Entertainment :: Television

HBO’s Girls :: One Man’s Trash

by Kevin Taft
Contributor
Tuesday Feb 12, 2013
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The fabulously funny Lena Dunham
The fabulously funny Lena Dunham  

This week’s episode of HBO’s "Girls" was a strange contained episode much like the episode in Season One where Hannah (Lena Dunham) goes home to see her parents. This time Hannah is at work when Ray (Alex Karpovsky) is confronted by an angry neighbor named Joshua (Patrick Wilson) who is pissed off that the coffee shop’s trash is being piled into his cans and he has no room for his own. (This is a telling point I just made. More later.) Well, wouldn’t you know, Hannah is the one who has been doing this so she goes to him and apologizes and before you know it, he’s invited her inside. There, she sees another world - a world she probably wants but will never admit she does. It’s a gorgeous house - spacious, immaculate, perfectly decorated. "I didn’t know houses like this existed in my neighborhood, " she admits. "I feel like I’m in a Nancy Meyers movie."

Clearly, Joshua wants for nothing. He is a doctor, don’t ya know, and a recently divorced one at that. Well Hannah’s charms somehow get the best of him and when she kisses him... he kisses her back. Soon enough, he asks her to have dinner, then, stay the night. The next morning he takes the day off to spend it with her. They do nothing all day but talk, play naked Ping-Pong, and have sex. Occasionally, Hannah asks questions. For example, what happened to his marriage? But then she ruins them by saying, "well, what did you do?," immediately suggesting it must have been his fault. Regardless, he is drawn to her and ignores it until later that night.

That’s when Hannah lets her freak flag fly and she becomes the naval-gazing, can’t shut her up, judgmental whiner she has started to become. She reveals a lot about herself and the fact that she’s lonely, etc., but then berates him for not replying in kind. Quite frankly, I think this is the moment where he thought, "ummm, she’s kinda nuts, but... I’ll play it cool until I go to work tomorrow and she leaves." (After less than 48 hours if someone was getting on my case about not opening up about my deepest feelings, I’d show them the door, especially since she seems to be too preoccupied with talking about her own issues to really pay attention to what he says anyway.) She calls him "Josh" even though he repeatedly tells her he likes "Joshua." He explains his wife missed San Diego and moved back, but she later refers to her moving back to San Francisco. She meets his revelation about a homosexual experience when he was nine with a dismissal and that her issues were more important. See? There’s no room for HIS trash because SHE’S dumping all of hers in his bins.

I’m tired of seeing Lena Dunham naked. Seriously.

And that’s what’s so different about this episode. While I like Hannah’s wit and self-deprecation, after a while her general "me me me" stance that her generation has embraced grows tiresome. Joshua, being older, recognizes this and understands he has to bail. Will Hannah learn from this? Who knows? But it’s interesting to watch someone in his or her twenties realize there is more to attain, not only in a comfort, but also a peace. Joshua is calm and quiet and can spend his time reading his paper in silence. He doesn’t need the Internet (I never saw him with a computer) and seems at ease in his world. Hannah disrupts it, seemingly in an enjoyable way, but that joy fades when he’s made to feel like he has to be a patient in a therapist’s office.

So it’s strange. I love Lena Dunham, but her character is becoming a bit of an annoyance. At first it was funny, but... now I’ve had enough. And I love that the show glorifies and sexualizes the non-traditional body type usually reserved for roles that include a lot of nudity, but... at this point, I’m tired of seeing Lena Dunham naked. Seriously. Not because of her "everywoman body." I appreciate that. But she was naked through practically the entire episode. It’s distracting because by now there is really no reason for it. She’s made her point and it was a terrific one. Now it just seems overkill; it would be overkill with any of the characters. Enough already. Let’s focus on the characters. Besides, I didn’t really feel the chemistry between Wilson and Dunham, anyway. It felt forced much like Hannah’s intrusion on this guy’s life.

Hopefully, we’ll be moving back to the other girls to check in on them. Fingers crossed they will be clothed. Although I think I saw Booth (Jorma Taccone) naked in the preview for next week. Fine, call me a hypocrite but he is adorable, especially sans clothing.

Kevin Taft is a screenwriter/critic living in Los Angeles with an unnatural attachment to ’Star Wars’ and the desire to be adopted by Steven Spielberg. He can be seen in the flesh on the weekly PBS movie review series "Just Seen It."

Comments

  • Anonymous, 2013-02-14 01:55:09

    I totally disagree with your take on this episode. The doctor’s isn’t living an idealized "mature" life --- he’s sad and lonely, unable to deal with emotional complexity (as he reveals when he admits that his wife left him because he didn’t pay attention to her feelings --- this is a man disconnected from feelings, someone who likes things to be clean, neat, light, and "reasonable".) Everything about his life is routine, orderly: he takes out his trash. His apartment is absurdly clean, even though he lives by himself --- not one chair out of place, dish left out. He didn’t pay attention to his wife’s feelings, and ultimately doesn’t like mess in general: particularly emotional mess, such as Hannah’s. As for Hannah’s issues: they make perfect sense for someone in her situation. Like most of her well-educated cohort, she could have chosen a life like the doctor’s: she could have gone to law school or med school and followed that path to a life of relative ease and comfort. Instead, she chose to take a much more risky, more difficult life, trying to be a serious artist, a writer. With that comes a lot of material sacrifices, something that she admits, quite honestly, she misses. But she knows full well she wouldn’t choose the life of the doctor. Furthermore, the doctor’s life isn’t all its cracked up to be: the guy is reasonable to a fault, but someone who can’t seem to process any kind of complex emotions, from his wife or from Hannah or even, one suspects, from himself. He lives a neatly ordered life, he takes out the trash, he doesn’t share his feelings not because he doesn’t know Hannah but because he just doesn’t share feelings in general. It’s an alternative life, but not a particularly desirable one, even if the physical comforts are appealing.


  • Anonymous, 2013-02-15 10:26:55

    I think you underestimate the difficulties that choosing his path represents. Its a lot of hard work, and results in the loss of one’s youth to hard work and reclusive studies. I’d argue that Hannah could not have made that choice in the state that we find her in the season 1 premie. Now that she knows that there’s more to life then just being rebellious, she might actually put some serious work into her career over the next few episodes.


  • Anonymous, 2013-02-15 10:27:40

    I think you underestimate the difficulties that choosing his path represents. Its a lot of hard work, and results in the loss of one’s youth to hard work and reclusive studies. I’d argue that Hannah could not have made that choice in the state that we find her in the season 1 premie. Now that she knows that there’s more to life then just being rebellious, she might actually put some serious work into her career over the next few episodes.


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