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Ten Thoughts On Girls' Latest Episode: "Only Child"

Screen shot 2014-02-02 at 11.59.38 PM.pngThis week, Hannah meets a new publisher and Marnie goes to Ray for some straight-talk express.

1. Surprise! Hannah's editor had a wife!
Jennifer Westfeldt made a great cameo as David Pressler Goings' widow and totally calls Hannah out when Hannah acts surprised that he was married to a woman. (And even better when Westfeldt says, "Well he was [gay]. Sometimes.") Will we get to learn more about his backstory and what happened to him? Considering the fact that his death seems like more of a plot device for Hannah's continual creative struggle, probably not.

2. Of course Hannah would be using the funeral to network

One of the best lines of the whole funeral scene was when Hannah told Adam "I'm not leaving until I've locked eyes with [New York Times literary critic] Michiko Kakutani. I told you that." Though it was truly excruciating when Hannah pressed David's widow to give her names of other publishers, I felt an iota of sympathy for her because, as Lena Dunham points out in an "Inside the Episode" segment, Hannah's writing is all she has and you can sense the kind of desperation she feels when it's in jeopardy that would lead her to make such tactless decisions. That aside, what continues to remain frustrating is that Hannah's already been called out by Adam on her behavior and the fact that she is unable -- or unwilling -- to alter her actions and show more sensitivity in this situation drives me nuts. I would have liked to see more character growth here.

3. Shosh nervous breakdown in 3-2-1
Since the beginning of the season, we've learned Shosh has been balancing "hijinks" (a.k.a. casual sex) with studies but from the moment we saw her burrow into her hoodie, it seemed like the writers were setting her up for a downfall. We only get a few minutes of Shosh time in this episode but already she seems stressed and on the verge of having a major meltdown -- will the writers "go there" and take the character into a dark place (like Hannah in Season 2) or will they keep her problems banal and comedic like much of Shoshonna's character traits throughout the past two seasons? I'm honestly not sure which scenario I prefer.

4. I liked getting more of Caroline and Adam's back story

We don't know anything about Caroline and Adam's parents but Caroline made an interesting remark when she said, "I spent my formative years raising you." It's hard to take Caroline's word at face value because she's an unreliable character but it's interesting to consider the Sackler parents for a second. Were they out of the picture? Neglectful? Work-a-holics? Addicts? Deceased? I hope more of their family dynamic and family history gets fleshed out before the season is over. We've gotten little bread crumbs in the past -- Adam's preemptive decision to attend AA seems to imply that alcoholism may run in his family -- and with the introduction of Caroline, I'd love to see the familial snapshot complete.

5. Despite the fact that Hannah compared herself to Dr. Phil, she showed a surprisingly decent ability to mediate the Sackler squabbles
I was very skeptical when Hannah attempted to stage a mediation (or intervention as she put it) á la Dr. Phil but she showed some good insight when she told Adam that his criticisms of Caroline were also qualities that he shares. And, for perhaps the first time, Hannah used her own experience (as an only child, which was also the name of the episode) to show insight into someone else's. I thought her most effective line as an amateur social worker came when she told Adam and Caroline to appreciate one another more because, as an only child, all she wanted was to have a sibling.  

6. The joke about Adam Driver's multiple careers was great
I loved the subtle reference to Adam Driver's multiple careers as an actor and former Marine. Ditto when, later in the episode, Caroline tells a rambling story about almost getting cast in the movie Independence Day. I assume this was also a reference to Gaby Hoffmann's career as a child actress though a quick Google search didn't indicate whether Hoffmann was ever, in fact, up for the role of Alicia Casse (fyi that role went to Lisa Jakub who many might remember as the daughter in Mrs. Doubtfire).

7. Was anyone else a tiny bit uncomfortable when Hannah had to sell herself to the editors?
When I initially watched the episode, I chalked up Hannah's joking about "being 15-40 pounds overweight depending how far away from the coast I am" and "my brand is Tombstone [Pizza]" as a result of her not really knowing "who she is" and, despite her constant self-focus, being unable to articulate "her brand." After watching Lena Dunham's commentary and viewing the episode a second time, however, I was struck by the idea that in order to impress her editors, Hannah felt that she had to play into the "overweight, sassy girl" trope. That she had to do a song and dance to win their respect -- and a book deal -- which might not have been the case had she been thinner or "more conventionally attractive." I don't often attribute the same premium Hollywood places on attractiveness to the literary world but seeing Hannah use self-deprecation to sell herself made it clear that at least in her mind, joking was the surest -- or the only -- way to win them over.     

This was fun and juicy but whyyyyy? As soon as that hug lasted more than 1.5 seconds, it was clear shit was going down. Throughout the past two seasons, it's seemed that Marnie and Ray have eyed each other with suspicion -- if not outright contempt -- and it brought Ray tearing Marnie a new one for that dislike to turn to lust. I can only guess that Marnie's sudden vulnerability made her more attractive in Ray's eyes (he'd already said he liked her because he sensed her insecurity) and Marnie wanted to feel better about herself. After what happened when Marnie revealed to Hannah that she'd slept with Elijah, I can't wait  to see whether -- and how -- this hook-up gets revealed to Shosh. Along those lines, my one big complaint about this season so far is that there hasn't been enough interaction between the four Girls girls. As much as their work and romantic lives are interesting (and, occasionally, depressingly relatable), I've always been most fascinated by the dynamics between the friends. I hope Marnie has to face the wrath Shosh's side braid at some point.

9. Caroline is wrong about her brother's M.O.
I thought Caroline missed the mark when she was talking to Hannah and accused her brother of only being there for the good times. As much as a dick as Adam can be, let's not forget that he still took care of Hannah during her OCD tailspin.

10. Adam's freak out doesn't bode well
Adam's reaction to the news that Hannah kicked Caroline out ("I'm supposed to be taking care of her!") makes me think that we're being set up to see some sad shit in the next episode. The naked glass-crushing in episode three was cuckoo but part of me thought she was just doing it for attention. Adam's concern (after all his irritation) makes me wonder if we'll next see Caroline in the psych ward -- or worse.  

Best lines of the episode:

"He had gay apps on on his iPhone and liked to show his ankles but what does that even mean in this day and age?" -- Hannah

"This is a space cigarette invented by Stephen Dorff..." -- Jessa
"If you're serious about improving yourself, you need to do more than just smoke Dorff cigarettes. You need to grocery shop and, like, condition your hair even though I know it does so well with natural oils." -- Shosh

"It was a DOULA!" -- Caroline

"You're like Kathy Griffin on truth serum." -- Mo, the Editorial Assistant

"What do you think I do?" -- Ray
"I don't know. Read, eat soup, write letters of complaints to local businesses." -- Marnie

"Fuck, how many pairs of underwear do you wear?" -- Marnie

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