Girls Recap: Ep. 5 “Only Child”

Season 3 of Girls, thus far, appears to be making up for last season’s emotionally up-lifting, yet disappointingly banal ending. The show’s titular characters are, once again, facing tolling relationship hurdles, i.e., breakups, shallow hookups, paid visits from surprise siblings and death.

In last week’s episode, “Dead Inside”, Hannah (Lena Dunham) learned her book publisher, the flamboyant birthday-bash crasher David, has died (cue the artificial tears, pleas for undeserved condolences and one hilariously crass 9/11 joke). Without David, Hannah is left wondering how her e-book will come to fruition. Last season, she sold the rights to her memoir – a collection of 25 years of randomness, sexual escapades and painfully personal admissions.

Dunham has received criticism in the last few years since her series premiered on HBO for her character’s negative depiction of women; however, she deserves some acknowledgement for cultivating the show’s protagonist into a bit of an antihero. Hannah’s false admission of a fictional cousin dying to win the sympathy of boyfriend Adam (Adam Driver) in last week’s episode was pitiful. This week, she digs herself into a deeper selfish hole. “So, my book is dead?” she states before being, consequently, kicked out of the funeral by David’s widow.

But in this week’s episode (and perhaps it’s the title that alludes to it more than anything), audiences discover Hannah’s selfishness stems from childhood.  When she plays arbitrator during a fight between Adam and Adam’s sister Caroline (Gaby Hoffmann), she says “being an only child is extremely lonely. All I wanted as a kid was a sibling.” It doesn’t exonerate her from lack of remorse, but at least it gives audiences an idea of what goes on in her psyche.

Hannah eventually finds a book publishing company who will take her book and, to her surprise, want to publish it as a print novel. However, she soon discovers the deal she signed with David’s Mill Street Press owns the right to her memoir for three years.

Meanwhile, Marnie (Allison Williams) is still dealing with her break up with Charlie (Christopher Abbott). Although they reconciled and got back together last season, Abbott’s departure this season has Marnie riding the single’s bandwagon. In September, Abbott told the New York Times he left the show because he couldn’t relate to his character Charlie anymore.

Feeling the woes of heartbreak – and the sting of viral infamy – Marnie decides to lash out at her co-workers. But as a show of good spirit, she decides to pay Ray (Alex Karpovsky) a visit to apologize, albeit passive-aggressively, and ask him to bullet-point her faults. Ray, the deadpan, critical and always brazenly honest guy that he is, gives it to her, before literally giving to her.

Their conversation ends in antithetically spontaneous yet predictable sex, which robs the scene of a critical analysis of Marnie. However, it’s Ray’s words right before the shallow love-making that perhaps best sums up the show’s characters: “You’re a huge, fat fucking phony. But that being said, I still like you.”

While the girls on Girls continue to make reprehensible decisions, spew vitriolic remarks to those closest to them and act immaturely, there’s a draw there that continues to make them a premium-channel guilty pleasure to watch.

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