Feb 10, 2014
GIRLS: Free Snacks and…What? Marnie and Ray Are Still Sleeping Together?
Are there such things as free snacks in this world? No, not in this world. But Hannah Horvath doesn’t exactly live in this world, does she? She lives in a similar and familiar world, yes, but also one where a temporary advertorial job comes with free lox from Russ & Daughters and a corporate gym membership. Does she also get comprehensive health insurance and a 401K? Can we all live in this world? Please? No? I didn’t think so. It’s Hannah’s world; we all just look at it in disbelief. Like, a lot of disbelief. Loads.
So, Hannah. Hannah has a new job at GQ. A real live writing job! She explains to Ray that she will be working on advertorial content for something called the Field Guide to the Urban Man. And Ray—because he’s Ray and is, I guess, afraid of people leaving him and his coffee shop behind—tells Hannah that working on an advertorial campaign is “morally and creatively bankrupt.” As opposed, I guess, to the creatively stimulating and morally fulfilling work that he does at his Grumpy’s franchise. Ugh. There is no shame in getting a job—any job—and at least it’s a foot in the door for Hannah. Shut up, Ray, and stop redirecting your own self-loathing for having slept with Marnie onto others. Hannah already thinks that this job will not be “the best use of [her] literary voice and myriad talents,” but you know what? She’s only 25! She has time. She really does.
And this GQ job? Is a pretty decent job! Some of her co-workers are nice and there are free snacks and she has a brand-new work buddy, Joe, who is the genius who shows Hannah all the snacks and reassures her that they are free. All free? Yes. Even the Sun Chips? Yes. Even the Clif Bars? Yes. And even the lox, which is “disgusting but very expensive”? Yes! How awesome. Plus, Joe even read Hannah’s JazzHate story about cocaine! How thrilling for Hannah, especially because the post “wasn’t as retweeted as it should have been.” That’s so frustrating! I get it.
Also cool is Hannah’s new boss, Jenna Lyons. Jenna Lyons speaks in a monotone that I guess passes for acting if your day job is head of creative at J. Crew, but whatever. It sort of works. Anyway, Jenna Lyons loves Hannah and her ideas which include coming up with male archetypes like the “Kewl Dad” (“he’s a dad, but not a cool dad, but kind of cool”) and the “Kah-Baller” (“a little sleazy, but you know he’s spiritual”). Not so good at his job is thwarted poet Kevin, who comes up with the idea of a “Mod Hatter,” which is dumb if for no other reason than the very valid one that “fedoras are worse than genocide.”
Later, Kevin lets his jealousy get the better of him and tells Hannah, “I don’t like your face…your mouth, it makes me want to rip it off your face.” Hannah dismisses this hatred as being based on the fact that she had “one better idea” than Kevin, which, meta much? So many of Lena Dunham’s detractors come from the school of “it should have been me,” and think that if they had just managed to get their spec script to Judd Apatow, they would be the ones with an HBO series. And so Dunham (once again) addresses her critics with this scene, simultaneously apologizing for just being naturally good at her job, while also making those who dislike her based on her inborn talent appear to be psychotic haters who wish her harm and have an irrational hatred of her physicality. Which, I get that Dunham has been the focus of many ad hominem attacks by people who are no doubt jealous at the success she has attained at such a young age. But—and I say this as a fan of Dunham!—there are also plenty of people who have offered thoughtful, rational critiques of Dunham’s work, and those people would never dream of insulting Dunham based on what her mouth looks like. Yet those types of critics are never addressed on this show in the same meta way that the lunatics are. And I get it; maybe if I had a forum like Dunham does to blow off some steam, I might do it too. But I do think it comes off as not a little self-righteous here, especially because—solely based on Hannah’s ideas in that meeting—there are plenty of reasons why Kevin might not like her work that have nothing to do with hating her face.
Let’s check in on everyone else for a minute, shall we? First, Jessa. She got that job in the children’s boutique and so now spends her days advising women to buy black-as-night christening dresses that, no, are not too small, it’s just that the babies are probably morbidly obese. I don’t know what’s going to happen to Jessa, but I won’t be surprised if her storyline involves meeting a dad (probably bearded, hopefully not fedora’d) and getting pregnant. I won’t be surprised at all. And then there’s Shoshanna. I refuse to write about Shoshanna. She has become such a caricature of a person and so distant from any inspiration that the writers might have originally based her on that I can barely watch her. Suffice it to say, Shosh wants Ray back because he was mentioned in Time Out New York (“a popular service magazine”) and so she’s now thinking of unchoosing her choice to leave Ray. But in the meantime, she will have bad sex with a moderately handsome, exceedingly dumb fellow NYU student. Gross.
And finally, Marnie and Ray. In an effort to be both a “gentleman and a squire” (at first I thought he said “squatter,” which, heh) Ray goes to Marnie’s apartment to watch reality television (his only previous foray into reality TV was the 17 times he watched the Ken Burns jazz documentary because, Ray) and to bring her muffins. Oh, and they have terrible sex. But it’s so terrible that it leads to them having lunch after? And fighting about how dumb Marnie is and what a racist Ray is, and then agreeing that because neither of them have anyone else to have lunch with, they’ll stay together? Um. So, look, I’m as happy as the next person to see Marnie actually eating real food, but these two make NO sense together and are basically just setting up Ray and Shoshanna’s reunion. Or maybe drama between Shosh and Marnie. Or maybe…no. I don’t care what the last maybe is, because I don’t believe in any of this for a second. There is no reason for Ray to be aiming this low. And there’s no reason for Marnie to put up with being called dumb. That is some toxic shit coming out of Ray right there. Plus how does anyone who dated Shoshanna even get to pretend like they care about whether or not someone’s dumb? I hate this storyline and I want it to end. I don’t like Marnie at all, but she deserves better than this, or she’ll never get better at all.
Meanwhile, Hannah was so happy about her first day at work that she brought home tons of free snacks for Adam, which he doesn’t want because “it’s all full of chemicals, and fake salt, and pigeon bones.” Adam has been auditioning a lot, but has been having a hard time because he doesn’t really want a job, he only auditions because he “just likes reading emotional cues from strangers in a high-pressure situation.” As do we all, Adam. As do we all. Hannah does the thing where she agrees with all the self-defeating bullshit Adam is spouting because she doesn’t want to confront him on his insecurities and, well, everyone does that sometimes in relationships, but that doesn’t mean it’s healthy. It’s not healthy. Not even a little bit.
Hannah has her own insecurities to deal with at work, though, because she realizes during a phone conversation with Joe (which, AAAHHHHHH!!!! no one would EVER talk on a phone in an office…god invented gChat and Skype for a REASON…I get that Joe and Hannah’s Skype conversations would be hard to film but, ugh, this seems so weird) that she might just be at this job FOREVER. After all, Kevin was once a poet who won a prize from Yale, and Joe wrote a Talk of the Town for the New Yorker, and Karen has written many things for n+1, including “an unpacking of the Jersey Shore through an imperialist lens” and I’m pretty sure I read that!
All this freaks Hannah out, of course, because she doesn’t want to give up her dreams the way her co-workers have. So Hannah marches into Jenna Lyons’s office and quits! After all, Hannah doesn’t want to be there in ten years! Oh, ten year plans. Those are the best plans. They always, always come true. But after Hannah quits, she panics again. Which, sure! It’s hard to get any job as a creative professional, especially one at Condé Nast. So Hannah asks for her job back. Jenna Lyons doesn’t look like she cares either way, which is the secret to being a good boss, I think.
Hannah returns home resolved to work on her own writing for at least three hours a night, which hahahahahahahahhaa. Yeah, sure. Good luck! An office job that involves writing will definitely not exhaust you while also giving you loads of work to complete after you get home, to say nothing of how mentally depleted you’ll be from generating ideas all day. Hannah, though, doesn’t even get to try writing for three hours on this, the first night of her experiment, because almost as soon as she sits down on the couch and despite the fact that Adam is exuberantly recounting how he got a callback (there’s that Adam-style passion that we know and love!), Hannah falls asleep, clutching her laptop in her arms. And as mch as there were many unrelatable moments in this episode, what with the land lines and the notion that people like Sun Chips, this last scene was pretty much heartbreakingly familiar. Sleep well, Hannah. It all starts again tomorrow.
Follow Kristin Iversen on twitter @kmiversen
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