Quarterlife Lessons From the HBO Show “Girls”: S2E6-E9

(Post about the season 2 premiere is here, the post about S2E2 is here, the one about S2E4 is here. S2E5 here. No, I didn’t write about episode 3, and I slacked off for 4 episodes. Stop yelling at me.)

Tonight is going to be the season two finale of the HBO show Girls, in order to honor Lena Dunham, I decided to finally stop procrastinating, hunker down, and blog about the last 4 episodes during my one-month blogging hiatus.

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“Boys” Season 2 6th episode or #16 overall

Or the episode where you realize that Ray is a lot more screwed up that you thought before

(Official HBO recap video and “Inside the Episode”)

This episode is aptly named because just like none of the four central female protagonists have matured into real women yet, none of the male ones are real men either. They’re dudes, they’re guys, and they’re boys.

I love, love, love the scenes with Adam and Ray. When Adam randomly asks Ray for help, he was flattered that someone would deem him manly enough for “extra muscle type of backup.: And when Ray agrees, Adam awkwardly says “Ummm alright. Ummm thank you,” it’s so endearing but you realize that he is simply not used to expressing gratitude. When will our society stop pushing socially constructed gendered roles and instead encourage open communication in men, starting when they’re young’uns? I want to know.

Anyway, I think what happened is that before, Ray at least feels like he’s better than a few people in the world and that included Hannah, but now that Hannah might become a semi-legit writer, he feels the need to belittle her to feel better about himself. Ray tries to get Adam to agree with him, thinking it’ll be real easy to hate on an ex, but Adam surprisingly is very honest about the situation, which is that “everyone’s difficult” and they are both flawed.

LESSONS:

  1. If you have to barf in public, try to do it into a trash can– When Hannah gets offered an e-book deal verbally (…seriously, I would ask for that stuff in a legal document to sign and date), she gets so nervous that she throws up right outside a café, onto a tree by the curb to much of the other patrons’ horror. I used to get sick a lot when I was in elementary school, so I know from personal experience that you should try to master the skill of holding that in or run for the nearest dumpster, ditch, or toilet.
  2. Women and men have very different ideas about what outlines the steps mark the progress of a romantic relationship.- When Booth Jonathan asks Marnie to host a party at his house for him, both Shoshanah and Marnie immediately assumes that this means he thinks she’s girlfriend material when really, Marnie’s just a good PR hostess to him. I can totally see the ladies’ reasoning: “Oh I’ll be presented as the lady of his house to all his friends and party guests? I must be his girlfriend! Totes.” It is tricky to know whether someone introduces you to his friends because he likes you and wants his friends to get to know you, or if as soon as you go to the bathroom, he smirks and boasts to his friends “Yeah so I’ve banging THOSE great tits wassup?!” 
  3. Do not think you can change a person from the outside.- Sometimes I think Shoshannah’s character is there to remind the readers that once upon a time, we were all really stupid about our first relationships. Shoshannah looks up workshops on how to be successful for Ray? COME ON. Real change comes from within. If the person himself does not have real motivation to improve, it does not matter what sort of knowledge or persuasion others provide, however much they may love him. True- Very often when a man encounters a woman who inspires him to do better, he does, but “trying to change a broken, crappy person is too much of a leap and therefore will result in failure.
  4. People who turn around and accuse you when you call them out on their mistakes are the worst.– When Marnie tells Booth Jonathan that he clearly has been leading her on into thinking he’s dating her seriously, he dismisses this quickly and throws a tantrum about how nobody knows the real him and that people just like the idea of what he represents. First of all, no one forced him to pretend to be someone else and tell lies. That is his personal choice. Secondly, that is still not an excuse for treating someone terribly. Lastly, what an interesting timing to bring this up when you could have discussed this earlier when someone isn’t yelling at you.
  5. Don’t let pride come in the way of personal relationships.– For me, the saddest part of this episode was the end, when Hannah is stuck on a writer’s block after Jessa tells her “This book doesn’t matter…Not to the people who read it, or to you” and she calls a newly dumped Marnie clearly looking for support. The silence on the phone was so painful because you can see on their faces that they both miss each other but both feel like they have to keep up a front that they’re happy and doing perfectly well in their life when they’re absolutely not.

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“Video Games” Season 2, 7th episode or #17 overall

Or the episode where you meet Jessa’s father and you’re like, “Ah yes that’s why she’s the way she is.”

(Official HBO recap video and “Inside the Episode”)

Let’s see: Jessa’s father was incredibly late. He made promises that he didn’t keep. Bounces on plans he made without regards for anyone else. Alternates between being extremely fun cool bohemian and incredibly frustrating good-for-nothing slacker. Sounds like anyone you know? Yep, his daughter.

LESSONS:

  1. Meeting someone’s family and understanding how they grew up will reveal a lot about that person.– Not saying that the environment we grew up in and the family we have direct cause and effect on our personalities. Plenty of kids from broken homes grow up to be awesome adults, and even the most perfect families can somehow raise very disturbed children, but these factors definitely have a big influence. You can either choose to work really hard to not be like your parents or end up in their circumstances because they were terrible, or you end up exactly like them because that’s the only thing you know.
  2. You can keep giving someone chances but after so many failures for them to rise to the occasion, you have to eventually let go and accept that’s just how they are.– The scene with Jessa on the swing with her dad was heartbreaking. She had always been waiting for him to step in and be a real father but he never could or did. She kept trying, thinking oh this time, it’ll be different. After making excuses for someone for so long, it’s time to step back and admit that this person is just different or not good enough for you. This is extremely difficult. I tend to rationalize and try to “understand where they’re coming from” when people behave badly, but now I realize that some people just suck and there’s nothing you can do about it.
  3. You can’t escape your problem by trying to leave them behind.- In typical Jessa-fashion, she leaves Hannah a casual “See you around, my love” note at the end of the episode and we have no idea where she has gone. Even as you move physically to a different location or pretend that they don’t exist, serious personal problems stick with you no matter what. A change of scenery might distract you for a bit but you have to be brave and either accept obstacles as non-issues or deal with them head-on.

This is a joke advice, but ladies, you probably also shouldn’t hook up with someone who’s both a lot younger than you AND a virgin. Only either or!

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 “It’s Back” Season 2, 8th episode or #18 overall

Or the episode where Hannah’s OCD comes back, you suddenly see Adam as “wait, he’s kinda cute, what?” and OMG Shoshannah cheats on Ray!

(Official HBO recap video and “Inside the Episode”)

A lot of people may feel like Hannah’s obsessive-compulsive disorder came out of nowhere and that was just a cheap shot to add to the plot, but perhaps the point is exactly that- A lot more people than we realize suffer from psychological problems that are diagnosed clinically. Personally I definitely have gotten close to people before I discover that they have depression, anxiety disorder, addiction, etc. It’s not likely that people parade around waving flags of their problems.

When Adam goes to an AA meeting voluntarily and makes a very honest confession, I was conflicted between praising him for wanting to better himself but also thinking, “Hmm maybe you should go see a psychiatrist instead of only focusing on your alcohol addiction.” And when Natalia’s mom approaches him and when he goes out on a first date with Natalia, Adam actually acts like a polite dude who’s just slightly awkward and quirky, I was also super torn. I was impressed that he has this side to him but at the same time, it’s alarming to think that such a dark person could suddenly behave completely normal. It’s unsettling to think that maybe some of the seemingly amicable dudes you’ve gone on dates with are the type of guys who would steal someone’s dog.

LESSONS:

  1. If you feel embarrassed or ashamed to introduce your boyfriend/girlfriend to your friends, something’s not right with your relationship.– When Ray and Shoshannah ran into her friend at the park, Ray’s immediate reflex is to make fun of her and Shoshannah reluctantly says that this is her boyfriend. The excitement of having sex/having a boyfriend/falling in love for the first time is starting to wear off and what’s left is that she’s obviously dating down. If you’re not proud to be seen with someone in public, then you most likely should not date them.
  2. If you haven’t seen your friend for a while because you have been ignoring them for your boyfriend/girlfriend and you two finally hang out, you should only talk about your dating life when your friend asks you about it.– I’m sure when Reedica (sp?) invites Shoshannah to her apartment party, she did not do so because she wants to hear her friend rant about her boyfriend for an hour. Have some respect and ask your friend how they’ve been doing when you were busy snogging.
  3. If you’re going to see your ex on purpose and try to make them jealous or make them see what they’re missing, at least fix yourself up.– *Cough MARNIE* When Marnie hears that Charlie’s suddenly successful and has his shit together, she couldn’t resist wanting to see all of it herself. Already not off to a good start, but could she have at least gone home and change out of her sweats? Geez!

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 “On All Fours” Season 2, 9th episode or #19 overall

Or the episode where you feel so crappy after watching it because it seems like humanity is doomed

(Official HBO recap video and “Inside the Episode”)

Shoshannah lies to Ray about the doorman. Marnie surprise-sings at Charlie’s office party and they hook up for obviously very fucked up reasons. Hannah goes off to the deep end of OCD from the pressure of the e-book and Jessa’s unexplained disappearance. And Adam reverts to his old ways, much to everyone’s disappointment.  Literally none of the central characters does or experiences anything good in this episode.

As for Adam, my guess is that at Natalia’s friend’s engagement party, he realizes he does not fit into this world of hers at all and he knows he cannot keep up the act for forever. He’s mad at himself for this fact as well, so he self-sabotages by demeaning Natalia into breaking up with him first.

LESSONS:

  1. Be wary when someone is suddenly extra super nice to you.– Shoshannah is eerily way too attentive to Ray when he has a cold because she feels guilty about hooking up with the doorman. She nervously stutters “I just want to take care of you because you’re my boyfriend. What’s wrong with that?” Stating that was more for her own benefit than to answer Ray’s question. Realistically speaking, if someone unexpectedly treats you much nicer than usual, there are only a few possibilities: (1) They love you and want every day to be a special occasion like birthdays, anniversaries and holidays (2) They have a hidden agenda to get something extra out of you (3) They’re trying to compensate for something.
  2. A half-truth is worse than a complete lie.– Shoshannah was acting estranged throughout the entire party and when Ray finally makes her confess, she fibs and says that she held hands with a doorman. It seems to me that Ray doesn’t want to let Shoshannah go and lets her off the hook way too easily, because as innocent as she is, he has to know that her level of recent strange behavior does not match up to the crime that she owns up to. The truth always comes out eventually, and when it does, the people lied to would be even more mad and offended because telling a half-truth shows that someone was trying to deceive you more but also tries to make themselves feel better.
  3. If you’re going to surprise someone, please be very very sure that they would enjoy the surprise.- Probably should check in with that person’s close friends or family first. The scene of Marnie at Charlie’s party was atrocious not because of the singing performance. She was pretty good in fact. Rather, it was the self-entitled, self-righteous way how she treated the whole thing. She acted like the hostess of the party when she has nothing to do with the company. She very confidently congratulates Forbid for their success and wants to provide the guests “a treat”? She was completely delusional.

So excited for tonight’s finale!!!

Chin

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