For most of this season of Girls, Shoshanna has been little more than an increasingly annoying caricature of the person she once was. The qualities that had once been endearing—the hair donuts, the inscrutable emoji communiqués, the rapid fire speech patterns—became devoid of charm, and Shoshanna was no longer just a naive, superficial young woman, but was instead a vacuous parody of the type of person that I’m not even sure exists in real life. In fact, though, this has happened to all the characters this season. Marnie isn’t just a Type A woman with questionable music taste going through a hard time, she is a probably anorexic, Edie Brickell-covering loser who has alienated everyone with whom she was once close. Jessa isn’t just a free-spirited provocateur, she is now a borderline sociopathic drifter. And Hannah? In some ways, Hannah has developed in an interesting manner due not only to her professional successes (and failures), but also (and mostly) because of her relationship with Adam. However, Hannah too has sometimes been the worst version of herself, showing such a profound lack of empathy that it’s been hard to fully understand what it is that she does care about, other than herself. Thanks to the fact that Shoshanna is a really mean drunk, a lot of these character issues get called out this episode in a manner that makes me a little bit hopeful that things will be better for the rest of the season.
Marnie is at her preppie princess finest as she places flowers on nightstands and designates different bedrooms in the gorgeous North Fork beach home that her mother’s friend lent her for the weekend. It’s clear that Marnie is in her element, and it’s no coincidence that Marnie’s element is only possible when Marnie is absolutely alone. Once other people—chaotic people, messy people, normal people—arrive, Marnie won’t know what to do and won’t know how to fit them into her fantasy life. Which is always the problem with Marnie, she gets so caught up in the pretty ideas that she has in her head, that she ignores what’s going on right in front of her. In that sense, it’s totally understandable that she still doesn’t get why Charlie would abruptly leave her, telling her, “I don’t love you; I never loved you.” Marnie was making grilled pizzas! She doesn’t understand why the pizzas weren’t enough. Marnie recounts this story to none other than Elijah, who ran into Hannah while the girls were grocery shopping, and who—along with three friends—has joined the party. This is an expanded story of the Marnie-Charlie breakup, and it involves the detail that, one morning, Charlie told Marnie he wanted to propose to her, and then that night—over grilled pizzas—he broke up with her and never spoke with her again. I…don’t believe that Charlie ever said he would propose to Marnie. I think that detail is akin to the vases of peonies that Marnie put on the nightstands, just something nice on the surface that will make Marnie feel better about all the trauma underneath. But it’s not, you know, a real detail. It’s fake.
And, of course, that’s really what this whole trip is for Marnie—a fake coverup. She thinks that over the course of a weekend she will regain the three friends that she has lost. Marnie even tells Hannah, “We’re so disconnected now, I thought this would be a nice opportunity for us to have fun together and prove to everyone via Instagram that we can still have fun as a group.” Because to Marnie, it’s not about what really happens, it’s only about what other people (namely Charlie) see happening on Instagram. Nobody takes photos of their fights though (which, really, is too bad…I want an Instagram just of people fighting and getting verbally taken down by cruel drunks like Shoshanna) and so if Marnie’s beach weekend had been ‘grammed, it would have been missing the actual best part, which is when the four girls get into a big, old-fashioned, alcohol-induced screaming match.
Tensions had been simmering all night, thanks to the fact that Elijah’s new boyfriend is a jerk and that Marnie hadn’t wanted the guys to stay for dinner and so had to divide up what was probably not enough food for four into definitely not enough food for eight. And also just thanks to the fact that there was already a lot of unexpressed rage anyway and lots and lots of drinking. Well, notable exception being Jessa, who is still in control of her sobriety. All this leads to an epic kitchen showdown, during which Shoshanna actually starts, you know, getting real! And it’s so nice. It’s so nice not to hate that character for at least a few minutes. She tells Hannah, “You’re a fucking narcissist. I have never met anyone else who thinks their own life is so fucking fascinating. I wanted to fall asleep in my own vomit all fucking day listening to you talk about how you bruise more easily than other people.” And then she speaks the truth to Marnie, telling her that the duck Marnie fed them tasted like “a used condom.” And she even lays into Jessa (who has defended Shosh as being somewhat of an intellectual because once Shosh “read the newspaper on her phone”), saying, “Jessa goes to rehab for five fucking seconds and we have to listen to everything she comes up with?”
I have always thought most people’s true personalities come through when they’re very drunk. Some people get super happy and carefree, some get really raunchy and physically uninhibited, some get really quiet and introspective, and some get violent and/or incredibly cruel. Shosh, as Jessa points out, is a “cruel drunk.” Shosh calls Hannah “mentally ill” and then complains that everyone treats her “like a fucking cab driver,” and continues, saying, “Seriously, you have entire conversations in front of me, like I’m invisible. And sometimes I wonder if my social anxiety is holding me back from meeting the people who are right for me, instead of a bunch of whiny nothings for friends.” It’s kind of great, but it’s also a little confusing because, well, other than the fact that Jessa is Shosh’s cousin (and clearly the person Shosh holds the least amount of contempt toward), Shosh doesn’t have to hang out with any of them. And yet she does. Why? I don’t know. Maybe it’s her social anxiety, or maybe it’s the fact that she has been the most unlikable of the four of them (save, maybe, Marnie) for some time now. And so when Shosh goes to bed saying, “I’m so fucking sick of all of you,” it’s kind of great because, hey! We’re all sometimes a little fucking sick of all these characters, but also, well, Shoshanna has been the worst offender this season. She’s been a fucking joke! Which, maybe that’s another of Dunham’s meta-comments on the people who constantly criticize Girls? Maybe Dunham is showing us that even though there are justifiable reasons to hate all the characters for one reason or another, we are also pretty hate-worthy ourselves? Or maybe not. Maybe not.
The episode ends in the soft, watery morning light, as all the girls come together to silently clean up the house (the boys stay sleeping and are, obviously, no help at all) and then head off to wait for the bus. And as they sit in a row by the dock, they wordlessly begin the choreography routine they had learned the night before, and it’s a lovely little moment showcasing both their friendship and also the hope we all invest in imperfect relationships. Because that’s all love is, isn’t it? Whether it’s with a romantic partner or a close friend, it’s about agreeing with someone else (or with many other people) that we will look past their flaws and see the potential of sharing a life with them, hoping that the good times will outweigh the bad. That’s what it looks like these four are still trying to do, but it’s hard to say if it can really last forever. Or even, you know, for one more episode.
Follow Kristin Iversen on twitter @kmiversen