After last week’s shambolic offering, I was still looking forward to this week’s Girls largely because of the title, “It’s a Shame About Ray.” “At last!” I thought, “less Hannah and more Shoshanna!” It was blessedly true, with a lot more Jessa thrown in as well, and a dash of Marnie. As irritating as the show can be, when it sticks to a theme (in this case, the idea or question of financially parasitic relationships) and shows real emotion (which came from a variety of sources — basically from everyone except Hannah), Girls finally lives up to the hype. Hit the jump for more on why “when I’m 30 I’m going to look like I’m 50, and I’m going to be fat, really fat like Nico, because I will be full of experiences!”
The show’s first season kicked off from the catalyst of Hannah being cut off from her parents’ money, and that idea snaked through much of the first season as the girls found jobs or lamented about the lack of them. That theme has taken — so far — most a backseat this season, with even Hannah able to hold down steady employment. Marnie, mostly, has been the only one to carry that continued torch of employment frustration, and therefore was the only one left out of the idea of relationship mooching.
Elijah’s arc made a point to note how his boyfriend paid for everything, but how Elijah felt that was kind of the deal since he was young and hot (like a trophy boyfriend). Strangely though, Thomas-John’s seemingly traditionalist parents judged Jessa for not having a job, when it seems like they would be more likely to accept her position as a housewife. Of course, Jessa is seen as little more than a bohemian gold digger to them. It’s worth noting though that her interest in art is utterly dismissed, yet in an apartment across town Audrey judges Marnie for being a restaurant hostess while she, Audrey, starts up a mustard company, because at least her endeavor is artistic and creative. If this really was Sex and the City, Carrie would have likely typed on her laptop early in the episode, “what, exactly, defines a relationship mooch?”
In the strangest and most affecting twist, Ray is revealed to be a 33 year old homeless man, dating a wealthy 21 year old in Shoshanna. I’m not sure I remember them mentioning either of their ages before, but if they did I forgot all about it. Shoshanna seems older and he seems younger, but despite how they might appear to actually work out well together emotionally, the idea that Shoshanna is shacked up with, and in love with, a man many years her senior who lives in his car is pretty strange from the outside.
There were a lot of really broad moments in “Shame About Ray,” from Jessa’s dinner conversation with Thomas-John’s parents (though their argument afterwards felt real), as well as Hannah’s dinner, where the conversation turned to buttplugs and continued on with Audrey accosting Marnie. Hannah painted herself as an even more of a loathsome character than ever as she falsely invited Marnie to the gathering then threw her under the bus, siding with Charlie and Audrey while Marnie composed herself.
Later, instead of trying to patch things up, Hannah put the burden on Charlie to decide which of them would stay, and then yelled at Marnie that she was a grown-up because she had made food. Yes Hannah is a grotesque parody, and as a side-character she is ok. But it’s why, when the focus shifts too much to her, we can’t take anything she does or feels seriously. She flipped again on Charlie later on by yelling at him for not giving Marnie her due, choosing the wrong side again because Charlie had just been shut down by Marnie (again).
All of Hannah’s mess aside, “Shame About Ray” was a strong episode in how it helped build up Jessa, and to lesser degree Shoshanna, as more complex characters than just comic relief. Jessa has had a strange and tumbleweed existence, and someone as “square” as Thomas-John might really be the best thing for her, if she could compromise. It reminds me a lot of the relationship at the end of Six Feet Under between the bohemian Claire and the average-Joe Ted, who she met at her hated office job where she discovered he liked Top 40 radio and going to bars in the mall. Still, sometimes a little stability on her part and a little spice on his can make things work. The same is probably not true though for Thomas-John and Jessa.
Episode Rating: A-
Musings and Miscellanea:
— Marnie is “seeing” Booth? As if. Show me those receipts. Marnie needs to be with someone like Charlie, and one day she’ll figure that out. Poor Charlie though, in the meantime.
— “The ewok in capri pants??” – Charlie
— I laughed out loud at Jessa lobbing out a breast and saying “and this is the good one.”
— So they took the puppies back to the pet store??
— Only $11,500 Jessa?
— “He was asking you to literally plug his butt, and you still had doubts about his homosexuality?” – Charlie
— Jessa is a much more tolerable kind of free-spirit than Audrey, who is way too much of a hipster parody.
— “I’m embarrassed when we walk down the street because you’re so average. I told my friends you were a test tube baby just to give you some edge” – Jessa
— Snotting in the water is so gross, yet people do it all the time in pools (spitting, too). Nasty!
— I really liked Marnie rooftop diatribe about her confusion with what to do with her life.
— Is Adam still in jail?