I watch Girls and I do so semi-religiously, despite being a 33 year-old guy who doesn’t live in New York anymore and looks like a cross between a sub-par college football player and a character from Of Mice and Men. I doubt I’m really in their demo, which is actually an increasing hard group for them to actually reach (hence putting the first two episodes of this season on YouTube for free — although neither is embeddable). The basic breakdown of Girls, if you have no context around it, is four female friends in their early to mid 20s in NYC. They alternate between boyfriends and one-night stands and dramatic life situations and navigating careers and all that. Judd Apatow is an EP. Season 1 was a powerhouse (I watched the 10 episodes in basically 5.25 hours after they all aired), Season 2 was uneven but had some great moments, and now we’re about four-five episodes into Season 3.
They actually put this Sunday’s episode on HBO Go early and I watched it last night, but I won’t talk a lot about it in case someone reads this and hasn’t seen it yet. I’ve said before that I actually think the guys on the show might be the best characters (but that has a lot to do with the context of, uh, me being a guy and having lived in NYC during that relative age block), but basically, the problem of this season is that there’s too much about Hannah (that’s Lena Dunham). That’s good in one way, because it gives you a lot more Adam Driver (the boyfriend), who is becoming a kind of semi-reluctant star these days (he stole two scenes in the last Coen Brothers movie, for example).
The problem is, a lot of the power of Season 1 came from how the girls interacted with each other — and that’s pretty much absent in this season, for the most part. Check this out, from WSJ:
I was excited for the new season, but the last three episodes have disappointed me. The girls aren’t interacting much and I feel like they’re floundering again. Each girl is so wrapped up in her own head that she can’t reach out and REALLY be there for the others. I’ve never disliked Hannah, I just found her mildly annoying. After this episode I can actually say that I don’t like her.
Now, this whole thing could be logistical — it’s possible that the other three actresses had other shit going on in and out of filming Season 3 — or it could be deliberate — which is to say, reflecting the idea that when a 25 year-old girl gets a boyfriend, she often tunes out some of the core females in her life. I’m not entirely sure (or maybe it’s a mix). The only real episode this year where the girls interacted was Hannah’s birthday party, and even that episode was primarily about Marnie’s singing awkwardness, Ray getting into a fight with a semi-gay book editor, Ray and Shoshanna, and Adam’s sister. This last episode, that I’m not discussing deeply, basically had 1.5 scenes with Shoshanna and Jessa, one full scene and a half-scene with Marine (the full scene is interesting, but odd), and the rest of the show is about Hannah, Adam, and Adam’s sister. It seems like you could re-title the show this season Hannah and it wouldn’t miss a beat.
There are broader themes around this season, like this:
I think this is another “walking id” moment—as Jim put it last season, all the characters on this show are mouthpieces for their rawest uncensored sentiments.
It’s possible that the arc of this season is supposed to be about detachment and (semi) emotional depravity, in which case some of the themes make a little more sense — although the overfocus on Hannah is still bringing down the show. There needs to be more with the other girls, either giving them more legitimate plotlines or bringing them together in a broader way. It’s possible that’s going to happen as the season includes — and we seem to have Shosh’s 15-year plan, Jessa’s relationship with her HS friends, and this new Marnie thing I’m not discussing yet as possibilities — but if I see another episode driven around Dunham and her lack of empathy, I’m going to start to sour on the show.