Girls: Queen for Two Days Review

Girls finally breaks its string of mostly underwhelming episodes this season.

This Girls review contains spoilers.

Girls: Season 5, Episode 5

This is the first episode of the season that I’ve enjoyed without reserve. It’s once again clear to me that an episode of Girls only has to follow this pretty simple formula for me to like it: temper the comedy with some tragedy and take the characters out of their natural habitat. (Obviously, not every episode can take place outside of NYC, but in general I like the ones that do.) “Queen for Two Days” is a funny episode mostly taking place at some manner of feminine rejuvenation retreat called Spring Queening and it’s capped with Hannah, Hannah’s mom, and Shoshanna all coming to sad revelations.

The Spring Queening retreat that Hannah’s mom drags her along to is a comfortably absurd setting populated with controlling life coaches and yoga teachers. During a dance-based exercise class, the instructor tells the ladies, “Lead with your cunt.”

Banned from using her cell phone and not appreciating the whole “freedom to explore your womanhood” thing in general, Hannah is having a terrible time, until one of the instructors takes a liking to her. This leads, rather quickly, to Hannah having a lesbian experience, which initially seems contrived, but the episode is hardly suggesting Hannah is a lesbian or even bi now. She’s always been into exploring her sexuality and following through on whims in general, so this is just an extension of that.

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I’d like to commend Girls for branching out with its awkward sex. There’s been a lot of awkward sex over the show’s timeline and it’s kind of great that we got awkward gay sex last episode and awkward lesbian sex this time around. It’s hilarious that Hannah quits going down on her partner here just because they’re in a sauna and she literally can’t take the heat. And, this might not sound funny in writing, but that the woman proceeds to masturbate and cry is one of the funniest moments in the episode. Girls can be really good at tragic moments and it’s great when more comedy is derived from that tragedy.

Speaking of awkward sex, Adam and Jessa are having better sex than they were an episode ago but the roleplay they make up in the heat of the moment is still extremely funny: “Pretend like you meant to pull out and then you’re gonna freak out like you got me pregnant.” This scene is great but the rest of the Adam and Jessa stuff is the weakest of “Queen for Two Days.” Adam meets Jessa’s half-sister Minerva (who Jessa says is Scottish, but I guess she means Scottish-American; at any rate, she has the oddest accent ever) and then Adam impulsively offers to pay for Jessa to go back to college to become a therapist. It’s not unbelievable that Adam would do this. It just all happens pretty fast and there’s not too much to latch onto and feel about this plot.

The rest of the episode is devoted to Shoshanna, still in Tokyo, now working at a cat café (because her Japan experience clearly needed to be more kawaii-cliché). Shosh’s plot — in which her boss from the US comes to visit and Shosh takes her on a Tokyo night out — isn’t as well-developed as Hannah’s, but it’s still got some funny lines like Shosh’s wise proclamation: “You have to enjoy life. You cannot rush a cherry blossom.” And it is a lovely, sad payoff that Shosh is really homesick and has been hiding it from everyone, herself included, possibly for the whole season.

We get a one-two punch of tragedy as, after the sad conclusion of Shosh’s plot, Hannah’s mom reveals she’s resigned herself to staying with Hannah’s dad, despite the fact he’s come out as gay. At her age, she simply doesn’t believe in a positive future as a single woman, uttering one of the series’ more heartbreaking lines: “If I had known twenty years ago…”

After a string of mostly underwhelming episodes this season, I’m happy to see Girls muster a solid, funny, sad one.

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4 out of 5