Girls: Only Child, Review
Girls brings cringe-comedy to a funeral
It’s very pleasing to me that this Girls episode continues the plot about Hannah’s editor, David dying. If you thought we were done with the cringing moments from the last episode of Hannah being insensitive about the death of an acquaintance, you were dead wrong (I apologize) as “Only Child” throws us right back into it with an opening scene at David’s funeral.
Hannah failing to show due respect toward the dead made me happy last time, so I loved the beginning of “Only Child” too. She spends the funeral trying to spot famous members of the writing community (“Oh my God, I think I see Zadie Smith”) and learns that, ostensibly gay though he was, David had a wife all this time. The apex of the cringe-comedy comes when Hannah speaks to David’s wife and tries to appear sympathetic but her real desire to discover the fate of her e-book comes out. Still, she manages to get the number of another publisher, so it’s a win-win… basically!
For a bit, things are looking up. We get some funny moments from Hannah trying to pull a Dr. Phil with Caroline and Adam to get their constant bickering to stop. The fun of this scene comes out of Hannah’s involvement as moderator trying to use neutral language, e.g., “Will you join us at the Listening Table?” Otherwise, I don’t entirely even know what to make of Adam and Caroline’s catharsis… if it even is one. I really just continue to not much care for Caroline and don’t much see the point in her being part of the series except (most likely) to be a plot device that drives a wedge between Adam and Hannah. To clarify, I think Gaby Hoffmann is doing an amazing acting job. The character is just obnoxious as all get out.
The other highlight of “Only Child” is Hannah’s meeting with her new editor and assistant who laugh too much and have a great dynamic of the assistant making interjections that are consistently shot down by his boss. When he manages to say one thing she actually finds constructive, it’s a sweet, hilarious moment of insight into the relationship of two characters we’re only with for a few minutes.
Hannah’s been riding high for most of this season so it’s here she finally receives a crushing blow. Her new publishers want her book to be published as a real book—like one made out of paper—but then she finds out that, even though there are no plans to pursue its publication, the original publishing house she was working with retains the rights to her work for three years. Understandably pissed, Hannah takes out her frustrations on Caroline and kicks her out of the apartment. I’ve always felt Girls depicts arguments really well and gets how meandering and absurd they can be, but this scene didn’t quite do it for me, maybe just because I’m still not that invested in Caroline and am happy to see her go. Hannah’s decision to choke down a beer during the fight is a funny inclusion, however.
The other major thing that happens is Marnie and Ray have sex, which doesn’t actually come out of left field as there’s been the occasional scene putting them alone together and demonstrating how they’re able to play off of each other in a weird, unexpected way. The sex is prefaced by Marnie (finally) recognizing she’s in a bad state, so she comes to Ray for a dose of his brutal honesty, requesting that she tell him exactly what’s wrong with her.
He sums it up with “You’re a huge, fat, fuckin’ phony.” But then, to soften the blow, Ray explains that Marnie’s awfulness probably stems from insecurity brought on by her absentee father, adding (in a near-fourth-wall-breaking moment), “that allows you to be a sympathetic character.” But I’m afraid I can’t agree with him at this juncture. Right now Marnie is such an endlessly self-centered mess that I don’t really enjoy checking in with her. If I’m being honest, if I’m sympathetic to her at all it’s because I’m taken in by the frankly unreasonable beauty of Allison Williams.
Yeah, most of the protagonists on this show are self-centered messes, but at least they’re interesting ones. Marnie has felt predictable and undeveloped for a while now, continuing on her downward spiral while refusing to acknowledge the spiral’s existence. I’m glad she slept with Ray here because, hell, at least it was something new. She also had a tiny moment of pride swallowing when asking Ray to be honest with her about her flaws, but that sure didn’t seem to last considering her final maneuver was to tell Ray, re: their act of coitus: “Go fuck yourself. Like I’d advertise this.”
Oh, but there’s also the tiny scene of Marnie with the new kitten she bought where she strokes its head and says “You’re my best friend.” Okay, fine. Marnie is a little sympathetic.
Lastly, Shoshanna is getting sick of Jessa living at her place, sitting around all day watching the Forensic Files. Jessa responds by resolutely deciding to get a job at some sort of kids’ clothing store or something? I couldn’t even tell what it was exactly. Overall, it’s barely a plot, but I guess this is setup for Jessa’s next move.
“Only Child” introduced some major stuff for Marnie, Ray, Hannah, Adam, and Caroline and some less obviously major stuff for Jessa, making many of the events here feel like the first part of a larger conflict. This results in an episode that feels like a bridge to other stuff rather than one that tells a self-contained, satisfying tale like last week’s “Dead Inside” mostly managed. But at least “Only Child” had some very funny scenes and, if nothing else, a transition episode certainly makes me excited for the next episode to come.
Also, I’m glad Caroline’s gone! Nah, I’m sure she’ll be back…
Den of Geek Rating: 3 Out of 5 Stars
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