HBO/Girls

Last night’s episode of Girls was the show’s darkest yet. After learning that Hannah’s editor, David, died about three minutes into the episode, Lena Dunham gave us an entire episode full of conversations about death and mourning, which of course Hannah and her friends can’t fully deal with.

“He was late for our meeting and he had to reschedule the meeting because he had died,” Hannah tells Jessa after she gets home from what was supposed to have been a meeting with David to discuss her e-book. But like with everything these Girls do, the conversation immediately turns to themselves; instead of mourning David, Hannah and Jessa begin discussing and contemplating their own inevitable deaths.

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And, yes, to a certain extent it’s completely normal and rational and understandable for someone’s death to ignite fears about our own death. Accepting our temporary stay in this world is something we all need to come to terms with. Six Feet Under made six seasons of television based on this entire premise. But Hannah and Jessa’s immediate interpretation of David’s death seemed particularly shallow. The two fantasize how they would prefer to die, with Jessa declaring that we’re basically dead already, and it’s all a little jarring.

Which is where, thank God, Adam comes in. This season, Adam has been used to delivery incredibly meta commentary, to the point that it sometimes feels like Dunham took his lines directly from Girls think pieces. So when Hannah tries to tell Adam that she wishes someone would tell her what is going to happen to her e-book now that David is dead, Adam serves as a voice of reason, telling Hannah that maybe, just maybe, the people David worked with are grieving that David died and not too concerned with Hannah’s e-book right now.

On the topic of Adam, he and Hannah have a nice little meta conversation about Gawker and snarky bloggers and media news. Adam doesn’t understand why Hannah feels the need to read snarky commenters who are “celibate not by choice,” while Hannah feels that it’s her duty to read the site because she is a media professional. Not hard to figure out that Adam’s position is probably closer to Dunham’s IRL.

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Jessa, Marnie and Shoshannah don't really do much this episode except support just how selfish, shallow and narcissistic all four of these girls are. The result is that their subplots feel a little forces and don't totally work. It turns out that a friend who Jessa thought died had actually faked her own death to get away from Jessa; having Jessa in her life was actually that toxic. Marnie on the other hand is so oblivious to her friends' lives that she doesn't even know Hannah's editor died because she's too busy making smoothies and doing pull ups. That's some pretty crazy detachment, even for these narcissists.

Probably the most interesting little series of exchanges in the episode stems of a conversation when Hannah, Laird and Caroline are hanging out in the graveyard. Caroline decides to tell Hannah a story that can help Hannah understand why Adam is so upset that Hannah isn't mourning. It's a sob-inducing tale about their cousin “Margaret,” who died as a teenager. Of course, this is sociopathic Caroline we’re dealing with, and after she realizes that Hannah completely bought the story, she reveals that the whole thing was made up. While Hannah is angry that she was lied to, but it’s Laird who’s crying, even after Caroline reveals that the whole story was a lie. “Just because it’s not real doesn’t mean I don’t feel it,” he says.

Laird plays as a nice foil to Hannah, who is experiencing a real death and can’t feel it. So, when Hannah returns from the graveyard and finds Adam on the stoops, she proceeds to use Caroline’s story, telling it to Adam as a way to relay how she has a difficult time dealing with grief. Which, ok two thoughts. First, on a practical level, this has so much potential to blow up in Hannah’s face based on the fact that this is a pretty serious lie and Adam would only need to have a short conversation with Caroline to realize that it is in fact a lie. Second, on a deeper level, this could be a sign that Hannah is adopting some of the manipulative characteristics of Caroline’s that Adam is so repulsed by. So, yeah, sure this will turn out great.

Some observances:

  • Really great directing in the first scene of the episode; using wide shots to sit back and allow the action to happen. The shots did a good job conveying how awkward and confused Hannah was contrasted with how hectic the office was as they all found out about David’s death.
  • “Hey Jessa, how’s your life doing absolutely f***ing nothing?” I like honest Adam.
  • Gawker “wrote” about David: “Publishing’s most flamboyant power player makes a water-logged exit worthy of a Brett Easton Ellis character.” It’s kind of weird to think that David was actually pretty successful and well-known in the publishing industry and I guess Hannah’s e-book deal might have been a bigger deal than it originally seemed?
  • Speaking of the Gawker conversation, Hannah says: “And it’s sister site, Jezebel, is a place feminists can go to support one another, which we need in this modern world full of slut shaming.” This whole exchange hit a really awkward tone after Dunham's Jezebel retouching controversy.
  • Caroline’s story was good. I think Caroline could have a future writing for Grey’s Anatomy.