Tag Archives: Girls

In defense of change

Change is good.

Or so the old saying goes. I must have heard that one a thousand times, but the instance that sticks out most in my head is when an old colleague used it on me. I had just announced my plans to leave Teen People to take a job at Us Weekly, and I was feeling nervous about my decision. This particular colleague dropped by my office to wish me well, and I ended up unloading my misgivings on him.

He wasn’t a big fan of mine, and I knew he was glad to see me go. For him, any old cliché probably would have done if it ended our conversation as quickly and painlessly as possible. I’m pretty sure he pulled that one out of his ass. He probably had no idea what an impression he made.

He was right…sort of. Change can be good, and in this professional instance it was not only good — it was essential. But change can also be not-so-good. There’s a lot to be said for stability, predictability and the dreaded routine. Change for the sake of change only is often just a waste of time.

When I was younger, one of my relatives came to live with us for a while. One of my most vivid memories about him (among many vivid, unpleasant memories) was that he used to change undershirts several times a day. Every time I think of him, I also think of his white V-neck t-shirts flapping in the wind on the clothesline in the backyard like blank flags at half-mast.

As I can’t recall him ever doing anything more strenuous than thumping his Holy Bible, I had no idea why he needed to change his t-shirts so often. Maybe it was because my mother did all of the laundry, so why not? Change for the sake of change may have been good for him, but it was a burden for my mom. Though I’ve fully embraced change in my recent adulthood, I’ve remained suspicious and maybe even a little afraid of it too.

But now I’m beginning to see change in an entirely different light. Even when it’s not-so-good, or just for its own sake, it can end up having a net positive effect. Hannah Horvath on Girls would probably agree.

The fourth season of Girls won me over after a kind of hum-drum third season, and I think it was all because of change. There was so much of it. The biggest one: Hannah moved to Iowa (albeit briefly) to attend grad school, which set off a chain of unfortunate events for Hannah but fortunate ones for this viewer.

As a result of the stint in Iowa, she lost Adam, and upon her return, even more change was in store. She took a job as a substitute high-school teacher and her friends became a less prominent presence in her life. Hannah spent more time with Adam’s new girlfriend Mimi-Rose in episode 7 than she did with Marnie, Shoshanna and Jessa the entire season! If that wasn’t enough life upheaval, her father also came out as gay. That’s a lot of change for a 10-episode season.

(As an aside, I love the juxtaposition of her dad announcing he’s gay to her mother getting tenure, which, in academia, is the antithesis of change, as Loreen “I never have to move again” Horvath clearly realizes.)

The move to Iowa was one of the best developments that the series writer and star Lena Dunham has come up with yet. It took Hannah out of the orbit of her annoying New York circle, none of whom, with the exception of Adam and Shoshanna, I could possibly care less about. The Iowa episodes were some of my favorite ones of the season, partly because her New York crowd were barely in them. But most of all, I loved them because the change of scenery and Hannah’s ultimate failure in Iowa were the catalysts for the first signs of true emotional growth we’ve seen in her yet.

I don’t think she would have been able to be so supportive of her father and not make his coming out all about her without the Iowa experience. And look at how she remained in the background during the water-childbirth scenes, not grabbing center stage as old Hannah surely would have done. Had she not let go of so many illusions about herself, about her life, about life in general after Iowa, she probably would have taken Adam back in the season finale rather than seeing that they simply didn’t work anymore…if they ever actually did.

I’m thrilled that Hannah is starting to evolve, but I’m glad that she hasn’t completely changed her irritating ways. Her interaction with her student Cleo offered much-needed assurance that old-school Hannah is alive and well. Some might find her insufferable, but I love her despite her flaws…because of her flaws.

I get Hannah. Maybe it’s the writer in us. We’re a strange, complicated, contradictory breed. I hope friends and strangers don’t feel about me the way people do about Hannah, but I wouldn’t be too surprised to find out that some of them do. It’s not like I’ve never picked up and left everyone I cared about behind for far less clear-cut reasons than Hannah’s motivation for moving to Iowa.

I’m sure more big changes (some just for the sake of it) are in store for both Hannah and me. Maybe they’ll bring about continued evolution and make us more palatable to the people around us. Perhaps, as it did with Hannah, change will finally put me in the orbit of a guy who might actually be good for me and not just provide more fodder for my writing.

I like Mr. Parker. He’s cute and he totally nailed Hannah in just a couple of episodes. I’m curious to see where they go in season five. I love that he called her on her thirst for drama, but I hope she doesn’t bend like Carrie Bradshaw did with Aiden when she tried to give up smoking for him on Sex and the City. Hannah’s dramatic tendencies are a large part of what makes her and Girls interesting.

The last thing she (or I, a once-again thoroughly entertained viewer) needs is change in the form of a sexy new guy swooping in and altering Hannah or her maddening ways. I love them just the way they are.

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Why Ariana Grande Leaves Me Wanting More

Yesterday while I was listening to “The Way” by Ariana Grande featuring Mac Miller for about the fourth of a half dozen consecutive times, something dawned on me. Make that two things.

First, has there been a Top 10 Billboard Hot 100 hit in 2013 with a lower profile? Maybe it’s the fact that I’ve been living on the other side of the world, in lands far far away from the one whose collective musical taste is measured by Billboard’s pop singles chart. It’s entirely possible that back in the U.S.A., everyone is already sick to death of hearing about Ariana Grande, who was previously best known as a star on Broadway (in 13) and Nickelodeon (on Victorious, iCarly and Sam & Cat). But here in my world, although “The Way” recently hit No. 9 on the Hot 100, it feels like Grande has gotten relatively little play as budding pop princess.

Maybe it’s her timing: Grande’s recent pop breakthrough came just as three other former tween/teen-TV sensations of a certain age (20) — Demi Lovato, Miley Cyrus and Selena Gomez, who turned 21 two weeks ago — were scoring even bigger hits of their own with, respectively, “Heart Attack,” “We Can’t Stop” and “Come and Get It.” “The Way,” by the way, is the only one I wanted to hear again after listening to it for the first time.

Since then, the only places I’ve heard the song have been on my iPod and on YouTube. Meanwhile, Icona Pop’s “I Love It” continues to be the most overplayed hit of the moment worldwide (with the Pharrell-assisted “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke and “Get Lucky” by Daft Punk coming in a close second and second), and I’m still not sick of hearing it a billion spins later.

It might be a good thing that Grande doesn’t have that kind of overexposure because although I wanted to press repeat on “The Way” once more after listening to it six straight times yesterday, I’m not sure how I’d feel after hearing it over and over and over, on my iPod, on Girls, and on dance floors and TV commercials from Melbourne to Buenos Aires to Bangkok to Berlin to Warsaw — all places where “I Love It” has been so prominently featured over the course of the last six months.

My second realization during yesterday’s “The Way” listening spree was how much Grande reminds me of a young Mariah Carey — beautiful and demure, scaling multiple octaves and climbing into her whistle register with the precision and wild abandon of a vocal gymnast — only slightly saucier than Carey was at roughly the same age when “Vision of Love” became her debut hit.

With its turn-of-the-century R&B-pop sound (a piano riff and shuffle beat that wouldn’t have seemed so out of place on Mya’s 1998 eponymous debut), “The Way” is what Carey might have been doing about a decade into her career had she not been sidetracked by a mental crisis that coincided with a two-album lapse in sound musical judgement (2001’s Glitter and 2002’s Charmbracelet). It’s a refreshing departure from a female-driven contemporary pop sound that’s too often mired in overproduction and foolish beats. It’s also so ’90s (like Carey at the peak of her powers), which makes me feel young again, though still about a decade older than Grande.

Will Grande enjoy Carey-caliber staying power? We’ll have to wait until the September 3 release of Yours Truly, her debut album, to fairly assess her chances. I’d rather listen to “The Way” half a dozen times than “Baby I,” the set’s second single, but judging from its No. 21 debut this week on the Hot 100, and Grande’s confident negotiation of its jazz-inflected R&B terrain, I’d already say she has as good a shot as Icona Pop does at still being on everyone’s playlist in 2014. And it won’t be just with one song.

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Burning Questions: The Berlin Edition

What’s the point of carbonated water? Yesterday when I posed this question as my Facebook status update, a few of my friends offered some interesting suggestions on how to make fizzy water (which Jane Seymour once called the key to romantic living) more palatable. (I’ll have a shot of vodka to go with that!) Still, none of them explained why some people would prefer to drink straight carbonated water over good old agua sin gas. Maybe I’ve just never paid close enough attention when buying bottled water in other cities, but here in Berlin, the supermarket shelves seem to be as fully stocked with the bubbly stuff (mit Kohlensäure) as the still stuff (ohne Kohlensäure). Perhaps all those heavy meat dishes prepared in restaurants here leave people feeling particularly gassy and in desperate need of both relief and release.

Does my obsession with Greek and Roman sculpture make me not just a geek but a really strange and kind of pervy one, too? This was the running question-as-commentary that kept running through my head yesterday during my two hours at the Altes Museum. I was grinning with glee and feeling slightly overwhelmed as I gradually progressed through the two levels of ancient art on display, and easily could have spent a few more hours there had I not been overtaken by pangs of hunger.

The myriad representations of the unclothed ideal male form made me glad I’d spent an hour running around the Spree River in the morning. While I was staring at one of those ideal male forms, a nude and drunk Dionysus (my favorite male god, as he represents bacchanalia — a word derived from his Roman name, Bacchus) holding on to a satyr, I slipped into a fantasy in which the god of wine and I were skipping the wine and hitting the hard stuff — vodka and carbonated water — in his unholy domain on Mount Olympus.

As an art purist, I’m still not sure how I feel about how some of the sculptures were cobbled together — body from one century, head from another to suit prevailing tastes at the time. The arms of The Praying Boy (main photo), for instance, were added later, well after the completion of the rest of the statue, to reflect, one must presume, the era’s prevailing prayer pose (which, to me, looks more like rejoicing than praying). It’s art as pastiche, and studying the collection, I almost felt like I was walking through the sculptural equivalent of a sample-heavy hip-hop record.

Were the Greek, Roman and Etruscan masters exercising religious restraint or extreme modesty when sculpting the ideal nude male form? Maybe size didn’t really matter back then, but one would expect Apollo, of all Greek divinities, to be, if nothing else, well-endowed. At least that was the myth going through my head every time I stumbled upon yet another representation of his unclothed form.

Is it me, or does the guy on the left look like Ralph Fiennes circa Schindler’s List? It’s actually someone named Irwin Piscator, about whom I hope to find out more today when I check out “Diversity Destroyed: Berlin 1933-1938,” an exhibition that’s part of a 2013 city-wide recognition of the 80th anniversary of the Nazi takeover of Germany at the German Historical Museum. (That’s Marlene Dietrich underneath him.) I’m heading there as the second part of my 24-euro three-day museum pass that covers all of Museum Island — an actual island in the middle of the Spree River — and much more.

What is it about Icona Pop’s “I Love It” that transcends language, country and cultural barriers? It’s hopelessly high school, the kind of song I could imagine every girl in my graduating class singing along to every time it came on the radio had it been released circa 1984 to 1987. But unlike Madonna’s and Cyndi Lauper’s greatest hits from that period, I haven’t grown tired of it since the first time I heard it, on a Melbourne TV commercial just a few days before its inclusion in a January episode of Girls led to its U.S. ascent.

The single just became a U.K. No. 1 hit upon its release there, several months after it peaked in the U.S. (at No. 7 on Billboard’s Hot 100) and a full year after it made it big in Australia (reaching No. 3 on the ARIA singles chart), the first English-language country to fall for the charms of the Swedish duo. Yesterday I heard “I Love It” in a German commercial, which means that apart from plays on my iPod, I’ve heard the 14-month-old single in every country I’ve been in this year, except for the United Arab Emirates, which no doubt would have been blasting it, too, had it not been for Ramadan’s restrictions on music and dancing.

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One Thing You Should Never Do in the Middle of Sex

Yesterday I received a tear-stained message from Tobias, an acquaintance in Melbourne whom I’d never pegged as someone with a flair for melodrama. He’d barely batted a brown eye that one time I insulted his intelligence by telling him he had none, then turned on my heel and flounced off. My drunken outburst, though (and yes, I’m going to blame it on the a-a-a-a-a-alcohol), was nothing compared to what had recently gone down on the other side of the world.

just called my ex and he picked up while he was having sex so im abit pisssseedddddddd”

That’ll teach him to be careful whom he drunk dials.

When I tried to conjure a visual of a hot Australian guy in the throes of passion pausing to answer the phone, it was superimposed with a flashback to what was possibly the most disturbing scene in the entire six-year run of Sex and the City. (Yes, even more so than anything involving Carrie and the Russian!) In it, my girl Miranda called her own ex Skippy, who was in the middle of doing it with the girl to whom he’d just introduced Miranda after they bumped into each other on the street.

A brief conversation followed, after which Skippy promptly dumped his bedmate while still inside of her. On the scale of shitty human behavior during sex, this might trump what Adam did to Natalia on the penultimate Season 2 episode of Girls. I’m not sure which is more appalling: that Skippy didn’t have the decency to wait until after afterglow, or that he’d taken Miranda’s call at all. Was the sex with the rebound girl really so whatever that he couldn’t bear to ignore the ringing phone? Shouldn’t couples turn those damn things off before foreplay anyway?

I just don’t get it. What is this human obsession with taking every single phone call? Are people that afraid of missing something important if they let voice mail do its job — even in the wee hours of the morning, when any news is most likely bad news? And if you must look to see who’s calling, wouldn’t caller i.d. rule out any pressing medical emergencies?

I can handle answering the phone and reading text messages during a date — well, actually I can’t — but if I were on the side of the bed of Skippy’s girlfriend or the guy with Tobias’s ex, I’d definitely get out of it. If I’m not good enough to distract you from the ringing phone, you can get off under someone else.

Though the guy under (or over or beside) Tobias’s ex had a lot more to be angry about, I could understand Tobias’s ire, too. Talk about throwing “I’ve moved on” in somebody’s face. It’s safe to assume that the ex knew exactly who was calling, thanks to that aforementioned modern wonder known as caller i.d., and it’s even safer to surmise that it’s precisely why he answered the phone. And maybe I’m being a bit too conspiracy theorist here, but those grunts and moans he no doubt played up after picking up — or did he tell Tobias what he was doing, which would actually prove my point even more? — were no doubt for the benefit of the guy he probably used to call the love of his life.

I felt cheap just thinking about it. Suddenly the actions of my own ex, who once emailed me after seven months of silence just to let me know he was seeing someone new, didn’t seem so bad, after all. But I still think he’s kind of a jerk for disturbing my peace. When he called me three times in the middle of the night a few weeks later (and no, I wasn’t alone), I certainly didn’t answer the phone.

I wonder if he was the guy with Tobias’s ex. Unlikely, yes, but how poetically just would that be? I can’t think of two insensitive guys who deserve each other more.

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10 Great Songs That I First Heard While Watching TV

Remember the “Fire and Ice”-to-“Ice Ice Baby” Age (1981-1990), when MTV was the visual forum most likely to launch a pop hit? Those days are long long gone, the network’s increasingly non-musical programming in the ’90s and, more recently, the rise and rise of YouTube have seen to that.

For a while, movies filled the hit-making void left by the de-emphasis of the M in MTV, but film soundtracks are no longer nearly as bankable as they were in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90, when the ones to Saturday Night Fever, Dirty Dancing and The Bodyguard were among the biggest hit albums of their respective decades. In fact, a No. 1 single hasn’t won the Best Original Song Oscar since Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” 10 years ago, and had the Academy’s most recent anointee, Adele’s “Skyfall,” come out circa 1984, I have no doubt that it would have spent more than just a lone week in the Top 10 of Billboard’s Hot 100.

Perhaps Adele’s Bond theme would have fared better there had she performed it on Saturday Night Live, the TV show that sent her on her crash-collision course with megastardom after she appeared on it in 2008, six years after television started to really matter again in the creation of pop stars and pop hits. We can probably blame American Idol for upsetting the balance of pop power and shifting it back to TV for the first time since MTV ruled the ’80s. In the years after its 2002 debut, Idol has been perhaps the most dependable launching pad for pop and country stars/hits, of which Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood have been the biggest, and it also re-ignited Jennifer Lopez’s pop career after she performed her comeback-hit-to-be “On the Floor” on the show in 2011.

Across the Atlantic, Britain’s Got Talent turned its biggest loser Susan Boyle (who came in second in 2009) into a household name and a multi-platinum recording artist. Now Olly Murs, another 2009 runner-up (on Britain’s The X Factor), is boldly going where Girls Aloud and Cheryl Cole (the massive-in-the-UK British girl group discovered on Popstars: The Rivals in 2002 and its biggest member) have yet to go, up Billboard’s Hot 100, where he’s gone as high as No. 29 with “Troublemaker.”

Then, of course, there’s Glee, the now-waning one-time pop phenomenon that spawned platinum soundtrack albums and turned “Don’t Stop Believin,” Journey’s 1981 No. 9 single, into a hit all over again in 2009, via the Glee cover, which peaked at No. 4 in the U.S., No. 2 in the UK, and No. 5 in Australia. My 24-year-old Aussie ex once told me that he’d never even heard Journey’s original — which became a UK hit for the first time in 2010, reaching No. 6 — until Glee.

Though it’s been the most prominent non-reality TV hit maker in recently years, Glee hasn’t been the only one. Snow Patrol’s “Chasing Cars” owes its Top 5 status in the U.S. to its prominent placement in the 2006 season finale of Grey’s Anatomy. Two years later, M.I.A.’s “Paper Planes neatly underscored the changing of the pop guard from film to television after being featured in the trailer for the film Pineapple Express but not in the movie itself. Shortly after hitting TV airwaves through the trailer, the song began its ascent to No. 4 on the Hot 100.

Over in the world of commercials, where a Mitsubishi Eclipse ad helped make Dirty Vegas’s “Days Go By” a Top 20 hit 10 years ago, consumer goods and Seth Rogen/James Franco stoner comedies aren’t the only things being sold. Last year, Alex Clare ensured that he’d no longer be best known as Amy Winehouse’s ex after his 2011 flop single “Too Close” was resuscitated after appearing in an Internet Explorer 9 ad, climbing all the way to No. 7 on the Hot 100.

Now it’s Icona Pop’s turn. Their 2012 single “I Love It” began a steady upward chart trajectory after being featured on the January 27 episode of Girls, where I first heard it. I’ve since enjoyed it on dance floors from Melbourne, Australia, where it was a No. 3 hit last year, to Buenos Aires, Argentina. It now sits at No. 13, and will likely become 2013’s second Top 10 hit by a Swedish act (following Swedish House Mafia, whose “Don’t You Worry Child” recently reached No. 6) in a matter of weeks. (Sadly, mainstream U.S.A. continues to sleep on Robyn, Sweden’s second-best export after ABBA, and has been ever since she was briefly a break-out pop success with back-to-back Top 10 hits in 1997.)

Even when it’s not making hits, TV continues to be a dependable taste maker, introducing me to a number of great songs, some of which have taken up permanent residence on my iPod’s Most Played playlist. “Turn up the radio,” Madonna sang on a 2012 single. Turn up the TV (or whatever you use to watch your favorite shows) is more like it. Here are 10 of the best songs I may never have heard without it.

1. DB Boulevard “Point of View” (Sex and the City, August 11, 2002)

2. Chip Jenkins “All for Love” (Men In Trees, 2006-2008, Argentina’s Warner Channel ads)

3. Bryn Christopher “The Quest” (Grey’s Anatomy, May 22, 2008)

4. Temper Trap “Soldier On” (90210, November 10, 2009)

5. Pink “Glitter in the Air” (52nd Annual GRAMMY Awards, January 31, 2010)

6. Boy & Bear “Mexican Mavis” (90210, April 25, 2011)

7. Regina Spektor “All the Rowboats” (Ringer,  March 13, 2012)

8. Massive Attack featuring Hope Sandoval “Paradise Circus” (Revenge, November 4, 2012)

9. Lenny Williams “Cause I Love You” (performed by Vincent Powell on American Idol, February 28, 2013)

10. Tame Impala “Elephant” (Girls, March 17, 2013)

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Should Exes Get Back Together?

presidentabrahamlincolnmarytoddlincolnLately, the ex factor keeps messing with my mind. I’ve wondered if exes can be friends, pondered if exes should live together, and examined why sex is better with an ex. Now once again, I’m re-entering the ex-files to pose another all-important ex question: Should we ever even consider reuniting with one of ours?

There was a lot of that going on in the season finale of Girls (Marnie + Charlie, Hannah + Adam — again), but something (experience, hard earned?) tells me happily ever after isn’t part of the plan for either couple. A few lucky examples aside, it rarely is for exes on TV. And even Carrie and Big and Miranda and Steve had to break up and reunite a series of times on Sex and the City before they finally got it together and got to the altar.

While the process of coupling and uncoupling and coupling again (repeat one, two or three times) makes for great story on TV, in real life, you’re just likely to increase your battle scars. I recently watched a biography on Abraham Lincoln which revealed a few things I’d never known before. First, he despised his tyrannical, physically abusive father and refused to see him on his deathbed. (Who would have thought Lincoln could be so vengeful and hold such a powerful grudge?) Second, when U.S. President-to-be Lincoln and future First Lady Mary Todd were first dating, they got engaged, and when he got the proverbial cold feet, broke up. They spent 18 months apart before reuniting and finally marrying.

For those who didn’t glimpse those tense scenes from a marriage in Lincoln, by many historical accounts, the state of their union was often fairly miserable. It was one dead son, a Civil War and an assassination short of happily ever after. And that doesn’t even take into account what was going in the marriage, which, according to the documentary, may have been filled with spousal abuse inflicted upon Lincoln by his wife. This is the Lincoln story I want to see on screen! (Maybe Joaquin Phoenix can play him as a younger guy and get his Oscar.)

In contrast to the turbulent Lincoln marriage, future 26th President Theodore Roosevelt’s decision to marry his ex, Edith Carrow, after the death of his first wife, yielded far more blissful domestic results — or so claimed another Presidential documentary I recently watched.

My ex experiences are closer to that of the Lincolns — though without war, death and slapping. I recently reconnected with one, hoping that a year apart had changed us both enough that our relationship could evolve into something sturdier and more mature. Alas, it didn’t take me long to realize that it couldn’t, and I had to let him go once more. Unfortunately for us both, he hadn’t changed at all. In fact, he had become even more like he was before.

It was my second failed attempt at recapturing lost love. The previous time was nearly 10 years earlier, with an ex whom I had dated 10 years before that. On the surface, he had changed immensely. Formerly the life of every party, he’d morphed into a teetotaling zealot. While I applauded his health-consciousness, when it came right down to it, he’d traded one addiction (party favors) for another (self-righteous sobriety). Same guy, new drug. He had to go.

What did Luke Spencer say again? “People don’t change, they just get older.”

As much as I try to embrace the idea of moving forward, never looking back (after all, as yet another TV great, Vanessa Huxtable, once said, “The ship that sails backwards never sees the sun rise” — technically untrue, but I get her point), a part of me — the hopeless romantic — thinks the perfect love would actually be rediscovered love with an old flame. It’s a hyper-romantic dream, but trying to force it into reality can be like re-watching an old movie or re-reading an old book and expecting a different outcome at the end. If you’re lucky, you might enjoy the story even more the second time around, but the ending will still be the same.

Of course, if you resist the human urge to fall back into old patterns (which with both of my returnee exes, especially the second one, I did — new year, same relationship), together again, two exes can write a brand new story, one that might not be quite happily ever after but rather, to be continued. A perfect denouement might not be guaranteed, but the great scary thing about love and life outside of Bangkok massage parlors is that happy endings never are.

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The End Is the Beginning: Thoughts on the Second Season Finale of “Girls”

Right back to where we started from It’s interesting — or on second thought, maybe the exact opposite — that at the end of season two, all four Girls girls are pretty much where they were at the beginning of the series: Hannah is back with Adam; Marnie is together again with Charlie; Shoshanna is single; and Jessa is God knows where (which is from whence she had just returned when the show began).

But while revisiting the past need not mean complete regression, only two of our girls have moved forward in any significant way since then: Shoshanna, my overall favorite character after Charlie (the one person on the show who reminds me of actual people I’ve known in real life, ones with whom I’d go out of my way to spend quality time, thanks, in part, to the attractive package that is portrayer Christopher Abbott), and Jessa, my least favorite, have both evolved over the course of the first two seasons. They aren’t exactly who they were when we met them.

Shoshanna is no longer a virgin. She’s now had a boyfriend and an ex-boyfriend, and she’s learned how to hook up just for the fun of it. Jessa is a soon-to-be divorcee who had a breakthrough moment with her father (a second season highlight), though she’s still as self-involved as she was when we met her. There’s a lot of that, self-involvement, going on on Girls, but I was recently told — by a 20-year-old guy no less — that it’s just the way of twentysomethings.

Meanwhile, Marnie is safely re-ensconced in romantic convention with Charlie (apparently, with better sex, but why would she think she’d have brown babies with him?), which she will no doubt sabotage next season when she starts to overthink it again, and she decides that she wants more — again. And Hannah? Poor Hannah. She’s having some kind of breakdown which led her back to the arms — literally — of the guy whom she accused of being partly responsible for putting her in this mess she’s in.

Nice torso, Adam, but you’re not so Big! After the debacle of his sex scene with Natalia in the penultimate season-two episode, Adam redeemed himself a little with his loyalty to Hannah and his shirtless mad dash through New York City to get to her. But if writer/star Lena Dunham is trying to position him as Big to her Hannah’s Carrie Bradshaw, she’s way off. Big could be callous and insensitive (he was, after all, a guy), but he was never mean. I suspect he was better in bed, too. Even without the dog shit, in his finale round with Natalia, Adam’s sexual proclivities still troubled me: Why do so many guys think fast and furious is preferable to nice and slow?

I’m not sure why Natalia stuck around for more after the dog shit, but at least she returned to being clear about what she wanted. Adam, though, was obviously bored with her and had already checked out of their short relationship around the time he told her to get on all fours, probably sabotaging it because he doesn’t think he’s good enough for a normal woman (woman, not girl). I felt a little sorry for Natalia when he reunited with Hannah in the end (she deserves to do the dumping), but she’s so much better off without him — cliched consoling words that probably never boosted the spirits of any dumpee.

Am I Jessa? Yesterday, in defense of still-MIA Jessa, my best friend told me that I’m kind of like her — “the way you leave parties, the way you left this country…” — and she has a point. But I would never dream of inviting her on a trip with me to see my father, abandon her there without warning, and then let the radio silence continue for weeks, without even sending a forwarding address. I’d at least update my Facebook status to let her know where I am. But then Jessa is so the type to think Facebook is beneath her. The one upside to her being such a terrible friend? The last few episodes have been so much more enjoyable without her being in them to infuriate me.

I don’t mind Hannah as much as everyone else does. I believe the general consensus is that Hannah, not Jessa, is the most maddening character on Girls, but I don’t find her as unlikable as everyone else seems to. Maybe it’s the writer in me that can relate to some of her dilemma and her tendencies: how difficult it is to be motivated to write sometimes, how one can manipulate life for material, how it’s so easy to get trapped in your own mind, turning other people into mere characters in your latest chapter.

What I don’t understand is where this obsessive-compulsive disorder and mental illness came from. It seems to have arrived completely out of nowhere. My best friend suggested that it’s basically Dunham angling for an Emmy later this year. I think it’s a lot of that, and an easy way to get Adam back into her orbit. Those two probably belong together — sort of like Carrie and Big on Sex and the City — so I’m willing to go along with it. I’m actually more interested in seeing where they end up in season three than I was in seeing how Hannah got home from Coney Island at the end of last season, which was never explained, by the way.

Is that really how e-book publishing works? Is it as easy for an untested — and as far as I know, still unpublished — writer to “ink” a deal to produce an e-book and get a generous advance for agreeing to do it? Hannah made it seem like a cinch. James Cameron Mitchell is playing the hell out of her editor, though. I’ve written for people who act just like that, which makes me glad to not be doing it at the moment.

I’ll take Michael Penn wherever I can get him! I don’t do TV soundtracks — no, not even any of the Glee ones that used to be released on a seemingly weekly basis — but I might actually download the Girls soundtrack, which was released in January and features the new song by Michael Penn that appeared in the finale. The tunes that pop up in each episode are high points of the shows. If the finale felt a little anti-climactic overall, the inclusion of “Elephant” by Tame Impala was the one thing that left me wanting more. Alas, more Tame Impala, not necessarily more Girls.

The suspense isn’t killing me. As much as I appreciate the ability of each Girls episode to evoke a strong reaction and encourage conversation, I just can’t get into the core four the way I did/do the central quartets on Sex and the City, The Golden Girls, Desperate Housewives, Hot in Cleveland, Girlfriends, Living Single, or in Waiting to Exhale. Maybe it’s because I’m too far removed from my mid-20s to relate to their growing pains (when the Charlotte York/Rose Nylund stand-in is my favorite, we’ve got a problem), or maybe it’s because they now spend so little time together that it’s easy to forget they’re even friends, or maybe it’s because I’ve got too many other TV shows to occupy my time.

Whatever the reason, I’m not exactly dying to find out what happens next, which has been my biggest problem with Girls all along. Lena Dunham can write interesting characters, realistic dialogue and the occasional brilliant scene. I just wish they were wowing me in the context of more compelling stories. Maybe that’s where both she (and Hannah) can really learn something from Carrie Bradshaw (though, preferably, not a penchant for beginning sentences with “I couldn’t help but wonder” and “And just like that…”).

It’s so not a shame about Ray. What am I hoping for next season? More Charlie, Jessa in even smaller doses, and no Ray, who has always been too ill-defined and seems to exist solely to be denigrated, which might be why he’s so annoyingly snarky. (Since when does running a coffee shop indicate that one is devoid of ambition?) But even if Ray were more appealing, I would understand Shoshanna’s wariness of being with someone who is only about her. If ever there was a guy who needs to disappear after the break-up, never to be heard from again, it would be Ray. But exes always come back, don’t they? I just hope an unwanted pregnancy doesn’t leave Shoshanna — and us — stuck with this one.

 

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