With a title like “Wedding Day” kicking off the fifth season of HBO’s “Girls,” one might mistakenly draw the conclusion that this is an episode full of matrimonial bliss and happy beginnings. But as anyone who’s stuck with the show this long knows, that’s not how “Girls” operates.
As it turns out, Marnie and Desi decide to go through with their engagement (sort of) and tie the knot, although we don’t actually see them exchange vows in this episode. This is the point where Lena Dunham (show creator, star, producer and also writer/director of this episode) cues all the typical wedding clichés: bridezilla breakdowns, cold feet conundrums and ex-lover quandaries are revealed.
It’s an ideal milieu to reunite almost every major character this series has to offer, including a barely-on-screen Adam who has an awkward run-in with Hannah’s new brah Fran. Don’t worry if you barely remember Fran from last season where he played Hannah’s co-worker at a New York High School she subbed at for a while, neither does Desi. Fran is, for all intents and purposes, too normal for this bunch – an always rotating group of arrogant individuals with complicated associations who are in a perpetual state of being comfortably awkward around each other. Plus, he has a penis, as Marnie points out before kicking him out of the house. But it’s interesting to see these characters from Fran’s perspective – despite making appearances last season, still being an outsider who hasn’t quite acclimated into this group – enthralled, albeit a bit intimidated, by the dynamics and drama that’s ensuing, yet surely wondering why anyone would want to stick around for all the chaos (especially for five seasons!) It’s the question that separates “Girls” haters from the fans – the latter group members, who, if anything like me, ponder this question constantly.
Trying best to avoid Marnie’s passive-aggressive diva-ness during her wedding day, Fran meanders over to the boys’ cave, where he runs into Adam – laconic stuttering is the best these boys can do to compensate for how uncomfortable they are. And it only gets worse when Desi, the groom-to-be, decides his eighth engagement isn’t the charm and flees. An ambivalent Ray, unabashedly still in love with Marnie grills Fran about his intentions with Hannah, adding that men demand things from women then suck their spirit, not-so subtly letting on his anathema towards Desi.
With Desi MIA, Marnie’s makeup artist trying to find the right balance between a Selena Gomez and Jesus look, Ray battling with residual feelings for Marnie, unwelcomed rain and whatever is going on with Hannah’s dress, the wedding expectedly takes a turn for the worse. But ultimately, that’s not what this episode or the series in general is about. Although it’s fun to see these characters at their lowest point and egotistical worst, often lending to some of the best lines (“I’m garbage! I’m a garbage person!”), it often brings out the best in them.
In the midst of all the tears, excessive makeup and matrimonial details that have gone awry – the girls remain loyal to the cause of being there for one another. When times get rough, there’s always some type of easy fix and temporary panacea at play. Whether it’s Shoshana playing the mean girl to make Marnie comfortable while she gets ready, Jessa cleaning up after Bebe’s mess or Hannah reassuring Marnie that she’s making the right decision despite mixed feelings about Desi, the girls remember to be kind to one another when it matters.
So much of “Wedding Day” deals with the naiveté of happy beginnings, but it’s also about the ability to overcome the struggles of expectation when the idyllic ending doesn’t pan out.
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