An(other) Appreciation of Girls

Girls is kind of a contentious topic, especially on the global entertainment forums of the net but also occasionally among my friends, who alternately love and despise the show with a worryingly quick turnaround. And certainly there have been ostentatious moments (Hannah’s coke-fuelled, insincere rant at Marnie in Bad Friend, every scene Jessa’s in), but for every one of those there are three incredibly well-observed moments of social awkwardness or facepalm-worthy train wrecks of jokes or a completely unexpected emotional gut-punch.

Which makes it well worth wading through all the hype and bile surrounding the show and just letting yourself feel the characters’ pain and embarrassment and unintentional hurt. I kind of live for those moments in shows, because while I love being sweet-talked by laughter and raucous set-pieces in one, I know that I’ve fallen in love when a(n ostensible) comedy hurts me just as bad as its characters.

Last week’s episode One Man’s Trash did so beautifully in what was more or less a bottle episode about series creator Lena Dunham’s character Hannah, who for my money works best when stripped of all her airs and hipster affectations (as opposed to her clothes), not when she’s telling us what she’s not really feeling but when we’re seeing what she really is.

The episode takes place largely in 42 year-old Joshua’s brownstone house, wherein he and Hannah (complete strangers until that morning) develop a strange romantic companionship, an isolated couple of days that act as a sabbatical from their real lives (Joshua’s getting divorced, Hannah’s avoiding both her train wreck of a love life and highly dysfunctional friendships) and seems almost too good to be true…which, of course, it is, and though the cracks are there from the very start (both Hannah’s sudden desire to give Josh space and his subsequent dismissal of the notion are the first flashing red lights) they both clearly just want someone to pretend and play house with, if only for a night or two.

And though both realise it won’t last quickly enough, the fact that Hannah’s late to that party – waking up in Joshua’s house alone, eating breakfast on his patio and even taking out his trash (it’s perfect when you see it) – is just enough to break my heart all over again. She’ll be fine after this – well, as fine as she was before – but I can’t help but feel somewhat melancholy over the sense that baring your soul to a complete stranger might only serve to make you even lonelier in the end, with the slightest catharsis your sole comfort. And even that’s fleeting.

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