Girls: Incidentals, review
Girls moves out of sitcom laziness in the "Incidentals” episode, but you can still eat off Hannah's chest.
I’ve been going on and on lately about how much I love episodes of this show that get out of the city and away from the sitcom format, but obviously those wouldn’t be such a treat if they weren’t interspersed amongst the “normal” episodes. And “Incidentals” happens to be a really solid one of those.
There are four major events taking place here: Adam has a reading for the Broadway show he got a callback for, Jessa’s old rehab buddy Jasper (Richard E. Grant) turns up to screw with her life, everything basically keeps on sucking for Marnie, and Hannah continues to enjoy success at her advertorial job with GQ.
The latter situation makes for a brilliant scene early in the episode in which Hannah gets the opportunity to interview actress/singer Patti LuPone. However, as it’s an advertorial interview, it’s not an interview so much as a stealth ad pitch for osteoporosis. Patti LuPone doesn’t actually have osteoporosis so the interview quickly turns into a hilarious collaborative lying session.
Adam lands his part and has a little celebratory freak-out in a public bathroom afterward, something which is pretty awesome to witness. Adam typically has nothing major going on and at least pretends to not care about much of anything, so this feels like a big step forward for him. Also sort of big (because Adam kind of despises most people) is that he makes friends with one of his fellow actors in the play, Desi (Ebon Moss-Bachrach), though he’s as of yet not too developed as a character so it’s unclear why Adam would even like him.
Desi’s core function right now seems to be that he’s a new love interest for Marnie. The two of them meet right near the end of the episode, which feels like an earned bit of positivity for Marnie after the series of crushing blows she gets up to that point (not to mention the ones she’s continued to get throughout this season and the previous one). She runs into Soojin (Booth Jonathan’s assistant, played by Greta Lee, from one episode of Season 2; remember her?) who is opening her own art gallery. Following this, Ray dumps her, which makes enough sense (even if it “doesn’t make sense biologically,” as Ray notes). After all, they’re like the worst idea for a couple ever. But it does seem unfortunate that the show evidently doesn’t want to continue to dig deeper into how hilariously awful Marnie/Ray (or Marnay) could be, assuming this breakup sticks, that is.
I’ve always enjoyed how Girls will readily drop and then suddenly reintegrate guest stars. The way people can sort of just drift in and out of your life sporadically is another one of the many aspects of this show that makes it feel so naturalistic. In general, I never really expect to see guest stars again, maybe just because television has trained me to see them as just that: guests who have no permanency within the show’s world. I didn’t think that Hannah rekindling with Elijah in last week’s episode would mean he’d be back in her friendship circle now, but then again, why wouldn’t he be? And I certainly never imagined there’d be any reason for Soojin to pop up again.
Then we’ve got Jasper, Jessa’s old (as in he’s much older than her) friend from rehab. He finds her and whisks her away from her tedious new life working at a kids’ clothing shop and back to the magical world of cocaine. This is a pretty huge development for Jessa, but still, like the majority of the episodes in Season 3, precious little of the running time is actually devoted to covering it. Jemima Kirke had to disappear partway through Season 2 as a result of her pregnancy and I wonder if she didn’t ask to have her role in the show downsized this season to make time for her new baby.
But the bits that are there are pretty great. The way Jasper explains how he found Jessa’s address and threw pebbles at her window until Shoshanna poked her head out and asked “Are you there to rape me?” is incredible, as is watching Shoshanna keep up with a rambling, jumpy conversation with Jasper who’s fueled by coke, while Shosh is just being her usual self.
Overall, this episode works well because it flows along at a decent clip and it’s full of really funny moments. I loved Hannah’s admission that maybe they shouldn’t have taken Jessa out of rehab as well as her line to illustrate to Patti LuPone how lazy she is: “Sometimes I just use my chest as a tray.” Also, the awkward, cringing moments are just piled on with Marnie, like when she catches Soojin in a hug she very obviously wasn’t anticipating. And her conversation with Desi starts out well enough but gets truly painful as it goes on. (Also, Desi makes an unclarified reference to having a significant other at home, which probably means more hard times forthcoming for poor Marnie.)
All that brought this episode down a bit were (as usual) the moments where the sitcom dial got turned up a little too high. For example, the running gag/plot about Hannah worrying that Adam’s Broadway show is going to lead to his no longer being happy in their relationship came off as a bit labored, as though I could imagine Lena Dunham and Sarah Heyward (who wrote this episode together) picking spots throughout the script to plant reminders for the audience that this was still happening.
But these are nitpicks. Overall, this was a very solid episode, though it was, like many of the episodes this season, actually mostly quite an upbeat one.
And so I continue to dread the darkness of future Girls.
Den of Geek Rating: 4.5 Out of 5 Stars
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