Wackily mismatched newlyweds Jessa and Thomas-John (Chris O’Dowd) go to dinner with his parents. It’s Jessa’s first time meeting them, and once we meet them, we understand why Thomas-John has held off on introductions. The middle-aged couple is coiffed and early to the restaurant, clashing with Jessa’s bohemian devil-may-care outfit ensemble and general disregard for punctuality. Kudos on the parents’ casting: Thomas-John’s mom (Deborah Rush) is brittle, blonde and uptight, while his dad (Griffin Dunne) is hilariously bizarre, making moony eyes at Jessa throughout dinner and interjecting with strange non-sequiturs. (Example: “I love movies about schoolgirls who fall in love.” Huh?) But perhaps his weird choices in conversation reflect an interest in steering the discussion away from what his wife clearly wants to broach. “So Jessa,” she says, “You’ve found yourself in a very… successful situation.”
Meanwhile, Hannah is celebrating the publication of her first JazzHate article, and her platonic breakup with roommate Elijah. She throws a dinner party for friends, which begins awkwardly and becomes more so. Shoshanna discovers that boyfriend Ray (Alex Karpovsky) is living with her. How, you may ask, does one “discover” that a partner is actually a live-in partner? The lovey-dovey duo had been spending all their time together, and Ray, out of embarrassment, didn’t have the heart to tell Shoshanna he was ousted from his previous apartment. Just as Thomas-John feels used by Jessa’s insinuation into his lucrative lifestyle, Shoshanna feels used by Ray’s insinuation into her home, and that a significant step in their relationship occurred without her agreement.
The scene between Shoshanna and Ray in the subway station is lovely. Zosia Mamet and Karpovsky are usually called upon in the series for comedic relief, but here they get to play with sadness, insecurity, and the keen feeling of not deserving love. Ray’s admission that he’s a “33-year-old loser” rings true. Often “Girls” can seem so specific to the twentysomething experience, yet Dunham shows that self-disappointment, lack of direction and financial burden haunt us well beyond those few years after college. On a different note, the vaguely “Brokeback Mountain” theme music during this sequence got me a little teary.
I find it interesting that Charlie (Christopher Abbott), the unbearably “kind” boyfriend, is in this episode a remarkable jerk to both current girlfriend Audrey and ex-girlfriend Marnie. All three are invited to Hannah’s disastrous dinner. When Audrey rightfully points out that Marnie is a needy, disrespectful ex, Marnie hightails it to the roof to let off steam. Charlie follows her -- wrong decision. Not only does he ditch his girlfriend, he then kisses Marnie and, upon having his advances rejected, childishly upbraids her for dating Booth Jonathan. Hell has no immaturity like a Charlie scorned.
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