Last night’s episode of HBO’s Girls opened with Hannah, an aspiring writer, discussing a potential assignment with the editor of a website, Jazzhate. The editor shows Hannah a wall where the words “This is Your Comfort Zone” are inside a frame. Off to the side, it says: “This is where the magic happens.” Hannah wants to be sure. “So the magic happens outside your comfort zone?” she deadpans, as the editor nods.
Much of what happened throughout the third episode of Season Two seemed a deliberate attempt to move outside the viewer’s comfort zone – but for me the magic didn’t happen. Though I’ve been a huge fan of the show since it’s debut last season, so far this year, I’ve been disappointed and last night’s episode seemed to hit a new low. In many ways, it seemed that Lena Dunham was pushing the edge of the envelope just for the sake of being bold and daring.
To recap: As part of her writing assignment, Hannah decides to experiment with cocaine along with her Elijah, her ex-boyfriend and current gay roommate. When she tries to get the drug from Laird, a junkie in her building, she discovers that he’s a recovering addict. Laird, clearly smitten with Hannah, says he’ll get it for her anyway – and the adventure begins. She and Elijah end up in a nightclub snorting coke off a toilet seat. Hanna trades shirts with a guy on the dance floor and spends the rest of the episode in a yellow mesh tanktop, her nipples in full view.
Meanwhile, Marnie hooks up with Booth Jonathan, a creepy artist who takes her to his place and locks her up in a dreadful art installation where she’s surrounded by jarring noises and video screens showing images of animals and screaming babies. Later, they have sex and he encourages her to look at a doll who’s watching from the side of the bed. Very creepy.
There’s a big fight scene after Hannah learned that Marnie had sex with Elijah (“Maybe I’m bi,” he said.). And the show ends with Hannah in hallway making out with Laird, but telling him, “It’s just for tonight.” You’re kind of left with the feeling that these girls are even more messed up than you thought.
Obviously you don’t have to like Hannah and her pals to like the show. (Aside from Soshanna and Charlie, I don’t think any of them are particularly likable.) Nor do the escapades of the cast have to seem believable for the show to be enjoyable. But in the first season, the edginess of Girls seemed to be there for a reason: To capture the craziness of twenty-something life. This season, the edginess seems to be there for its own sake — and for me it isn’t working.
What about for you?