Sunday, February 16, 2014

REVIEW: 'Girls' Talks About Friendship as Hannah, Marnie, Shoshanna & Jessa Go Away for a Weekend in 'Beach House'

HBO's Girls - Episode 3.07 Beach House

During a Long Island weekend getaway with the girls, Hannah runs into Elijah and invites him and his friends to their beach house, hoping to take the pressure off of Marnie's rigorous schedule for honesty and healing.

At the very beginning of "Beach House," I was fully prepared to hate this episode of Girls because so much of it felt like the show making meta references about the criticism about the show just for the sake of meta references.

Marnie: "And to prove to everyone on Instagram that we still have fun as a group."

Hannah: It's a good thing I'm not as susceptible to criticism as I used to be."

Those lines felt specifically engineered at the people saying critical things about the show's first two seasons. They addressed it and basically said "we know what you're saying and we just don't give a fuck."

But "Beach House" was building to a huge moment for the season. Girls first and foremost is the story of Hannah Horvath. Her tale and aspirations of being a writer and her view on relationships are the fundamental driving forces of the series. And yes, sometimes that means Marnie, Shoshanna and Jessa get marginalized. Special things typically happen whenever that quartet of characters are in a room together. But that also rarely happens anymore.

And yet, the show is so smart with its handling of the girls' friendships. Hannah, Marnie and Jessa all meant in college and were close friends. Shoshanna's only a part of the group because she's Jessa's cousin. But Hannah and Marnie had their big fight at the end of season one - and then Marnie had sex with Elijah. Jessa disappeared for a long time and has been quite rude to Shosh in her return this year.

The deterioration of a friendship is not something frequently covered on television because shows love keeping things the same. It's a very reassuring aspect for the audience. That no matter what happens you can always count on this group of people to be friends.

Girls gets to the hard truth that that is simply not the case in the real world. Stuff happens and friendships change. These girls may have gotten along fine in college. But now, as they are out in the world trying to live their own independent lives, they see each other for who they truly are. If it takes a cruel drunk Shosh to point it out, then so be it. That climatic verbal fight was the highpoint of the season so far - even though it drudges up all the painful truths about everyone's true feelings towards each other. The episode could have ended then. Instead, Girls offers up a didactic and reactionary piece. They all have to get up the next day and travel home together. They do so in silence knowing that those things have been said and cannot be taken back. It doesn't mean they can't enjoy a choreographed dance sequence anymore. But it does mean the core friendship of Girls is changing.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Beach House" was written by Jenni Konner, Lena Dunham & Judd Apatow and directed by Jesse Peretz.
  • Hannah's outfit getting off the bus. Good god that was terrible. Also, Hannah being in a bikini for most of the episode has to be another evidence of trolling the critics out there perplexed by her constant nudity.
  • Shosh: "Why not, being honest is fun." Yes, Shosh. Yes, it is.
  • Andrew Rannells is back and has brought Danny Strong with him. Strong has just been popping up a lot lately in vastly different roles. Just compare what he does here with his two episodes on this season of Justified.
  • We also get a lot more details about Marnie's breakup with Charlie in this episode. Which I don't really care that much about.
  • Overall, season three has been very consistent and very comedic. Not comedic in a haha kind-of way but more so in its approach to telling the tragedy of these characters. There may not be as many big event episodes like season two had but consistency is also a very good thing.