This season of Girls has focused heavily on Marnie and Hannah’s post-friendship lives, their separate unexpected experiences being the focal point of tonight’s ‘Bad Friend’, one of the show’s weaker episodes to date. It’s actually one of the funnier episodes of the series for the first half (at least with Hannah and Elijah), but the emotional and tonal shift in the final third of the episode comes as a bit of a surprise, and ultimately doesn’t work well.
Most of the episode juxtaposes the reckless decisions of the two main characters: Hannah decides to do coke when writing a piece for some hipster website (“this is your comfort zone… this is where you should be”), because it’ll be an experience she never had she can write about. What follows is a lot of snorting, a lot of Hannah’s boobs bouncing around, and SO MUCH DANCING (which is fine… there has to be some anxiety release for all this young adult angst on this show). But like any good thing that happens to people on Girls, the night is ruined when Hannah blows her top after hearing Elijah’s admission.
Now, I have to give credit to Dunham for not only writing these uncomfortably pretentious scenes for Hannah, where she parades around, mad that her gay ex-boyfriend had an identity crisis with another woman. It speaks to the self-absorbed nature of our generation yes, but how far they push Hannah into Unlikable Character Territory can be a little too far – and her narcissistic, drug-fueled rants at Elijah and Marnie don’t present me with a character who I want to see succeed.
The same goes for Marnie – she’s barely used to her new job, and she leaves in the middle of the day when the puny artist who inspired her masturbation session in ‘All Adventurous Women Do‘. Once again, the douchebag named Booth appears and Marnie is at his beck and call, enduring his twisted art prison/latest project, which is a lot of disturbing images to Duncan Sheik’s ‘Barely Breathing’. It’s a major step backward for Marnie, whose gone from a confident woman with a job she loved and a boyfriend, to a bitter ex, with a shitty hostessing job, banging a guy who is telling her to stare at the doll.
Worst of all, she’s pretty fine with it until Hannah shows up, and bitches her out in a coked-up rage. She points out that she’s always been the bad friend, the one who dressed wrong, said the wrong things, and could never hold up her end of a friendship. But the foundation of her anger is so stupid – as Elijah says, “I lost my boner almost immediately” – and Marnie’s behavior is so straightforward, the insults Hannah flings at Marnie don’t have the emotional impact they should. We’ve seen both of them be terrible friends before, which makes their argument all the more pointless: in reality, neither of them deserves to be friends with each other, until they grow the fuck up a little bit.
Dunham likes to find characters who slowly go through mental changes, and show the subtleties in every day life that expose these philosophical or emotional transformations. But Hannah and Marnie have both taken steps backwards as characters since the season began: Hannah’s letting herself get tied up in her own self-centered bullshit again, and Marnie’s overall down slide has picked up right where she left off making out with the goofy fat guy in last season’s finale. Because of this, it makes it hard for the audience to connect to these characters; although their ability to write consistent characters is great, their insistence on immediate regression in the form of a stressful situation sticks out at times, and in ‘Bad Friend’, it culminates in a dispute that feels empty thematically.
- wacky adventure episodes should be grounded in something – but Hannah’s exploration leading to her flipping out about Marnie and Elijah not really having sex is not a good way to do it.
- Ray likes Ally McBeal.
- by the same token: we need more Shoshanna this season. One scene an episode just isn’t enough.
- Hannah kisses Elijah in the pharmacy, and Elijah says “When did you eat jerky?”
- Cipro is a medication for bacterial infections and/or anthrax. Guessing Marnie had the former?
- Booth really is just an empty, delusional asshole… and Marnie finding him ‘deep’ or ‘talented’ just makes me like her even less.