Every Sunday, the editors at Refinery29 sit down for a serious chat about the latest episode of HBO's Girls. This week, they're joined by Carlye Wisel, writer, compulsive overeater, and Marnie obsessive, who chronicles life's odd and embarrassing misadventures on her blog, Awkward City, Population 1.
Connie: You guys...parents! That, and what it means to be an adult.
Nathan: "And, right off the bat, I'm not sure if we have any real adult role models on the show, at least in terms of what I define an adult to be. Save for Hannah's parents, there's really a dearth of responsible people in this universe."
Annie: "Yeah, even Marnie's mom wants to be her 'friend.'"
Connie: "Maybe it's important to define what we think being an adult is, because that's the overarching goal, right? The arc of this show is about illustrating the transformation of 20-something children into secure adults?"
Nathan: "Well, to me, being an adult really is a mindset — it's about looking to yourself for guidance and reliance."
Carlye: "And having others feel like they can rely on you as well. You have to behave like you are not the center of the universe, and that there are things in life beyond your own comfort."
Nathan: "And it doesn't have all that much to do with age, either, as we've seen. Especially considering Jessa's dad."
Connie: "Personally speaking, I really enjoyed seeing Jessa’s background. Up until now, I felt like she was this family-less, roots-less individual who was just about as likely to be born into a hippie cult as she was an English estate. Were her father and home life what you guys had expected?"
Nathan: "Sort of... I had imagined her family to be more affluent, though. She seemed like such a spoiled little rich girl who’s able to travel and blow off her responsibilities whenever she feels like it. Maybe that's just the show playing with our expectations, but I didn't picture him as a almost-hoarder from Garrison, New York."
Carlye: "Yeah, but everything we learned about him explains a little bit more about why she does the things she does — why she's so nomadic. It always seemed easy breezy but it's actually because she's so familiar with abandonment."
Annie: "It could be that her mom has the money, though. And we still haven't met her. Homegirl has a massive Louis Vuitton suitcase."
Connie: "I wouldn’t be shocked if that thing was a Chinatown bag."
Carlye: "Or, probably more likely, a gift from Thomas John?"
Nathan: "But, going back for a minute, Jessa's dad really isn't any more mature than she is."
Connie: "But the give and take seems to be in equal measure. When he says that she's bailed on him the last six times, it really takes the teeth out of the things she’s blaming him for..."
Annie: "But who cares if Jessa is flaky? She's the kid. It's her dad's responsibility to be a father, obviously."
Carlye: "Do you think that their relationship is actually still an open wound, or is she just displacing her pain from the Thomas John breakup?"
Connie: "I had no clue that she would be that affected by her divorce."
Carlye: "I know! The line about the vows? How it's like he didn't even mean them?!"
Connie: "And the fact that he didn't want to work on their issues. That is a very adult, mature thing to say. Except that we didn't see them doing any of that, right? Are we supposed to take it at face value? Or is she lying?"
Nathan: "I assumed she was lying to make herself seem more mature than her father."
Annie: "I think she needed her dad to step in and take care of her. She's raw and hurt, and needed her dad in a real way."
Carlye: "And then he leaves her. Again."
Connie: "I think that's an important point, too — no matter how difficult a child you are, you deserve to have parents who are there for you. When she says 'You shouldn't have to rely on me because I’m the child,' that's the absolute truth."
Photo: Courtesy of HBO
Nathan: "Switching gears a bit, although this episode definitely wasn’t about Hannah, it was interesting to see how it set her up as an adult, or rather, a not-so-competant adult."
Connie: "Hannah interacts with Petula and Jessa's father (who doesn't have a name as far as I could tell) as well as she can, when they're making it pretty hard for anyone who's not part of their family to feel comfortable. I mean, they didn't clean the room first, they didn't cancel their plans, and...rabbit for every meal? I understand that Jessa's bailed on them before, but they're acting as immaturely as any of the 20-somethings."
Annie: "I've totally been in Hannah's shoes. Not eating rabbits, per se, but I dated this guy whose family had a diet that was entirely macrobiotic. Like, they had a macrobiotic chef even. When I was around them, I needed food! I would sneak out and get like snickers bars and hoard them. Quinoa (though delicious) is not breakfast, lunch, and dinner." Connie: "Neither is rabbit!"
Carlye: "Granted, I have the blood of a Jewish mother running through me, but I can't get over why Hannah wouldn't just pick up her iPhone and fix every problem she has. Drugstore meds, check. Food delivery, check. Googling a cab number to take you to the train, check. It's all so easy these days! Country or city, if you've got a phone, you hunt down cranberry juice and meds and take care of that business immediately."
Connie: "Truth. UTIs are nothing to joke about."
Carlye: "Side note — garlic?!?!?!"
Connie: "A whole clove, apparently. Lemme Google it real quick..."
Annie: "There's that period of time where you're like ‘Maybe it's not... maybe it's not... maybe its not.... ohhhh no.’"
Carlye: "That period of time is when you chug cranberry nectar and pray to the gods that things will end up in the clear. Her irresponsibility, especially with her lady business, both sexually and medically, is such a blatant sign that she's still just a kid too."
Connie: "...Ahh, turns out garlic IS effective! You can apparently make garlic tea."
Nathan: "Good to know!"
Carlye: "The only way I'm putting garlic in me is if the next thing going in is Ryan Gosling."
Annie: "Okay, moving on. What did you guys think of the bizarre college kids?"
Connie: "Frank? You mean Shy Ronnie!"
Annie: "SHY RONNIE. OMG. So creepy."
Caryle: "Frank is totally Shy Ronnie. Even the part where he says his first sexual partner was Rihanna!"
Connie: "And that sex scene with Hannah. I watched it three times just because i couldn't BELIEVE how awkwardly it went down."
Nathan: "I like when she pats him on the back for support. It's so pathetic and great."
Connie: "The only reason she even slept with him (can you even call that sex?) is because of what Jessa said when they were looking through Penthouse. When they were talking about how those women posing were doing something noble. You know, the whole ‘turning a boy into a man’ thing. And FINALLY she finds someone more emotionally stunted than she is. It's exactly what happened between her and Josh, except flip-flopped. It's obvious from how she handled the Frank situation that she's still got a looooong way to go before she grows up."
Nathan: "Do you think prematurely ejaculating in a graveyard helped that boy become a man?"
Carlye: "That homie should have walked out from that graveyard like a boss! It literally took him only the effort of exiting the vehicle to be able to fake-bang Hannah."
Nathan: "You have to be a really confused 19-year-old to not be impressed with yourself for that."
Carlye: "Still, I thought the most interesting part of the whole thing was the conversation back at the house the next morning. It's incredible how he looks like such a lamewad, when really, that's a conversation that's gone down the opposite way with about nine thousand girls, and is completely legitimate. It was a very interesting role reversal."
Connie: "But he made the first move, right?"
Connie: "Yeah, that makes it even more confusing, but when you’re just starting out like he is, sex can just be really confusing, especially when the other person is obviously not interested in you. But if we talk about Hannah's behavior, she definitely has used people for sex before. Laird, for example."
Annie: "Even Joshua."
Carlye: "Shit, Is Hannah a sexual predator?"
Nathan: "Um, I don't have an answer there, but I did want to ask: What did you guys make of the final scene — the conversation with Hannah and her parents?"
Connie: "First off, I LOVE seeing the mom with that kind of personality. In Freaks and Geeks, she was so unerringly sweet. Here, she is crabby and cranky, and is one of the few people who calls Hannah out on her bullshit."
Connie: "Well, this is one of the only times we see Hannah acknowledging her parents and showing some maturity about her situation...and she has to pee throughout the whole thing."
Carlye: "In the Wisel family, that's a sign of love."
Nathan: "I pee any time I give a compliment."
Connie: "Aaaand, that's enough for you Nathan. Until next week!"
What say you? What's your definition of an adult, and which character do you think will make it there first?
Photo: Courtesy of HBO/Jessica Miglio