Girls Season 3 Review

Photo Credit:http://www.hypable.com/2013/06/21/girls-season-3-new-photo-beach/

Where do we even start? Funnier, meaner, and perhaps even more audience narrowing, Season 3 of Girls was nothing short of a triumph.

When Season 2 ended, I was worried Girls had lost its way, giving in to the Twittersphere and shoving romance down our throats like just about every show we thought Girls was better than. You have to wonder what Season 3 would have been if Charlie (Christopher Abbott) stuck around for round two of he and Marnie’s relationship.

I say this because, at least in Hannah and Adam’s storyline, the third season seems to be deconstructing that perfect heat-of-the-moment reunion that closed out Season 2. We see early and often that Hannah and Adam probably aren’t right for each other, it’s just a matter of when they’re going to realize it.

The only way that happens is growth. Girls grew up this season, forcing its characters to really think about their futures and who they are going to become.

Hannah and Adam, whose relationship serves as a lens to their growth, were the most consistent examples of the true-to-life emotions and circumstances Girls put forward. For example, take Free Snacks, the episode that marked the midpoint of the season and was probably the best half hour the show has ever produced. Hannah got a job in this episode, a real job. She does advertorial writing for GQ, which is not what she wants to do, but instead a job that will pay her for her creativity and writing skills. She’s dealing with the harsh realities that she isn’t fulfilling her dreams at this very moment.

That same episode closes with Adam getting a callback for a revival of Major Barbara. It’s huge, he’s going to be on Broadway. Watching her boyfriend attain success, Hannah eventually gets herself fired from her “safe” job later in the season. These two are outgrowing each other while the show keeps giving us moments of their deeper connection. It’s brilliant because it is as true to life as television gets.

Some other characters didn’t fare quite as well this season.

Abruptly single Marnie has trouble finding her footing, which reflects the writers’ scramble to rewrite her character’s season after Abbott’s unapologetic resignation. It doesn’t all work, but eventually the singing thread that began last season develops and is grounded enough that Marnie ends her season on a high note.

Jessa feels like the opposite. The writers seemed so confident in how they brought her back, giving Jemima Kirke so much great stuff to do in those first two episodes while she’s in rehab. But her shoehorned in relapse late in the season felt like a desperate attempt at giving Jessa a storyline when she didn’t really have one. Her part in the finale was underdeveloped, but gave enough closure to her entire season that I’m eagerly anticipating what comes of Jessa next.

Shoshanna, on the other hand, was just a mess all around. Having no real place in this season, Shosh occasionally talks about graduating but mostly spends time sleeping around. Her part in the finale, however, came close to redeeming this all, as she failed a course and then immediately tried to get Ray back.

But while not everyone’s seasonal arc totally clicked, most individual episodes had so much clever insight on the lives of 20 somethings that they stand alone. Females Only and Truth or Dare beautifully covered drug addiction. Dead Inside and Flo gave us very different sides of death and how we perceive it. Only Child subtly investigates that aspect of Hannah’s personality. Beach House stands among the best representations of friendship in any artistic medium. Role-Play and I Saw You bravely and tragically show a crumbling relationship. Free Snacks and Two Plane Rides poignantly and realistically portray how your career can literally take you anywhere.

So while Shoshanna or whoever was “off” in certain entries affected the season, most of what was trying to come across on screen was so captivatingly real that it is easily forgiven. Mad Men is the only other show I can think of that can so effectively spend an episode investigating one aspect of its characters lives, only to put it on the shelf for you to wait to see how it fits into the big picture. That’s because, like Mad MenGirls is about how its characters move from very specific moments in their life to who they are going to become.

Critics of Girls say nothing happens on the show, that it’s just privileged youngsters complaining. By no means are they wrong, but they are missing the humor of watching them do so, the tragedy when the show gives them something real to complain about, and the honesty of what their lives are like. That honesty is what makes Girls one of the best things on television right now. Grade: A

By Matt Dougherty

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