Monday, January 14, 2013

"Girls" - "It's About Time": Fuck me? Fuck you!

     Hannah (Lena Dunham), Shoshannah (Zosia Mamet), and
     Marnie (Allison Williams) pull out their brave faces on "Girls"
     Photo Credit: HBO

Maybe I'm way off base, but it always seemed to me that most of the detractors of the first season of HBO's "Girls" hated it because they largely didn't understand it. They found it annoying, they found it pretentious, and they didn't think Lena Dunham and co deserved to be saying any of the things they were saying about life and the world as twentysomethings. But they didn't understand that the unlikeable characters and the repellant tone were both intentional and essential to telling a purposeful story and engaging with the audience in such an effective and interesting way.

So it seems only fitting that Sunday (January 13) night's second season premiere, "It's About Time", set out to raise the stakes on every character's colossal screw-ups to really drive home to the h8rs that everything they didn't like about the show was primarily a result of their misreading the message.

That isn't to say that Dunham set out to write an episode solely to try to prove people wrong. "Girls" has alienated a lot of people and at this point, barring a few new eyeballs from awards attention or people who didn't spend last spring reading countless thousands of words about the show online, they're basically preaching to the choir. But the premiere functioned very well as a simultaneous return for these characters, any regular episode for the show, and maybe even as a chance to take advantage of anybody who stopped by hoping to change their mind on Hannah Horvath and friends.

From beginning to end, our heroines (if we can call them that) found themselves somewhere below rock bottom, yet tricking themselves into believing they're doing just fine. Hannah is enjoying life with new roommate Elijah and a new boyfriend played by Donald Glover (again, the show addressing first season criticism of the show's lack of diversity), yet she's still a slave to her ex-boyfriend Adam, so much so that literally the only pot she has to piss in is reserved for him. Marnie tries to convince herself she's moved on and doesn't need a man in her life, only to try to have uncomfortable and awkward sex with gay Elijah before begging to be let back into Charlie's bed for the night. Hannah and Marnie both try to reassure the other that their friendship has not crumbled to dust. Shoshannah is a woman and hear her roar, but damn if she can't get a logical sentence out of her mouth in front of Ray. And in the episode's closing minutes, we see Jessa and her new husband, absent from the episode up to that point, running through the busy Brooklyn streets and hopping into a cab. No more than that, because we got our fill of rock bottom for one episode entirely before that, and it will take many more minutes to sort out the madness of Jessa's life than were available tonight. It was the perfect button to the episode, as if to leave detractors with one final, "You're kidding, right?"

An excellent return for the show. I laughed, I felt uncomfortable, and I watched some scenes through the spaces of the fingers covering my eyes. If it was anything less, I would be disappointed, and if it was anything else, it wouldn't be "Girls".