It’s been hard not to feel like this entire season of Girls has been building to a climactic breakup between Hannah and Adam. While their relationship has been consistently strong all season (even despite the extended stay of Adam’s personality-disordered, full-bushed sister Caroline, amongst other things), this is a TV show, and the rules of TV dictate that no main couple can live happily ever after before the end of the series (see: Carrie and Big, Ross and Rachel, etc.). And so, really, it was only a matter of time before the little cracks that have been appearing all season (most recently with the double whammy of the great Patti Lupone warning Hannah that Broadway would fuck Adam up, followed by Hannah’s mother warning that Adam was not the kind of guy Hannah should ever really marry), developed into a profound break. We saw that break in this episode, and even though it might not be irreparable, it was very real. And it also contributed to this being one of (if not the) best episodes of the seasons.
It starts off with Hannah out drinking with her coworkers. And not just any kind of drinking, but shot-taking, sloppy kiss-giving, neon puke-inducing drinking. Because that’s what writers do. We’re crazy like that. And even though Hannah calls Adam and leaves a voicemail at one point (“Baby, Adam come out and play with me”), she is pretty clearly on her own. So much so, in fact, that when she gets to the point in the night when it’s time to go home, her co-workers don’t know what to do with her vomit-covered, inebriated self (when they ask Hannah where home is, she replies, “my parents live in Michigan”), and rather than just dump her in a cab and shout out Greenpoint, hoping she gets there (I’m not saying I’ve ever done that to a very drunk coworker before, but I’m also not saying I haven’t), cute coworker Joe takes Hannah to his very, very nice place so that she can sleep it off. He washes her off and is a far better friend to her than most coworkers could be, but it’s very clear that it’s totally platonic. Which doesn’t stop Hannah, once she gets home the next morning, from trying to provoke a dramatic reaction from Adam. But Hannah doesn’t get one because Adam is saving his dramatic reactions for his work. Adam is really only concerned about the play he’s in, so even when a just-showered, naked Hannah straddles him, Adam is clearly not into it and distracts her by telling her to get ready to come to his rehearsal later. Of course, when Hannah goes to Adam’s rehearsal later, the play’s director tells her she can’t be there and kicks her out. Adam stays silent on stage. It is not looking so good for the couple.
Speaking of not looking so good, Marnie is wearing a ridiculous beanie when she goes to meet aspiring art world maven, Soo Jin, and ask for a job. Soo Jin needs help with her new gallery (she “can’t be a woman and a girlfriend and a gallerist and an electronic musician all at once”), but she doesn’t need a curator. She explains to Marnie, “What I really need is an assistant who’s more qualified than I am.” Marnie’s voice rises to a pitch that would hurt a dog’s ears as she repeats, “An assistant?” But I’d guess that Marnie will probably take the job, because she currently has nothing. No, wait. What’s less than nothing? That’s what Marnie has. Because Marnie is also meeting up with Adam’s fellow Broadway cast member, Des, for, um, a jam session. (And, yes, Marnie is still wearing that dumb beanie.) Marnie brought her lyrics journal (a lot of which she wrote on Ambien) and Des praises her for being a “wordsmith” because of such not at all cliché lines like “there’s nothing I can say now, we’ve been through this before.” But even Marnie knows enough to know that this is bullshit and takes her journal back and so Des tells her to just improvise some lyrics. And what does Marnie come up with? A tremulous “swimming pools and candy.” Des yells at her: “SING, MARNIE. SING!” And so Marnie comes up with, “I see you on the mountains… We’re flying on a jet plane… There’s flowers in the attic (Des: Yes!)… I haven’t met Tom yet.” Ok, so, this was hilarious. But it gets even better when it becomes clear that Marnie has met her match in Des. He’s just another pretty person without much going on in his brain. He makes up his own lyrics too, singing, “I need you in my bed now… can’t get you offa my mind… I’m dying of this thirst girl… this thirsty, thirsty, thirsty, thirst girl.” Yeah, I don’t know either. But Marnie, of course, thinks she’s the infamous “thirst girl” and looks crushed when Des explains that the “thirst girl” is actually his girlfriend, Clementine. Ouch. It’s bad enough to want to be someone’s “thirst girl,” but to then find out that you aren’t even the “thirst girl”? That you’re just hanging out in a beanie listening to terrible songs about the “thirst girl”? Ouch.
Also in a pretty bad place this episode is Jessa, who is still strung out and running around with middle-aged drug buddy, Jasper. It’s not good. But things all come to a head when Shoshanna gets in touch with Jasper’s allergy- and psoriasis-addled daughter, Dot, who pleads with her father to try and get help for his addiction problems. Naturally, Jessa doesn’t take this well and is combative with Dot, who then tells Jasper that he must leave Jessa because Jessa “doesn’t seem like a very nice girl.” And maybe that’s true. But it’s not the whole truth, and even if it was, being a nice girl is overrated. Even so, the last we see of Jessa, she’s alone and smoking a cigarette on the sidewalk outside Shosh’s apartment. Shoshanna tells Jessa that she looks like a junkie. And Jessa comes right back with, “I am a junkie.” What is it they say? That admitting something is wrong is the first step to recovery? Well, I certainly hope that’s the case with Jessa, because here’s the thing that most of us learn pretty quickly when they spend time around a lot of coked up people: most of the time, drugs make you boring. Earlier, Jessa had been describing starting a neighborhood newspaper (only drawings, no words) and it was notable only for the fact that it was the most boring thing she’d ever said. And Jessa is many things, but she’s not boring! So if it’s the drugs that are doing that? She needs to quit. Here’s hoping that she does.
And now back to Hannah and Adam. After getting kicked out of the rehearsal, Hannah complains to Elijah that the real problem in her relationship with Adam is that he doesn’t seem as sexually interested in her anymore (“he’s treating me like an ottoman with a vagina”). And so Hannah decides “to do something that’s going to make him remember why we really love each other.” Well, that can’t go wrong can it?
Hannah arranges to meet Adam at a bar, and she shows up wearing a platinum blonde wig, pretending to be the wife of a hedge fund guy named “Jardaniel.” Adam doesn’t seem to be too into it at first, even getting upset when Hannah offers him some of “Jardaniel’s” drink, reminding her that he’s sober. Hannah breaks character for a moment so that she can hiss that she knows, and that it’s just water, but it’s pretty clear that Adam is having to force himself to play along. He gets into it a little bit though and calls her a “married slut,” which leads to Hannah throwing her drink in his face and screaming, “Are you on a crack? I’m a married older woman!” Adam seems to be enjoying her feistiness until it gets him punched in the face by a guy on the street who is genuinely worried about Hannah, until he finds out that she’s in on the game, and then the guy very seriously tells Adam, “You should break up with her. She’s a fucking psycho.”
But he doesn’t break up with her. Not yet. First they go to an apartment that Adam immediately guesses is Marnie’s because it smells like her, like “cookies and air freshener.” And Hannah continues her story of being the unsatisfied wife of the mysterious Jardaniel, until, well, she doesn’t. While they’re having sex, Hannah starts calling herself a cheerleader named Kim, and saying that Adam is just some weird scary kid who she’s fucking because she’s sick of football players. But Adam is not having this sudden change of narrative and abruptly stop what they’re doing. And so they have a talk. Hannah claims that she was just trying to help them have sex the way they used to, and says she wants him to start saying weird stuff to her again, like the way he used to tell her she was “a woman with a baby’s body.” But Adam protests that the fantasies in which he indulged aren’t like what she’s doing. His role-playing “wasn’t all creepy and thought through; it was in the moment.” Meanwhile, he thinks that Hannah is being contrived and failing to understand how different he is from the man who used to want her to pretend to be a pre-teen slut. Adam tells her, “You have an old idea of who I am. Sex was a thing that kept me from drinking… And it was like that with us for awhile, but then I fell in love with you.” Adam seems genuinely wounded that Hannah doesn’t understand how he has grown and goes from being confused and wounded (“You think I’m some angry fucking sociopath?”) to letting out his anger and contempt for her (“I’m not here to fill up your life with stories for your fucking Twitter”) to letting her know that he’s been growing weary of her for some time now (“I have to focus. Ray said I could stay with him for awhile. I don’t want to deal with this kind of drama anymore.”) Hannah’s pain is palpable when she says to Adam, “What drama? This is just me.”
“Exactly,” Adam says. And he leaves.
It’s hard to say how this will play out over the season’s remaining two episodes, but while I’ve found the development of most of the other characters lacking this season, Hannah and Adam’s growth—both as individuals and as a couple—has been impressive and, at times, devastatingly real. When season two of Girls ended, Hannah was suffering a nervous breakdown and Adam was trapped living a life that wasn’t true to what he really wanted. Over the course of this season, we’ve seen how each of them has made advances both personal and professional and helped one another grow more fully into the people that they always wanted to be. But it seems like that might also mean that they’ve outgrown each other. Hannah is genuinely hurt that Adam doesn’t see her like a sexual plaything anymore. And Adam is genuinely hurt that Hannah wants him to recreate his behavior from the times when he was at his most damaged. It seems more than likely that this is how their relationship will end. Not with some kind of bang, like it did in the first season, when Adam was hit by a car. But with a whimper, the resigned sound of misery that Hannah will let loose when she realizes that loving someone and being loved back is not always enough to make a relationship work. Hannah and Adam might not be officially over yet, but it seems like they soon will be.
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