Disclaimer: Spoiler Alerts for GIRLS Season Three!
Ok, I’m totally obsessed. You know how much I love tv, and I seriously have a schedule for what I watch each week. But I’m totally skipping all these other shows in order to watch GIRLS. I’m on season three already and it’s only been like two weeks. The thing is, I don’t even love the show! It’s not super entertaining like Sex and the City or Modern Family…it doesn’t make me laugh. I’m not even super invested in the characters. Honestly, it feels like I’m just being voyeuristic, like looking into someone’s apartment. I mean, Lena Dunham is naked in like every other scene! Usually, I love the aesthetic of a show. Either the clothing, the setting or even the witty banter between characters. GIRLS doesn’t have any of that, but for some weird reason I’m still strangely driven to see what’s going to happen next.
So what’s with this Adam character? He was totally terrifying in Season one. A sex addict? Totally disgusting and rude in bed with Hannah? Living in that disgusting apartment? I cringed every time he was on screen. But now, by season three he’s actually getting more attractive to me! He’s supremely intuitive and doesn’t put up with any of Hannah’s bullshit, which everyone else does. And he’s still completely unambitious, (what’s with all the male characters being completely unambitious??) but his personality is not bad. At least we don’t have to watch them have sex in season three. That is just gross!
I’ve been thinking a lot about Adam’s character since we started discussing the show, and I had a total lightbulb moment yesterday while I was reading Lenny, Lena Dunham + Jenni Konner’s newsletter (are you a subscriber?). She’s got an excerpt in there from her limited edition ebook Is It Evil Not to Be Sure?, which Lena describes as a “year’s worth of personal reflections”—something like a diary but more stream of consciousness.
One particular revelation struck me:
I’ve spent my entire 20s believing that my cynical, at times comically revolting, vision of sex was a result of being assaulted (which happened a few months after these diary entries stopped). But these “creative snippets and observations” remind me that I always had a dour approach to the act, a sense it was some weird piece of theater that left everyone exposed and no one satisfied. My essential nature was compounded, not created, by the violation I experienced. That comforts me in some way.
I never knew Lena Dunham was writing from the perspective of someone who’s experienced sexual assault. Doesn’t that make so much sense when you think of a character like Adam? Notice how she even refers to sex as a “weird piece of theater that left everyone exposed and no one satisfied.” Isn’t that EXACTLY how you’d describe those early sex scenes with Adam??
Oh wow, that totally makes sense. And is really tragic. It makes sense that she would write sex scenes from this place of total disconnect, male dominance, and barely any female active participation.
I’m almost at the end of season three now and the one episode that really struck me was the one where Hannah’s grandmother dies. Lena Dunham is so incredibly intuitive and able to capture the human experience, that it amazes me. True brilliance to write all of these complicated and deep characters who really truly struggle, but don’t necessarily think about. Like in that episode. her mother and her two sisters are literally putting Post Its on each item in their mother’s house; splitting up her items before she even dies. Every vase and picture frame had a colored Post-It, and I kept thinking about how Lena Dunham did that purposefully, to show us, in this background scene where the sisters were talking about who should receive their mother’s engagement ring, that the rest of her items had already been split up. So incredibly materialistic and tragic. Their mother’s life is now reduced to a green, pink, or blue Post-It.
And OMG how she died. She fully recovers and Hannah has this amazing bonding moment with her. As a viewer, you think the sisters now have to put the house back the way it was…but as Hannah returns to the city, she gets a phone call from her cousin that her grandmother had a heart attack and died. It’s so shocking, even though the whole episode led you to this moment. And so visceral.
I don’t really like the other characters though. Their stories are just not that enchanting to me.
And something else I need to talk about? People feeling invisible. That’s a whole other story.
Season 3 was definitely really heavy—even bleak in parts. Keep watching, though. Season 3 sets us up for some pretty fantastic stuff.
One of my favorite episodes was when Hannah gets that soul-crushing corporate job. It makes sense in a responsible adult sense, and it’s the path most of us take, but I was so curious to see what would happen when she walked away from it. Chasing your dreams in an uncertain future is scary! I love when she asks Ray (FULL SCREAMING VOICE), “Do you think that I think this is the best use of my literary voice and my myriad talents??” Haven’t we all struggled with that question?
Speaking of Ray, you must love Ray, right?? He might just be my favorite character! He’s the only voice of reason, yet he’s engaging in this silly tryst with Marnie. He’s like the older, wiser role model, but Shoshanna broke up with him precisely because he wasn’t focused or driven enough. I love the way things develop between Ray and Marnie with Shoshanna wanting Ray back and Marnie wanting Desi.
What I appreciate most about GIRLS is how fully flawed the characters are. They’re deep and complex. They want things that make them seem foolish yet totally relatable. They experiment with life in ways that scare me but also excite me. I’m dying for you to get into Season 4!