Welcome back to Greenpoint, Millennials.
The mise en scene of Season 3 deliberately invokes the first scenes of the first two seasons of Girls, but instead of Hannah spooning in bed with a roommate (Marnie in Season 1, and Elijah in Season 2) she’s being spooned by Adam, with whom she reunited in the final episode of Season 2.
Hannah’s devolution into a temporarily hearing impaired, paralyzed writer with an unfortunate page boy haircut (making her look like “a little boy on a cookie box,” says Shosh) reached its nadir by the end of Season 2. Her “rescue” by Adam in last season’s final moments signaled that her life would be on the mend—this is precisely what we see in the opening moments of Season 3. Hannah takes her medication, monitored by Adam, has a productive meeting with her editor, David, who recommends they ship out pieces of her manuscript to various dot-coms for publication, and, later that day, recounts her newfound emotional and psychological stability to her therapist. Hannah’s realization that she “holds the keys to the prison that is [her] mind” signifies a growth in self-awareness mirrored in the happiness of, literally and metaphorically,” drinking from a cup this whole time that i didn’t know was made from pure chocolate” when in discussion with David.
With this network of security provided by her boyfriend, editor, and therapist, Hannah’s life is noticeably more secure than her friends’: Marnie has taken temporary refuge at her mother’s condo after her breakup with Charlie (an unplanned plot development after Christopher Abbott’s hasty, and stupid, decision to leave the show); Jessa has reemerged in rehab in upstate New York; and Shoshana seems to have become her own version of the Citibike, fucking a random assortment of unmemorable college guys, post-split from Ray. Shosh confides in her friends, during Hannah’s taco-and-ice-cream party, that she’s “beginning of a sexually adventurous time” that entails a balance of sex and studying, which all her friends regard to be both mature and feminist, all the while we, the viewer, find her find her falling asleep in the library, unable to maintain the “study” aspect of this new life formula.
Marnie is also at the taco-and-ice-cream party, even though she can’t even manage to keep her taco in her mouth upon hearing that Adam ran into Charlie on Bedford Avenue (the most trendy, and most annoying and annoyingly overcrowded, street in hipster Williamsburg). “If you can avoid love, and feelings, and matters of the heart, you will be so much better off,” she advises Shosh, in the latter’s intrepid quest for senior year sexcapades. Adam disagrees with Marnie’s sentiment, and, while he cannot stand Hannah’s friends, he serves as their mansplaining therapist, telling Marnie about his first serious breakup: “I didn’t know her. She didn’t know me. Just because i tasted her cum or spite…that’s not a connection; anyone can know that…. Really knowing someone else is a completely different thing.” This comforts Marnie—maybe she’ll be OK, maybe she really didn’t know Charlie, even though she thought she did, because who would buy ingredients to make grilled pizzas with his girlfriend, but never actually show up to make those pizzas? Seriously: if someone bails on an at-home pizza-making date, how much do you really know them? Or, better yet, how much do they actually love you…if they bail on both you and pizza?
At “Sheltering Winds” rehab in upstate New York, Jessa loves playing analyst as a way to both be the primary object of attention without being the analysand. The undercurrent of sadistic narcissism underlying this role of analyst (commonplace in many a therapist), is meted by the disclosure that Jessa made an agreement with her grandmother to enter rehab for sixty days in exchange for an apartment and a pair of Uggs.
The other rehab patients, including meth-addict Mindy (played by Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon) and lighter fluid huffing Laura (played by Danielle Brooks, Orange is the New Black’s Taystee), loathe Jessa for her pomposity and unsympathetic nature. Everyone is aware that Jessa is great at diagnosing, or reading, everyone except herself. The hypocrisy of her saying “I’m really sorry that your uncle fucked you, [but] we can’t go around blaming other people for our shit behavior,” to Laura ends with Laura throwing a cup of coffee in her face—ok, and she also told Laura she’s a lesbian because she “hated having sex with [her] boyfriend…and [her] vest.” (The vest is, in fact, SUPER GAY.)
Going into Laura’s room—Jessa has been placed under a “male ban” and must, suggestively, wear a “Females Only” sign around her neck—she apologizes to her and posits that “[drugs] were a placeholder for pussy.” ….And there’s only one way to know if Laura is really gay, right? So Jessa “[goes] down on fat, gay Laura,” explaining to the center’s director that “it was basically charity.” Because gay girls loved being fucked with “out of charity,” right?
Ever insufferable, Jessa is booted from rehab and contacts Hannah—for the first time in months—asking to be rescued from Sheltering Winds. Hannah, furious, can’t say no—not because of her undying love for her friend, but because she’s curious to see how an epic road trip could blossom into an extra chapter or two for her memoir. Jessa is unsympathetic because her arrested development circulates around her abandonment issues; Hannah is unsympathetic because she positions herself as an observer/interpreter of culture who absconds from taking any responsibility for her actions or behaviors with other people.
The second episode consists of the road trip to retrieve Jessa. Hannah deliberately leaves Marnie out of excursion, so she, Shosh, and Adam—who is the only one old enough to rent a car—drive north into the Catskills. The trip begins hilariously with Hannah and Shosh singing and dancing to Maroon 5’s douchetastic “One More Night” (a song none of us will admit to liking, even as it rotates on our Spotify “2013 Hits” playlist), which ends abruptly with Adam beating the shit out of the audio player in order to make it stop. Like Ray, Adam functions as an eccentric voice of reason, who works brilliantly as a foil to Hannah’s naive, navel-gazing cultural and ethical assessments about life. His adoration of Hannah is palpable, even Shosh admires how he “gives and give and gives like a saint,” yet he never hesitates to query or challenge her way of thinking. So, when Hannah congratulates herself on being a “model of female friendship,” Adam retorts with “you’re not doing [Jessa] any good [by] taking her out of rehab.”
Adam continues his interrogation of this notion of “female friendship,” which he insightfully describes as “ignoring all logic and being completely hysterical”: “women get stuck in a vortex of guilt and jealousy with each other that keep them from seeing situations clearly.”
This vortex is also known as Girls.
The men of the show, specifically Ray and Adam, have primarily functioned as this type of foil to the four friends, while themselves remaining fallible characters. There is not one character who inhabits the position of moral compass; Adam can select the fork as his favorite utensil, while Shosh can opt for the “cold, soft, pillowy cloud” of the spoon to deliver food into her mouth, with no one being “right.” This method of writing—of fragmenting one’s psyche amongst a handful of characters—is profoundly Shakespearean, and one that produces an extremely acute reading of a particular socio-political landscape. As Season 3 progresses we’ll be given more of Adam’s and Ray’s respective backstories; it remains to be seen how this knowledge will influence how the viewer not only sees them but sees them in relation to the four female protagonists.
When they arrive at Sheltering Winds, they are informed that the facility is completely voluntary—Hannah does not have to sign out Jessa. It is clear that Jessa lied because she craves to be desired, loved, and understood; suffering from abandonment issues (even though she’s the one who abandons people) she needs to feel needed by others. Hannah, furious over yet another act of deception—just like when, in college, Jessa “told [her] to meet [her] at the Free Palestine party, when [she was] actually over at the Israel House”—can’t harbor her resentment for long. She just really wants Jessa to “stop leaving,” again, because Jessa is the one who abandons—the unfortunate pattern of abandonment, whereby the abandoned becomes the abandoner. Hearing Hannah and sensing that she really understands her need, Jessa replies, “I am done with all that.”
The theme of self-awareness marking the maturation of both the girls and the series is set to unfold throughout the remaining episodes of the season. Also to keep an eye out for this season:
—Gaby Hoffmann playing Adam’s demented sister!
—Lesbian style icon Jenna Lyons as Hannah’s boss at GQ!
—The Daily Show’s Jessica Williams as Hannah’s co-worker!
—More horrendous Marnie Marie Michaels singing!
—Awkward straight sex, and more!