Girls, the Judd Apatow-produced HBO comedy, is my newest obsession. Written, directed and acted by Hollywood’s new indie wunderkind, Lena Dunham, Girls is a semi-autobiographical interpretation of twentysomethings making it in the big city. Dunham herself professes to the show’s essence as “hashtag white people problems,” a truth that happens to be precisely the best and worst thing about Girls. The show surrounds the ceaselessly entertaining (and oftentimes awkward) Generation Y issues of getting cut off by your parents, trapping a none-too-interested boyfriend and accidentally smoking crack before running around Brooklyn pantless — what? Exactly. Girls is real, self-indulgent and strangely self-aware of its own self-indulgence. If that doesn’t eerily sound like a description of yourself, then perhaps these five memorable moments from the first season of Girls may intrigue you.
Shoshanna, a spoiled NYU student from Long Island and one of the four main characters in Girls, attends a poppin’ warehouse party in Bushwick. Having taken a toke of a mysterious glass cigarette she assumed to be bud in the bathroom line, she literally runs into her too-cool cousin, Jessa. Jessa, ever the worldly traveler, informs the hyperactive Shosh, “You smoked crack.” But it’s cool cause she’s going to be “her crack spirit guide” — except she ditches Shoshanna and her random friend Ray takes her place. He protests the babysitting (“I’m not a fucking JAP daycare!”), but Jessa says all he needs to do is “make sure she doesn’t jump off a roof or get fingered by a beat boxer.” Eventually, Ray ends up chasing a skirtless Jessa down the streets of BK. The nearly naked Shoshanna karate chops Ray because she mistakes him for a rapist, but upon realization of his true identity gives him a “totally nonsexual” physical therapy massage in his hurt crotch. In this scene, Dunham manages to cultivate the most unexpected love interest between two completely polar characters in a manner so bizarre it somehow works.
I’m a Man
Marnie, this beautiful, uptight gallery girl, has unpleasant sex with her boyfriend, Charlie (whose touch, she says, feels like that of a creepy uncle under the Thanksgiving table — ouch!). When she meets the arrogant artist Jonathan Booth, played by Lonely Island’s Jorma Taccone, at an art show, she’s all kinds of hot and bothered. They go to the High Line, where the ongoing flirtation culminates with his final line: “But I want you to know that the first time I fuck you, I might scare you a little. Because I’m a man and I know how to do things.” Literally, shivers. Somehow, “man” is really not the first word that comes to mind for “that Lonely Island Guy” but yet Taccone as Booth is strangely convincing. Then Marnie does the only likable thing she’s done all season thus far: She runs to the gallery, locks herself in the bathroom and masturbates to Gang Gang Dance’s “Mind Killa.” And in a baffling way, the release from her climax results in a little bit of a release in our own audience tension from watching high-strung Marnie’s rigidity finally dissipate.
Shoshanna and central character Hannah (Lena Dunham) watch their favorite Gameshow Network series, Baggage, in which three female contestants each have three suitcases: a small one, a medium one and big one. They also each have their hidden ‘baggage’ (their embarrassing secrets), which, if too freaky, will get them eliminated. On the show, one chick’s smallest baggage is the thousand dollars a month she spends on her weave (“Unbeweaveable!” proclaims host Jerry Springer), her medium baggage is that she plans weddings after the first date and her biggest baggage is that she pokes holes in condoms. As for Shoshanna, her smallest baggage is her irritable bowel syndrome, her medium baggage is that she truly doesn’t love her grandmother and her biggest baggage is that she’s a virgin — the crux of her storyline for the rest of the season. Though many of the season’s memorable scenes are often rooted in the inherently fascinating topics of sex, drugs and violence, Girls proves clever dialogue and a compelling concept (seriously, what would my baggage be?) can carry any moment into television history.
The truly weird tangle between sex and power continues as Hannah and her pseudo-boyfriend, Adam, whose dick she “chased like the Beatles,” have a fascinating role reversal. It’s always been Hannah who comes to the ever-aloof Adam for some kinky and (lightly) abusive 50 Shades of Grey sex, but this time she comes out of his bathroom to see him jerking off in front of her. Realizing Adam wants a serving of his own sexual humiliation and good old-fashioned degradation, Hannah expertly scripts her dominatrix dirty talk. Toward the end, she even throws in a little hooker roleplay telling Adam, “You heard me, you filthy boy, I want cab money!” Considering the first half of the episode revolved around Hannah’s failed sexual exploitation of her boss, this is a sign of evolution in her character arc in that she was able to make the elusive Adam her sexual and financial slave — if even for just a moment.
The Least Virgin-y Virgin Ever
In this scene, Shoshanna finally gets a proposition to remove her v-card from an old camp friend, David. He strips her “hot rod little bod” down to her set of matching lingerie, but then gets all gun-shy when Shoshanna mentions she’s never had sex before. Suddenly David’s all like, “I’m totally fine having sex with you once you’ve already had sex but virgins just aren’t my thing.” To this, Shosh responds, “Except for the fact that I haven’t had sex, I’m like the least virginy virgin ever!” David goes on: “You know, virgins get attached … and they bleed.” Shosh is resilient: “It’s amazing cause I’m totally not an attached bleeder.” And so in the most uncomfortably believable rejection of sex, Shoshanna’s v-card survives another day.