End of Season Report: Season 2 of Girls

27 Mar

Girls, one by one

Season 2 of Girls was largely more confident and sure of itself, compared to the first, especially in the early episodes, where it picked up a lot faster and didn’t have to waste time setting up the characters into place. The weakest episode of the season, unfortunately, was the final episode in which a show which prides itself on being a little bit different (this is HBO, after all), solved a couple of major issues with simple solutions that didn’t really hold up after thinking them through.  Still, there was more good than bad on the whole.  Let’s break it down Girl by Girl.

Jessa is my least favorite character in the show by a long shot, but I do think Girls went some way to make her more sympathetic with a showcase episode about her visiting her dad; we get to see part of what made Jessa Jessa and it was handled well.  I do think both her disintegrating marriage and her time spent with her family humanized he and fleshed out her character much more than in the first season.  I’m just not sure it’s not too little at this point for me.  Jessa just happens to be the type of character I’m most likely to find irritating; she’s extremely flaky, impetuous  and makes critical life decisions on a whim without thinking about it.  While I think the marriage to Chris O’Dowd led to some interesting episodes, the decision to get married just like that is exactly the kind of bad decision Jessa continues to make over and over again.  Forget bad decisions though; everyone makes those.  She’s not there for her friends when they need her and floats in and out of their lives with no notice.  She did the least of the four girls this season, partly due to Jemima Kirke’s pregnancy. I did like her featured parts a lot more than her segments in the first season, but she has a long way to go.

In contrast to the much heavier personalities of the other characters, Shoshanna is largely bubbly and inoffensive, even when she’s struggling. I enjoyed both the Ray and Shosh romance through the season and the fact that they broke up in the season finale.  I don’t think they ultimately make a ton of sense together and I think it’s probably best for both of them to break up, but I think the relationship spurred some serious movement in both characters for the better.  Both kind of fell into the romance and were doubling down merely because the relationship spurred its own momentum.  Ray needed an impetus to break out of his life rut, and he got it with his promotion, even if the relationship ended anyway.  The relationship also gave Shoshanna a clearer view at what she really wanted, or at least what she didn’t want.  Ray might be my favorite character on the show, and I think these plots were handled really well throughout the season.  My favorite Ray plotline may have been when him and Adam teamed up to return a dog Adam stole to its owner on Staten Island, and while they frequently fought, while Ray was wrong, possibly as often as Adam, I generally sided with Ray.

Marnie next.  In some respects I have sympathy for Marnie’s second season troubles; her dreams for her life in the art world is falling apart, one she’s sought out for years.  Still, she’s so arrogant, condescending, and cruel to Charlie that it makes it difficult to feel bad for her as I would towards most people in her position.  She goes through a lot of shitty situations, but she never quite changes her attitude through them. I was hoping that as a result of all her struggles, she’s realize some of these negative qualities at stop them, or at least work on stopping them.  She loses her job, and that’s understandably frustrating, but she constantly teases her old boyfriend Charlie, wanting him back when she’s down, and then when anything else comes along, putting him aside, only to get easily jealous and cruelly tease him when he seems to be doing better than her.  Her past behavior towards Charlie renders the should-be heartwarming re-getting together of Charlie and Marnie at the end frustrating; he deserves better, or at least for Marnie to have changed one iota from when they first broke up.  He was a super irritating emo whiner sad sack at the beginning of the series but he’s seemingly matured, while she hasn’t at all.  I’m not sure whether we’re actually supposed to be annoyed, or whether we’re supposed to think that Marnie has grown, due solely to the events in the last episode, but it didn’t quite work for me.  It was only in the second to last episode when she belts out her super inappropriate Stronger rendition at Charlie’s company party.

Lena is my favorite character by a longshot, and I think her plots throughout most of the season are by far the best.  I really enjoyed the bottle-y episode that was basically her and Patrick Wilson having a two night affair, and I’ve always enjoyed her relationship with her parents, where I often feel sympathy for both parties.  I love the minor character of her editor, and I sympathize with her inability to write on the spot. She’s absolutely more ridiculous than a normal person. As a neurotic myself, I have sympathy with the general way she acts, even if the show magnifies it to an over the top level.  In fact, probably more because she’s so over the top, I don’t treat her as a normal person, which makes some of her insanity easier to swallow.  She’s wrong a lot; she’s unnecessarily mean to Eli and Marnie and several other characters and she does a lot of stupid things for stupid reasons, but I still like her best.  I just hate that simple ending in the last episode, in which Adam picks her up and shows the ultimate romance that prevails in that final moment, even after all the shit that had happened between the two of them over the course of the season.

I’m not sure where Girls will take us next season.  I’m looking forward to it; I think overall, it’s a better show, and I appreciated the opportunity to watch Girls without the massive lovefest and hatefest that accompanied the first season.  Girls is neither as good as its biggest fans say not as bad as its detractors say, but it’s interesting television, and definitively worth watching, which I think is a fairly good place to be for a tv show.  I just wished the last episode had been a little bit different; I know I was supposed to feel super heartwarmed by the reunions of Marnie and Charlie and Adam and Hannah but neither really worked for me.

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