Every Sunday, the editors at Refinery29 sit down for a serious chat about the new episode of HBO's Girls. This week, they're joined by Elliot Aronow, writer for Playboy, Huffington Post, and R29.
Connie: Welcome, Elliot! Glad to have you with us today, as this show is definitely full of men talking about relationships, which I know is something you're well versed in.
Elliot: "Thanks for having me. Bring it on."
Nathan: "I saw this episode as Lena's deconstruction of the "bromance." First you think these guys are going to bond, and then everything sort of falls apart. It brings out the worst in both of them."
Elliot: "I also think dudes who are friendly with one another don't act that aggro toward one another, but since I guess they're on their first dude dates, it makes a little more sense. But really, 'make love?' Who says that?"
Nathan: "Seriously. I mean, women don't say that either, do they?"
Annie: "No way. Unless they are an R&B singer from the '90s, they definitely do not say that. I think this was probably Lena's worst episode as a writer. Some of these lines were so cheesy…I don't even know where to begin. 'What are you looking at? Your life's perfect.' Baaaah."
Connie: "I wonder if it's because Lena can't really figure out how it is guys talk to each other."
Nathan: "I think a larger issue is that these guys are just too strange. It's hard to think of them as regular peeps, so anything they do is pretty unpredictable."
Annie: "Agreed. they're not archetypes at all. It's not like everyone has a woodworking, psychopathic, dog-stealing ex in their back pocket."
Connie: "Which brings me to something that's been bothering me. Girls (and I'm talking about real-life girls) OBSESS Adam, and I have no clue why."
Annie: "Wait… girls think he's hot?"
Nathan: "Do they?"
Connie: "I have friends who will all go 'awww' when he says something that sounds even mildly endearing. If anyone else said it, it wouldn't elicit a peep.
Nathan: He doesn't empathize with people, he's always unnecessarily blunt, he doesn't even make regular eye contact…I feel like it sets him up in this way that when he does emote, it feels like a woman — Hannah or whomever — was able to change him. It feels monumental when it isn't, really."
Connie: "Yeah, I can see that. Plus, he's pretty manly."
Elliot: "I think a lot of girls, especially in Brooklyn, like a man's man. You know, beard, does woodcrafting, makes pickles, etc." [Ed Note: Good to know what qualifies as a man's man in Brooklyn, these days.]
Nathan: "Yeah, but he's only a man's man in-so-far as he makes things, and not even. What is he building? He just bangs on a table."
Annie: "Just you wait. The last episode of the season is going to reveal that he's masterminded the next Eames chair or something."
Connie: "I think Adam is just too bizarre to figure out. When they were together, I could completely understand why Ray did all the things he did, said the things he did, behaved the way he did…but with Adam, I always feel like I'm surprised, no matter what."
Nathan: "Ray is definitely more 'normal,' I guess. Your typical loser-ish guy in his 30s…"
Elliot: "The dude you get introduced to a party and then spend the rest of the evening avoiding."
Nathan: "Shoshanna's even begun to wise up to him. She's not the virgin anymore. He's just turning into the guy who took her virginity."
Connie: "Yeah, the only women he goes after are the one he knows won't ever work to really understand him — because even he knows he's a textbook loser."
Nathan: "There's not really more to understand. There's not much hidden depth to that character. He's a dick when you meet him, and he turns out to be a loser. It's pretty depressing."
Connie: "Totally. And just when he puts himself in a situation where he thinks he's hot stuff (getting asked to accompany Adam as 'back-up muscle,' going into Staten Island as a Brooklynite), that Webster Hall girl really hands it to him. When he tells Adam on the boat about the time he got asked to join a threesome and turned it down — which is perfectly unbelievable, and just the kind of story that he would tell — his point is basically that Staten Island girls are hot and really nice. He expects that they'll be as naive as Shoshanna, and instead, he gets his ass handed to him. Within two seconds, she hits every single insecurity he has."
Annie: "Cut to talking to a dog and then sobbing."
Nathan: "I'd watch a show about the Webster Hall girl."
Elliot: "What do you ladies think? Is this revenge for the way women have been cast for years? Part of Lena's agenda to turn the tables?"
Annie: "No, I think Ray exists somewhere. I think her point is to show guys that are losers just the way the girls are. Like Marnie, she is delusional. Hannah is a narcissist. Jessa is a mess. Ray is a loser. The flaws are pretty evenly handed out across genders."
Nathan: "He's like the anti-Paul Rudd."
Annie: "Yeah and Lena herself is the anti-Kate Hudson."
Photo: Courtesy of HBO/Jessica Miglio.
Annie: "You know what's interesting? That none of these people have any real power — or seem to really want it. Except for Booth. He wants all the power, but he hates it because he's essentially constructed a world of vapid morons in the process — in a way that really exists in NYC."
Nathan: "Yeah, I guess in that way it's pretty realistic."
Annie: "Was I the only one who saw it coming? Like I thought this was an epic case of dramatic irony where we all know Marnie is being delusional, and obviously he slept with Sujin, right?"
Elliot: "I mean, any dude who is butt naked in bed and lets his assistant walk in to talk is sort of a case to begin with. It makes sense she can't connect with his unreality."
Connie: "That scene was also pivotal, because it brought Marnie back to ground zero. She literally has nothing going for her at this point, except for a new dress."
Nathan: "So, as guys, we have two choices: Be a powerful asshole, or be an loser asshole?"
Nathan: "Maybe that's what NYC gives you? I hope not, though."
Connie: "Which one are you guys?"
Nathan: "Ha. I'm certainly on the passive side."
Elliot: "I'm a nice Jewish boy who loves punk rock."
Nathan: "An archetype we don't see nearly enough of."
Connie: "Just wait until episode 7."
Elliot: "Ladies, knowing Ray's faults, how could he be improved?"
Connie: "I was thinking that throughout the episode. You're 33, you're both scared that everyone knows you're a loser and also unwilling to improve yourself. Is there anything that can be done? Even when he's crying at the end, I didn't feel like he was feeling anything other than self-pity."
Nathan: "Yeah, is a guy like that totally hopeless?
Elliot: "I know plenty of dudes, myself included, who are like, 'I sorta suck, and I need to fix this.' But this guy expresses no desire to do things differently. And that's really sad."
Annie: "I almost hope they write Ray off. I'm not sure what he brings to the show other than an opportunity for more Shoshanna time, which is of course great."
Elliot: "Ladies, another question for you. If they wanted to show a greater variety of NYC male assholes, who's missing here?"
Connie: "Ooh, well, let's see. They already nailed finance bro."
Annie: "The guy who thinks mixology is an art?"
Connie: "There's the pickup artist. And the guy who thinks anything that's not about celebrities or fashion needs to be explained to you."
Nathan: "There hasn't been a DIY band asshole yet."
Connie: "The 'let me tell you about my startup' asshole."
Nathan: "Man, New York has so many assholes. I think what we can glean from this conversation is that single ladies have it really rough out there."
Connie: "Well I mean, we could flip this around and do it for women as well."
Nathan: "I think it's different. There are so many great girls in New York york who want to be in relationships — the fact that all these assholes are still getting laid is a depressing thought."
Elliot: "True, and it's setting a low bar, which is bad for everyone."
Did we miss any? Share your own favorite genres of NYC assholes — male or female — in the comments.
Photo: Courtesy of HBO/Jessica Miglio.