Review: ‘Girls’ Disses Male Literary Power, While Undermining Its Own

One of the things that’s perplexing about “Girls” is how they get their money. In last week’s episode, Elijah shows up out of nowhere in Iowa, kind of like one of those baseball players coming to life via a cornfield in Field of Dreams. This week, he’s made friends, is going to coffee shops, is living it up. But with seemingly no means of income.

Money does not seem to be on the minds of the characters in “Girls,” except for Ray, who’s shown diligently doing the books in one of his few scenes in this episode. And one criticism of  season 4’s “Female Author” is that it deals with women being put down by men in literary terms (via Hannah’s snobby UofI workshop group) juxtaposed against these “real” female characters who are dependent on men for fun, sex, bail, and friendship.

The episode opens with Hannah Skyping  with Jessa, chatting about how she has so much free time to make brownies from scratch (using just a mix) and watch “The Torkelsons” marathon on Teen Nick. Hannah corrects Jessa when she asks about the Amish, citing that they’re Mennonites and they get pretty offended when you call them otherwise. Elijah and Jessa exchange displeasantries (“Still wearing that same sad kimono?”), before Hannah brings up the A word—Adam (she only brought it up because Jessa said something that started with the letter A and it made her think of him and apples). Jessa then shows her bare ass on screen, something that the Po-Po will get a glimpse at later in the episode.

Marnie Gets Peter Panned by Desi

Meanwhile, Marnie is still hung up on this thing with Desi, taking her grievances to Ray about why she’s not a mistress. “We text goodnight, I met his cousin, he puts his hand on my butt when we’re waiting in line at Starbucks, he makes me look him in the eye when he comes,” she rationalizes.

“You are 1000% the mistress,” says Ray. One of the many voices of reason in this episode, that comes from a male perspective, which is frustrating.

But then Ray suddenly titilates Marnie with one statement: “We’ve already established that he has one massive character flaw: He hasn’t chosen you.” She’s on top of him faster than Donald Glover’s fleeting appearance on this show (remember that?).

Later, Desi and Marnie are playing their lame jazz-brunch-rejected music for a label, and somehow, they go for it and want to get the big ball rolling when it comes to getting their name out there. But just one question first: “How long have you been together?” Desi awkwardly tells them that they’re not together, that he’s dating a consultant, but that they often get mistaken for being a couple. Marnie asks for a stray cigarette and Desi admonishes her, like an overprotective boyfriend/father, raising his eyebrows—and those of the record people in the room.

On their walk out of the meeting, Desi claims Marnie almost derailed the meeting with that cigarette comment. Finally, she just tells him that she can’t do the “intimacy” thing anymore.

“No one thinks about me at all,” she says. “In relationship to you.”

He tells her she needs to embrace her freedom and figure out what she really wants. She says the problem is she’s figured out what she really wants and he’s not offering it to her.

Shosh and The Interview

Shoshanna has her first job interview with Ann Taylor Loft and it goes incredibly well. The female interviewer even pretty-much offers her the job, until Shosh opens her big mouth.

“In my heart of hearts, I knew this was a trial interview.” Just a practice run until she could actually get in with companies she really wanted to work for. The interviewer is clearly pissed off, but Shosh thinks it went well, that they can be besties and get drinks and talk about boys afterward.

Pissed Off

At their AA meeting, Adam and Jessa discuss the H word. Adam and Hannah apparently agreed to only call each other once a month, and when he last talked to her, she just brought up stupid shit like donuts at the movie theaters (which doesn’t sound stupid at all, IMHO). Jessa made out with a fellow AA-er recently and now the devout Christian has replaced God with Jessa, making her his new crackpipe.

On their walk out of the meeting, Jessa discusses her sobriety birthday coming up, which may or may not involve laser tag. Adam says if she wants to celebrate it, he’ll do something with her. Then, Jessa asks “How have your nights been with whatsherface?” Is there a new girl in Adam’s life? Before we really get into those details, Jessa excuses herself so she can take a piss in the street—because she’s not waiting for a park or stepping into a restaurant. Almost immediately, the NYPD pulls up, spotting the bare ass audiences were treated to earlier in the episode, and writes a citation.

“Why don’t you write the city up for not having enough places for women to piss in?” Jessa says.

The African American cop hands her a pink slip, and she tears it up, prompting the cops to arrest her. When Adam thinks they’re hurting her, he gets arrested, too.

This is an interesting little scene, especially when it comes to all of the controversy and headlines with the NYPD lately. I’m not sure whether Lena Dunham was trying to make commentary on white privilege, but if she was, it doesn’t look like Jessa or Adam were going to get away with it. They were booked.

Later, Ray gets the call to come pick them up (“Both of you?”) and is pissed when he gets there.

“We don’t resist arrest when we’ve done something wrong,” he says. “And we sure as f*** don’t urinate on the sidewalk. You cretons owe me three grand.”

After Ray leaves, Jessa tells Adam she hates cops. He tells her she’s a bad influence.

“You’re an adult man,” she says. “I can’t be an influence.” This is such a weird statement for an episode that focuses on women not rising up and being an influence, whether it’s in relationships or graduate school.

Adam says he doesn’t have time for this; he doesn’t need any more friends. Jessa then begs him to be her friend.

BJ scenes and Fifty Shades

Hannah decides to head to that party that Elijah wanted her to go to, and she locks her bike up with at least three locks. She’s not going to lose that bad boy again (although where did she get the money to replace her bike? They’re not cheap).

Elijah appears to be almost like a guardian angel in this episode, assimilating her to this university’s particular culture. And no one seems to acknowledge him too much. He’s almost like a ghost.

“I don’t feel good. I think I have Mono.” – Hannah

“For the fifth time?” – Elijah

Hannah doesn’t want to be at the party because she’s going to encounter her writing group. Elijah tells her that no one likes what they do, and that when he quit dancing, he felt the biggest relief in the world.

Somehow, Hannah finds herself drinking and chatting with her workshop group, who are bitching about blogs that become books that become TV shows. Golden boy DeAugust says, “No one’s going to force you to watch Fault in Our Stars” (a joke that doesn’t even make sense, since FiOS was a book to a movie—no blog). This group sounds about as much fun as listening to Marnie bitch about Desi.

Hannah counters that the group is acting too old and rhetorically asks what the problem is with liking popular writing. She resents the fact that she wrote a story with a blow job in it and she was immediately labeled “Fifty Shades girl.” The men in the group counter that blow jobs are OK in stories with the right literary merit. DeAugust namechecks D.H. Lawrence, Henry Miller, and Philip Roth, among others—all of which have a penis.

What feels inauthentic here is that it suddenly just dawns on the women in this group that men have literary power over women. Have they really never thought about this before? Does it really take Hannah to bring this fact to light? DeAugust claims Hannah is starting to sound a little hysterical.

“Being pigeonholed isn’t fun,” she says. “And if you doubt me, you take a turn in the hot seat.” Then she proceeds to rip apart each and every member of the group (“You are a tragically hip Gaysian. [. . .] Your whole story was just a winky-eye emoji followed by a pink emoji”). She even takes down DeAugust, who doesn’t even have a criminal record despite writing about hard living on the streets.

When Hannah asks everyone to be honest with each other, they all grow quiet, and she quite unelegantly leaves (rolling backward on the couch).

“I think we just found our Lindsay Lohan,” says the goth chick. You know, for a group that hates popular culture, they sure do like to reference it a lot—even if it is a bit dated.

When Hannah goes to leave the party, her bike is gone—just her pink bike helmet is left. How does she get home? From the Amish Mennonites via one of their horse carriages. See, Hannah has made friends.

What did you think of “Female Author”? Did you find it weird that the voice of reason in a lot of these scenes are from the male perspective? Do you think Lena Dunham was trying to make a political statement with the NYPD? And finally, where are they getting their money to survive?


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