Girls Season 2 Review

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HBO’s Girls had a lot to live up to in its second season, and for the most part, I think they delivered.

The consistency of both the writing and acting on Girls was rightfully recognized during awards season, and though there were some episodes that were misses (“Bad Friend” comes to mind) most of the ten episodes were extremely on point. Some riskier episodes paid off, “One Man’s Trash” featuring only Lena Dunham and Patrick Wilson and “Video Games” where we meet Jessa’s father both strayed from the general episodic formula of the series, and ended up being very successful when we look back at the season as a whole.

I can’t talk about this season without talking about the boys of Girls. Elijah, though only in a few episodes, was hilarious in his interactions with every character. Though his departure was necessary to the progression of the season, it came slightly too soon for me. Charlie’s rise to success was an interesting foil to Marnie’s fall from grace, and though I’m still unsure about the nature of their reunion, I’m glad it means we’ll get to see more Charlie next season. Alex Karpovsky as Ray proved himself as both a master of dark comedy and of emotion and vulnerability this season through his relationship with Shoshanna. And Adam Driver’s portrayal of Adam Sackler never fell short of spectacular as he struggled with his alcoholism, losing Hannah, and trying to find his place in the world.

I think the most significant difference between the show’s freshman and sophmore season lies in the focus on the girls. In season two, we got literally one scene where all four girls were together. They really concentrated on each girl’s individual storyline, which had its benefits and drawbacks.

Jessa’s absence for a lot of the season due to Jemima Kirke’s pregnancy was unfortunate, because she was absolutely captivating when she was on screen. The disintegration of her marriage to Thomas John and her subsequent mini-break down was fascinating to watch, given Jessa’s free spirit and apparent lack of attachment to almost anything in her life. The scene between Hannah and Jessa in “It’s a Shame About Ray” where Jessa plops down into the tub with her best friend was one of the most touching moments all season, all series really. I can’t wait for Jessa’s return next season, and for her to be featured more regularly, because not only is she an interesting charcter to watch on her own, but her and Lena Dunham have such wonderful chemistry together. Their real life friendship carries over beautifully on screen, and gives both of their out of control lives some strange but comforting moments of stability.

Shoshanna got much more airtime as she navigated her tumultuous relationship with Ray, and the performances of both Zosia Mamet and Alex Karpovsky were incredible. Both the scene where they said “I love you,” for the first time, and their breakup were two of the most moving performances all season. Shoshanna is a little younger than the rest of the girls, but sometimes she seems wiser, seems to be the only one who truly knows what she wants. But she doesn’t quite know how to get there. Which is why she’s such a charming character, and this season we got to see much more depth from her.

At the beginning of the season, Marnie was my absolute favorite character to watch. Allison Williams walked us through Marnie’s struggles with the finesse of a much more seasoned actress. Jobless, single, drifting from her best friend…Marnie made a lot of mistakes, and seeing her let go was refreshing in comparison to her much more uptight personality last season. My issue with Marnie’s character didn’t come until the last episode and her reunion with Charlie, because I really wanted Marnie to come into her own. Without having to depend on a guy.

Lena Dunham was absolutely amazing, handling a much darker storyline for Hannah this season as the OCD she struggled with in high school reemerged. At the beginning of the season, Hannah actually seemed to be getting herself together, mostly by cutting off her relationship with Adam. But as she spiraled out of control with her anxieties as she attempted to write her first e-book, there were certain scenes that were literally painful to watch (the Q-tip…). And in the end, she reunited with Adam. Adam had his own difficulties this season readjusting to life without Hannah and a new relatiosnhip, all of which were given an incredible life of their own by Adam Driver’s incredible performance.

I’m still not sure how I feel about Marnie and Hannah reuniting with their exes. As I said in my review of the finale, it isn’t that I am completely opposed to the reunions. Just that the one I was waiting all season for was Hannah and Marnie’s. The two, whose friendship was the rock that held much of the first season together, ended up relying way too much on the men in their lives, when I think all the viewers wanted was for them to be able to rely on one another again. I’m hopeful that next season this will happen, but we’ll have to wait and see.

Did this season of Girls live up to its first? Not quite. Because prior to the pilot, we had never seen anything like this on television before. Its raw incredibly smart humor. It’s uncomfortably relatable depictions of relationships: romantic, family, platonic, and sexual. Its daring to show a naked Lena Dunham week after week, choosing to let the more conventional beauties on the show cover up. Nothing was going to quite top the novelty of being exposed to all of that for the first time. But for a sophmore season, they came pretty close. Grade: B

By: Meghan Coan

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