Last year, my favorite television block was HBO’s winter programming of Girls, Looking, and Togetherness. I thought both of the returning shows produced their best seasons and after a rocky start Togetherness gave us one of the best episodes in television with their season one finale. HBO cancelled Looking and I was left all year waiting for Girls and Togetherness to return. My excitement grew after listening to Lena Dunham’s new podcast and the Duplass’s string of recent film hits.
I loved the fourth season of Girls and as time goes by I think it rivals the first season as the standout of the entire series. A lot of people dismissed Dunham after she and her writing team didn’t know where to take her characters throughout season two and three. After listening to Dunham’s Women of the Hour podcast I get the sense that Dunham is now a lot more confident in what sort of message she wants to portray with her art, evident not only in season four but also the season five premiere. The relationships between Hannah and her friends have outgrown bickering and have evolved. Hannah and Marnie have forgiven each other, and we don’t have to watch them yell at each other. That doesn’t mean that they come across as a likable group to innocent bystanders though. One of my favorite moments from the premiere was the reaction of the hairdresser to witnessing the group at their worst. I often look at my friend group and wonder how we come across. I reveled in the idea that we could come across in the same way.
I was hesitant to embrace an episode centered on the wedding of Marnie and Desi. I have always found Marnie to be boring and have always hated Desi. After the season four finale, I was really hoping for Marnie and Ray to be together at the start of the season. I never thought I would find myself rooting for someone like Ray but watching him swim through a creek in his suit to receive retrieve his ex’s fiancé made him one of the more likable characters in the show. I’m also enjoying the relationship between Hannah and Fran (played by perennial boyfriend Jake Lacy). I don’t know if we would have seen her with a guy like this in the first few seasons, and I’m interested to see how it pans out (and most likely implode).
I don’t really have a strong sense on where the story lines will go throughout the final two seasons. After the premiere, I’m most excited to see what happens between Adam and Jessa. Their friendship at first surprised me throughout season four, but after taking a second look it makes a lot of sense. They’re also both characters who we’ve watched struggle with addiction. I look at both of them as deliciously manipulative but also oddly endearing. They have the most natural chemistry out of all the friendships in the show. The shocking kiss in the premiere made me excited for what will happen throughout the season even though I ultimately am just waiting for Hannah and Adam to get back together.
The friendship and chemistry between Jessa and Adam is just one example of the Girls writing team finally feeling confident in their understanding of who these characters are. The core relationship between the Hannah, Jessa, Marnie, and Shoshanna is at its strongest. Ray is finally becoming an interesting person (especially in his scene with Desi). My biggest sigh of relief is with the choice to successfully begin to mend the relationship with Hannah and Marnie.
I’ve always been a fan of Girls but last year I struggled with the premiere of HBO’s other thirty minute dramedy, Togetherness. Every time I was about to give up I was surprised with really interesting episodes. I loved the adult kickball episode, and I have already praised the finale as one of the best episodes of 2015 television. Throughout 2015 I embraced the show even more every time I accidentally watched a Duplass project (Tangerine, The Overnight). All of these elements helped me love the second season premiere. I’m invested in Michelle (Melanie Lynskey) and Tina (Amanda Peet) but less so the men in the ensemble, Brett (Mark Duplass) and Alex (Steve Zissis).
The second season is obviously gearing up to be all about the decisions Michelle and Tina made in season one. Tina is going to have to deal with pushing Alex away after spending the entire season deciding who to be with. Now he has a newfound confidence (because of her) but is too scared to be around her. Michelle has to deal with her guilt over her affair and is trying to decide if she tells Brett. She is obviously going to tell him. The only question is when. I’m hoping it’s sooner rather than later as I don’t have any interest in watching an entire season of her personal guilt.
I feel like I know exactly where the story lines on Togetherness are heading. While I love the actresses on the show, I’m not necessarily interested in the plot. On the other hand, Girls’ direction is more fluid. I’m excited to see these new relationships blossom. I’m excited to see more of Aidy Bryant. I’m rooting for both shows to succeed, but I’m not necessarily confident in Togetherness’s ability to be kept alive past its second season. Readers, what did you think of both premieres? Are you as excited for the rest of Girls as I am? Do you have any confidence in the staying power of Togetherness?