Girls: “The Bounce” Season 6 Episode 7 Review

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“The Bounce” was perhaps the most bipolar episode yet of Girls. Really high highs and really low lows had me in a volatile swirl of eye-rolling and emotional connection. This episode has the show’s impending ending at the forefront of its mind, and thus starts to move a few characters to the place where we’re going to leave them in three weeks. Character development was plentiful in “The Bounce,” just not all of it was very good.

The spotlights were on Hannah, Elijah, and Marnie this week. In that order, there was great material, a mixed bag, and some of the most infuriating scenes on the series yet. Let’s start with the terrible, shall we?

Marnie can’t pay rent because her music career hasn’t quite taken off as she hoped it would, the blame for which she lays entirely on Desi. Instead of looking for more ways to make money, she resorts to complaining to her mother and going to the pawn shop to try and sell her “precious” sweet 16 jewelry. The Girls writers have taken a long-time problematic character that they so wonderfully fixed last season and somehow made her worse than ever. This season, Marnie has become a symbol for why Girls needs to end. Her senseless bitching isn’t entertaining anymore, especially as it reaches new extremes in a season where these characters should be growing more than ever. As for her supposed profound realization, thanks to the clerk at the pawn shop, it just feels a little conceited. “I genuinely hope you’re doing well,” Marnie says to Desi over the phone, in what is hopefully a goodbye so we never ever have to see this character again. The problem here is that Marnie sounds like she’s trying to convince herself that she hopes Desi is doing well, and that this 180 her personality did in two seconds is just very…high school. You can practically hear Marnie loudly telling Hannah in the cafeteria that she’s not going to let Desi run her down anymore, stating it slightly different ways in a repetitive monologue that she so believes to be profound. Sadly, for this character, who was one of the most relatable in season one, that’s what Girls‘ writing has come down to.

Elijah, meanwhile, looks to be joining the ranks of his wildly successful friends. Adam is a director/writer/actor. Jessa is a movie producer. Hannah wrote a book and, after almost no experience, had an article printed in The New York Times. Marnie and Desi did a tour for their album. Now there’s Elijah, who gets cast in a musical version of White Men Can’t Jump at the end of the episode. Let’s get one thing straight, there is no group of friends in Brooklyn or anywhere else who all start out working at coffee shops and all end up “making it.” Girls‘ augmented reality of these lazy characters finding success has never worked, partially because the show has done so little over the years to justify that they deserve such success (save for Adam).

But the audition bits are quite a bit of fun, and Andrew Rannells is of course very talented. The very clever wrench thrown into this storyline, however, is the return of Dill, the show’s version of Anderson Cooper. Dill is in the midst of a media scandal because the press got word that he tried to specifically adopt a white baby and buy one on the black market. His arrival sends Elijah into a tizzy, but the speech he gives him upon returning home from his audition is very good, showing that Elijah has grown at least a little bit over the years. Sadly, it’s quickly undone by the implication that they’re getting back together right after Elijah’s speech ends.

Finally, best served this week was Hannah, who’s pregnancy storyline is starting to come into its own, even though she’s still way too separated from the rest of the cast. She spends most of “The Bounce” hanging out with Dill and waiting for Paul Louis to call her back. When he does, Girls puts on a stunning display of writing and acting. Paul Louis’s response to everything is gut-wrenching. His involvement will not exist once Hannah has the baby, in fact, he was very dismissive, but not before trying to suggest a name for his son that he’s never going to meet. Lena Dunham was terrific as she reacted to everything Paul Louis was saying. But the most profound moment of the episode comes just after, when Dill goes to comfort her and the pair break down in tears. “We’re all just naked kids,” he sobs. Here’s a man who has everything connecting with a woman who really could be on the brink of losing everything she knows, and they share in a universal truth. If Girls‘ final point is that life isn’t easy, and you’re always going to feel like a kid, that’s a dark note to end on. But making this point here, with three episodes left, leads me to believe the true final statement will be a variation of that where these characters’ support systems will be of the greatest importance. But with episodes as simultaneously great and terrible as this one, it’s impossible to tell. Grade: B-

By Matt Dougherty

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