Aspiring writers are often encouraged to write about their own experiences, a tactic that “Girls” creator and star Lena Dunham uses frequently. But sometimes, when a young writer doesn’t feel she or he has “lived” enough, an experience is contrived with the sole intention of then writing about it. Enter Hannah Horvath’s insane night on cocaine.
This was hinted at last season, when Hannah expressed a little too much envy of ex-classmate-turned-successful author Talia Shifrin. Self-congratulatory and talentless Talia had the good fortune, in Hannah’s warped view, of nabbing a boyfriend who then killed himself. She then nabbed a book deal. So when Hannah becomes a freelancer for hipster website JazzHate, she’s primed and ready “to write the fuck out of” a piece about snorting coke for the first time. It's no death of a loved one, but it will have to do.
Of course, drug use can be a bad thing. It even addicts some people, which isn’t within the limits of Hannah’s consideration when she approaches her building’s designated junkie, Laird (Jon Glaser). Laird is now clean, but we sense he has a crush on hapless Ms. Horvath, and agrees to hook her up via a former dealer. Hannah’s clunk-headed response to this is excitement, as opposed to concern that Laird communicating with a dealer might be a trigger for him. Nonetheless, Hannah and roommate Elijah have their coke plans solidified.
Dunham has proven a gifted and natural comedic actress since her feature “Tiny Furniture,” and it’s never been more apparent than in this new season of “Girls.” She isn’t afraid to saddle Hannah with ugly character flaws, and with staggeringly unflattering outfit decisions. For the entire second act of this episode, Hannah has her tits out and tummy rolls flowing over, thinly veiled by fluorescent yellow mesh. It’s an unforgiving fashion choice wherever she goes -- on the dance floor, into an equally fluorescent convenience store, and to the apartment of playboy leprechaun Booth Jonathan (Jorma Taccone).
By the time Hannah and Elijah have made it to Booth’s apartment, much has happened on their coke journey. The two went to a club pulsing to the beats of gay twin deejays Andrew and Andrew. Elijah confessed to Hannah, mid-snort, that he and Marnie had sex. Hannah flipped out. The two discovered Laird had been following them. Marnie texted Hannah that she had finally bagged Booth, and Hannah decided to confront Marnie, chez Booth, about her betrayal.
During this confrontation comes the crème-de-la-crème of Dunham’s comedic chops. She slaps her chest, and launches into a monologue about Marnie being a bad friend. Here it is, in part:
“What makes someone a good friend is not doing something that you know will intentionally really hurt another person. And you did that, and you looked me in the eye, again and again, and you lied to me with your eyes and you said to me, by not saying anything, that you’d done nothing. So who’s the bad friend? It’s YOU.”
Whatever vaild point she makes is undercut by her ridiculous appearance, and the fact that she’s chosen the worst time, place and mind-state to communicate it. Again, this is Dunham’s keen sense of humor as an actress and writer at work. She knows it would be a mistake to put Hannah in a righteous position for too long.
Meanwhile, Allison Williams, who I thought struggled with the role of Marnie last season, is now showing a distinct command of her comedic timing. When Marnie emerges from Booth’s leaning tower of TVs, having endured gruesome blaring images and Duncan Sheik’s “Barely Breathing,” her delivery of “What the fuck, man” is spot-on. After the two have bizarre sex, with Booth instructing Marnie to stare into the eyes of a creepy Victorian doll, she bursts into laughter so natural that I couldn’t help but chuckle along with her. Williams is ostensibly the second lead of “Girls,” and like Dunham she’s become a very funny actress in her own right.
Bits and pieces:
- This episode, titled “Bad Friend,” was directed by Jesse Peretz. It was co-written by Dunham and Sarah Heyward.
- Best line goes to Elijah: “When did you eat jerky?”
- Runner-up for best line goes to Laird: “I’ve been following you to protect you, like the mom in ‘Extremely Close and Extremely Loud.’”
- We don’t see much of Shoshanna or Jessa this episode, but Shoshanna does mention her annoyance with Ray’s all-night “Allie McBeal” marathons: “I was like, excuse me! I have to be somewhere in the morning, unlike you.” Uh-oh -- is there trouble in pa-Ray-dise?