The experience of watching this season of Girls is not unlike eating with my diabetic grandma. When I share meals with my grandma (not very often since she lives in the Philippines), she considers it a cheat day. She douses herself in more perfume than usual and teases her dark brown beehive even higher. She also makes sure everything we consume is dripping in salts, sweets, and butter. By the end of the ordeal, your palate is so blown out and your taste buds are so broken that soda no longer maintains its sweetness, and all you can smell is Charlie.*
Lena Dunham is guilty of making every episode this season feel like my grandma's cheat day. The volume on her characters is set so high that the only way we know Marnie is allegedly still Marnie is that Allison Williams is still playing her. And the situations they've been placed in each week just feel like an attempt to shock you more than they did last week — Shoshanna bedding her hot, but very stupid new boyfriend and trying to negotiate terms of her relationship while naked, bent over, and penetrated might be a clearest example of this.
The problem with Dunham's approach this season (and my grandma's approach to food), is that it's hard to appreciate some of the more refined conversations Dunham is having— like this episode's questions about art and commerce. Dunham's Hannah Horvath finds herself an advertorial job at GQ this week and promptly faces a dfficult choice between her cherished creativity and the security that provides her with a paycheck and Sun Chips.
By the end of the episode, Dunham has touched upon the frustrating job market, the obnoxious eagerness of coworkers, office politics, and the reason why people stick with jobs that devour them from the inside-out. By the end of the episode, Hannah has, at least for this day, sold her soul to Conde Nast by falling asleep before finishing her "three hours a day" writing regimen.
Yet, that conversation is betrayed by Dunham desire to amplify. Hannah can't simply be good at her job, she has to be the best. Hannah can't be upset with her job, she has to quit right now. Her boss, Janice (played marvelously by Jenna Lyons), can't be a devil who wears Prada, she has to be a devil who wears Prada but is also outfitting her home with copper pipes. It all begins to feel self-indulgent.
And this continues with other characters too. Marnie becomes a girl that sleeps with her friends' exes (though I applaud her taste in Real Housewives locales). Shoshanna becomes a sociopath bent on hammering out a relationship schedule mid-coitus. And of course (of course!) Jessa is working as a disgruntled christening gown consultant.
I understand that we're supposed to care more about Hannah's big moment here. She's on the painful verge of giving up her dream. But it feels like we've been doing this rollercoaster waltz for the last four weeks without any real consequence.
There was a moment in last night's episode where Hannah hands in her resignation and it barely elicits a response from her new boss. "That’s it?" Hannah asks, wondering why her boss wouldn't fight to keep her around. Sometimes I wonder the same thing about Girls.
* Clearly, I am a monster for putting my grandma on blast.