First thing this morning, critics who had seen this Girls episode ahead of time were filling up my Twitter timeline about who would love it and who would hate it, and what about it should be loved or hated. Most were split. I was nervous. Frankly, there’s nothing about this episode that I should categorically like — readers will note I have always disliked Hannah-centric storylines and episodes, which this season has (with a mere five episodes) already had in spades. So the weirdest thing about “One Man’s Trash,” besides it being entirely about Hannah and Hannah co-opting Jessa’s storyline from last week, is that I didn’t hate it. Hit the jump for my take on this likely polarizing episode.
“One Man’s Trash” felt a lot like deja-vu to me after last week’s meltdown between Thomas-John and Jessa, except Hannah and Joshua’s (Patrick Wilson) story happened much faster and much more quietly. Thomas-John and Jessa are extremes and caricatures — he is the worst sort of self-important jerk who thinks his money is everything, and likes the idea of a bohemian wife because he himself is not very interesting. Jessa, his opposite (and “worst nightmare” as he said last week) is much more of a wild personality than Hannah (even though she has probably never asked anyone to punch her in the chest and then cum on that spot), and at dinner when she talked about heroin and world travel and tiger tattoos, she represented the farthest thing from Thomas-John’s world.
Both Thomas-John and Joshua are older, monied, and seem to like the idea of a wild young thing with whom to share some sexual space and time with. Pretty typical stuff. And as such, as soon as that wild young thing becomes an actual person — a Hannah, a Jessa — with all of their feelings and hangups and oddities, that affection wanes and breaks, because the dream bubble of sex and fun and fantasy has burst.
But Hannah and Jessa are not so naive in the equation. They have their own projections regarding these men, but both also have a sincere desire to just be happy and normal. Maybe Thomas-John and Joshua are too far on the other side of pendulum, but there’s something about the security and normalcy they offer that appeals to the girls, even if they themselves do not. As Hannah said, it’s the realization, often at some point in your 20s, that you aren’t that special. You want to be happy like everyone else — you want the house and the nice things and the loving relationship.
It didn’t seem that Jessa’s liaison with Thomas-John probably changed her much — maybe it did, we’ll find out in coming weeks — but Hannah’s time with Joshua seemed to awaken something interesting within her. It was a very personal thirty minutes of television, and while much of it was strange and much of it felt like a dream, there were aspects of it — of play-acting an affluent, happy adult life — that will resonate with some viewers (this one included) very deeply.
On the other hand, there were trademark aspects in Hannah’s conversation with Joshua that showed her as we’ve always known her. She considers him wanting to be called “Joshua” instead of “Josh” trivial, she can’t remember if his wife is in San Francisco or San Diego, she claims he doesn’t share anything with her, but instantly dismisses a homosexual incident when he was young and bowling over it because “well you let it happen, I didn’t have a choice” (after she had just acknowledged her entire incident might have been a lie). It’s realistic that two days spent with a stranger wouldn’t change Hannah for good (unfortunately), but as grating as I find her in general, I have to acknowledge that was a good moment. It was also the moment Joshua knew he had to get rid of this crazy chick.
I went into “One Man’s Trash” expecting to hate it, and I did at first (the whole prelude with Ray randomly going off on this man — maybe because Ray is sensitive about his own situation — was odd and felt so forced, so that Hannah could go and apologize to him). But as Hannah spent more time with Joshua and began to realize her own, deepest most secret desire was happiness, I really warmed up to it. Not least because of Richard Shepard‘s beautiful cinematography and directing (per usual, things look and sound a little better with Lena Dunham hands the directing and writing off to someone else).
It was a thoughtful episode, and one that I found to be the polar opposite of one of my most hated interludes, “Bad Friend,” which was also extremely self-indulgent and Hannah-centric. While that was fluff, there was actual growth here. Finally. It was refreshing.
Episode Rating: A-
Musings and Miscellanea:
— So that was five separate instances of Lena Dunham’s breasts in one episode. Five. Aside from her horrible romper outfit, I have to say though, given the tone of the episode it kinda worked, if you look at these thirty minutes as a French art house piece.
— But seriously, pack the breasts in. Seriously.
— A “sexit” really should mean people who leave an event to go have sex. It’s so obvious, and deserves to be a thing.
— “Get back to your fucking panda videos before I turn off the WiFi!” – Ray
— Well the coffee shop is called Grumpy’s …
— “Please don’t tell anyone this but, I want to be happy” – Hannah