Girls: Dead Inside, review
Just because its fake doesn't mean we don't feel it.
Girls can be a lot of different things depending on what episode you happen to tune into. It alternates between being a drama, a comedy, and a dramedy. Some episodes are presented like a sitcom and others feel like self-contained indie films. So, though labeling Girls “a female Curb Your Enthusiasm” would be an oversimplification, I don’t believe it’s incorrect to see the show as functioning that way to an extent. Parallels to Curb felt evident in the series’ earliest episodes, but it’s been quite a while since that comparison last occurred to me. “Dead Inside” brings this side of Girls back to the forefront and it’s a welcome return.
The premise is that Hannah’s editor David, last seen in a bar throwing Ray into a table, has been found waterlogged in the Hudson River. The issue is that Hannah doesn’t really feel, well, anything about this. This immediately recalled for me the Curb episode where Larry finds out his mother has died and, cold bastard that he is, he uses the loss to get out of burdensome engagements. The same basic concept is played for some good laughs here, too. At work, when Hannah tells Ray the news of David’s passing, he says: “Jesus. How do you feel? Do you wanna go home?” Hannah replies, “You know, I actually feel nothing. Like, literally I feel nothing. Like, maybe I’m numb but I don’t even feel numb, I feel nothing. But, yeah, I would love to go home if that’s okay with you.”
But being that Girls isn’t just a carbon copy of Curb with ladies, the show also examines Hannah’s coldness in a way I really admire. She’s far more concerned with the fate of her e-book than with the death of the guy who was meant to publish it and that freaks Adam out. He wonders how Hannah might react if he died and she gives him an unsatisfying answer about how she’d feel “extremely sad” but adds that she thinks constantly about him dying and has considered some weirdly poetic stuff she’d say if she gave his eulogy.
What I love about the treatment of this issue is that it doesn’t seem to reach a conclusion on who’s right and who’s wrong. Again, the gut reaction is to judge Hannah as the one who’s being awful, but ultimately David was a means to an end for Hannah. She wasn’t extremely close to the guy, really, and he was a kind of a prick. One assumes she spent a decent amount of time with him as a result of their professional relationship, but is that enough that she should be expected to grieve? Adam and Ray seem to think so, but Hannah and Caroline not so much.
Unfortunately, Caroline is, as with the previous episode, a sticking point for me. She does reveal herself, for at least a little while, to be more than a poisonous presence as she appears understanding of Hannah’s non-response to her editor’s death. But this leads to a scene of them going to a graveyard and prancing around, cartwheeling and somersaulting like a bunch of ninnies. The scene feels like it’s from a weird, different show. Or, if Girls sometimes feels like an indie film, this scene feels like a bad one. Maybe that’s the point of Adam and Caroline—that they break out of the realism everyone else is trapped in and take us to a different place. But there’s a point where characters going over the top goes too, uh, over the top for me and thus far Caroline seems to go there regularly.
Still, I don’t hate the scene entirely as one of my favorite characters ever, Laird (Jon Glaser), whose turtle has sadly just died, comes along with them. Laird is such an opposite of Hannah: incredibly sincere and a slave to his emotions. When Caroline tells a lengthy tearjerker of a story about a cousin of hers with muscular dystrophy who died, Laird breaks down into tears instantly. Caroline cracks up and tells him the story was (of course) fake. Laird, with snot hanging from his nose, replies, “Just ‘cause it’s fake doesn’t mean I don’t feel it.” Aw, poor guy.
The other problems with the episode are subplots that feel like loose threads. Jessa finds out one of her childhood friends (named Season) wanted to be rid of her so badly that she faked her own death. It’s got funny moments highlighting what a total jerk Jessa is (Season got away with the fake death because they knew Jessa would never come to the funeral to confirm its validity), but the storyline feels like it has little to no progression and no real conclusion.
Marnie has a falling out with Ray when she finds him and Hermie (Colin Quinn) laughing at her awkward YouTube video. She gets pissed off and quits her job at Grumpy’s and that’s… kind of the whole plot. It serves as a setup for stuff that’ll go down shortly, but there’s just not that much to talk about with Marnie in this episode.
My positive feelings toward “Dead Inside” stem entirely from the handling of Hannah’s reaction to David’s death. Aside from how the show takes a pretty non-judgmental stance on it, I think I just relate to Hannah’s detachment. Writer types have a very odd ability to understand how emotions work for other people and what events in life are supposed to be really important, which is why Hannah can think of and has thought of beautiful things to say at Adam’s funeral. However, when one of these big deal occurrences actually comes up in the writer’s life, she fails to muster up the proper reaction and comes across as heartless.
Still, I think we can all pretty much agree that it is not right when Hannah retells Caroline’s fake muscular dystrophy cousin story to Adam. Evidently Hannah’s decided that, instead of sticking to her emotionless guns, she should explain her coldness away with some invented childhood trauma. Watching Hannah make really bad decisions always sets me on edge and the whole final scene of her explaining herself to Adam through crocodile tears definitely achieved that effect. This is sowing seeds of dishonesty into a relationship that has thus far appeared fairly healthy and I assume we’re heading toward a severe crash.
Oh, and I think I’m required to note the funniness of “Dead Inside” taking a subtle jab(?) at Jezebel. Kind of great considering that whole kerfuffle over Lena Dunham’s photo-shoot in Vogue and, blah, blah, I’m bored with all this.
Den of Geek Rating: 4 Out of 5 Stars
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for all news updates related to the world of geek. And Google+, if that’s your thing!