning you and Hannah and Lena Dunham and HBO and Judy Collins…if she ruins Adam again I will never forgive any of them.

Kate: Oh, vicious! I’m filled with less ire for Hannah because, if this OCD thing is real (and it certainly sounds like it is), that’s something that has informed and colored everything she’s done so far. Even more interesting? She’s got a deep sense of shame about it, as she’s never once used it for pity. A Hannah with shame? That’s something.

Hunter, I also pray for Adam’s safety, but lets just prepare ourselves.

Rob: But it’s not like an illness that affected her in high school is any excuse or explanation for her behavior in the years since. I feel for what she’s going through now, but does it really have any bearing on her adult life? I say no. It’s not like she’s been obsessively stripping and screwing guys in clusters of eight.

Kate: I think this is where we might differ. Even if she hasn’t been exhibiting signs of her illness – and she definitely was not, which is why this reveal initially struck me as so bonkers – it still affects her, in terms of stress in hiding it, an effort to keep it controlled, that sort of thing. Yeah, she wasn’t doing things in rows of eight, but if she’s as sick as she is now, she was battling it for awhile before it bubbled up. This isn’t a thing she went through in high school – it’s present now. An excuse? Eh, maybe not, but at least Hannah finally has SOME reason to be so fucked up.

Rob: Except I don’t believe any of that stress was was felt or in need of being hidden. Remember it’s these new stresses (book, love life, etc) that have actually triggered its return, so the fact that it hasn’t been present since high school most likely means similar triggers haven’t been present (and that Dunham and the other writers hadn’t thought to afflict Hannah with OCD until now). Basically I think it’s serious now and will give it the respect it deserves, but I just don’t see any retroactive validation or weight in it.

Kate: I think we just need to see how this plays out before determining if the OCD was coloring Hannah before we found out about it, as I’m still convinced it’s a factor in previous Hannah actions. Admittedly, it certainly feels like it was just tossed in, but, again, there was a reference to Hannah’s compulsive masturbation last season, and Dunham has also grappled with OCD in the past, so I’m convinced this wasn’t as out of left field as it originally felt.


Kate: Do you want to just talk about Adam now?!

Rob: I’m not ashamed of my love for Adam.

And look, I’m not being intentionally dismissive of Hannah’s issues, but they’re just not nearly as compelling or interesting or hilarious or believable or fun or enjoyable or sweet or relatable or well written or well acted as Adam’s. I’m curious to see where she goes next, and my compassion for her may grow, but it’s just too soon to assume anything.

Kate: What do we think is next for Adam? More nice dates? Getting waylaid by Hannah? Clearing out all those packing pallets in his home?

Rob: Hopefully a couple episodes worth of joy and happiness before Hannah drags him back down into the abyss….

Kate: And in other couple news – any hope for Marnie and Charlie? Are Shoshanna and Ray doomed?

Rob: Well, Shoshanna has cheated on Ray, so whether or not they could have made it is pretty moot at this point. He should break up with her for both of their sakes. I like Ray, but he really should get his shit together before entering into a serious relationship.

As for Marnie and Charlie…I’m a bit torn. I’ve never been his biggest supporter, but while his new career feels hollow without having seen him work for it I’m happy for anyone who achieves success. He still seems like a bit of a weenie though doesn’t he? Marnie wants him back for the wrong reasons, something she’ll hopefully realize as yet another in a long line of life lessons, so I’d like to see her move forward and him simply move.

Kate: I think we could still get our Boys spinoff…

Rob: I haven’t wanted a spinoff this much since Sam Puckett (Jennette McCurdy) came of age on iCarly.

Kate: And, on that note…

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

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