Does Girls Believe In Guy Friends?

Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
Is there such a thing as a “guy friend” on Girls? Take for instance, Ray. Who would have believed at the outset of season 1 that, by season 5, Ray would have hooked up with not one, but three of the show’s four central women? He took Shoshanna’s virginity. He hooked up with — and then fell in love with — Marnie. And now he has reluctantly received a blow job from Hannah.

In Sunday’s episode, Hannah breaks up with Fran in the most immature way possible. In fact, she is literally dressed like a baby, in a matching pajama set, when she does it. At a rest stop bathroom, she gets out of the "house car" they are using for a road trip and texts Fran that she wants him to leave. She then refuses to talk to him, instead choosing to run away. He chases her until finally he relents and drives off without her — as she requested.

Ray is the only person available — or willing — to come pick Hannah up, arriving in his swanky new coffee truck. “Ray, you’re the truest and most loving friend I’ve ever had,” Hannah declares. “Okay, that’s sad,” Ray responds. It is sad, and it’s probably an overstatement. But then Hannah decides to “say thank you” to her “friend” by performing fellatio on him. Ray is skeptical. “I don’t think this is good for our friendship,” he says. He eventually just gives in, and closes his eyes. This, obviously, is a bad idea. The truck swerves off the road and topples over.

There’s a lot to unpack here. Hannah has recently been relying on sex as currency. Last week, she flashed her vagina at her boss in order to get out of trouble at work. Now, she’s giving Ray a blow job to essentially repay him for rescuing her from the side of the road. When she asks Ray if she made the right decision in breaking up with Fran, he tells her to trust her instincts. Her instincts led her to put Ray’s penis in her mouth. The vagina incident was a power play in her mind, giving her the upper hand in a negotiation. With the blow job, she’s further infantilizing herself, assuming a submissive position. My colleague Elizabeth Kiefer suggests that Hannah might be having “some kind of mental breakdown,” which may very well be possible. She’s contending with the fraught relationship between her parents, her desire to flee from her relationship with Fran, and the news that Adam and Jessa are now together.

But there’s also something curious about the fact that, when a straight man with whom she has a platonic relationship comes to her aid, Hannah decides to add sex into the mix. Heterosexual men and women on Girls don’t really remain just friends. Marnie and Ray started having sex after she went to him for advice. Adam and Jessa’s friendship, born out of mutual sobriety, led to a relationship. Hell, even Elijah and Marnie attempted to sleep with one another — and Elijah is gay. And, yes, now even Hannah and Ray have had a sexual encounter, disastrous as it may have been. "It seemed inevitable that at some point Hannah and Ray would have some kind of sexual interaction," Lena Dunham explained in the "Inside the Episode" commentary. Was it, though? I certainly wouldn't have pegged them for a hookup.

Girls seems to be playing by the old When Harry Met Sally… rule, that “men and women can’t be friends because the sex part always gets in the way.” But on Girls, this mandate doesn’t lead to happy rom-com endings. The results of these trysts are usually broken connections and awkward situations. It's not like the woman-to-woman friendships on Girls are super healthy, but the show seems unconvinced that men and women who are at all close can remain sexually uninvolved. And that's the sad part.

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