GIRLS Recap: “Beach House”

     February 16, 2014


It was that time in the course of Girls, like most any show set in New York, where an episode takes a vacation to the Hamptons.  Or in this case, for those who think the Hamptons are tacky, North Fork.  The girls escape to a beach house on a weekend getaway designed by Marnie, although it quickly becomes a prison of insecurity and self-doubt. Hit the jump for why, “I can’t go in open water, unless I’m menstruating.”

girls-season-3-posterIn some ways, “Beach House” was a great Girls episode.  Its pacing and editing were partially for comedic value, sure, but it also was engrossing, carrying us along in its current, as the girls themselves floated from one beach-side activity to another.  What started in harmony also ended that way, in a sense, with a lot of chaos in between.  The girls have not been united almost at all for more than a season now, which they all acknowledge.  But Marnie’s desperate attempts to bring them together also brings out their worst.

Because all of the girls were in one place, “Beach House” had a great flow to it.  The reintroduction of Elijah and his friends livened up the proceedings in a way that illuminated everyone’s worst aspects, with their proximity and alcohol consumption magnifying their issues with each other.

But while visually things worked, much of the dialogue felt like it was trying too hard.  A great line like Marnie saying she is having the time of her life was ruined by the self-aware comment played straight about how they can now, “prove to everyone on Instagram that we can still have fun as a group.”  Shoshannah’s initially refreshing truth-telling about Hannah, that turned into a “fucking this, fucking that” spew-fest at everyone, went on for too long, and again felt too self-aware.  That’s not something Shoshannah would realistically say or do.  Instead, it was better when Elijah’s friends whispered comments about how insane the girls all were, or were just silently — but noticeably — repelled by them (like when Jessa jumped on one of them naked in the water).

girls-beach-house-zosia-mamet-danny-strongThe moments of truth about beach weekends, and the rawness of some of the emotions, were drowned out because the show continues to waffle between satire and a commitment to dramatic reality.  The satire drains the momentum from the real drama, just like those genuinely dramatic scenes zap the comedy from the jokes about how shallow these girls are.

The dance routine, in its three incarnations, was the highlight of the episode.  It also showed that the crux of things always comes back to pantomime.  You either get something personal out of that, or you feel like we are ultimately where we always are with them: as Shoshannah put it, “fucking whiney nothings.”  And that, really, is the show.

Episode Rating: B

Musings and Miscellanea:

— Again, I have no issue with Hannah being naked or mostly naked if it makes sense, which it did both in context and for her character during the beach weekend.

— At least we know what happened with Charlie now, plus the suggestion that it was all because he was really gay.

girls-beach-house-lena-dunham— “I can’t go in open water unless I’m menstruating” – Jessa.  The “unless” kills me.

— Has anyone else noticed how at least one scene per episode now feels cribbed from Wes Anderson‘s style book?  The cold open was the one this time.

— This season has been so screechy with arguments.

— Poor Elijah, he is willing to put up with almost anything so that he doesn’t have to work. It’s depressing.

— “Doesn’t Hannah remind you of crazy-ass Sadie?” “Sadie is fat as shit!”

— “That duck tasted like a used condom and I want to forget all about it” – Shoshannah.

— “I spent $80,000 on a theater BA, of course I’m talented!”