Last night, Austinites braved relatively cold temperatures (perhaps not -15 degrees, like our fair friends to the north experienced, but it was cold to us) for a sneak preview of one of the more polarizing television comedies to emerge in the past few years: Girls.
Hosted by the ATX Television Festival and HBO, the satellite premiere here in town featured a live stream of the red carpet premiere in New York City screened in the comfy confines of Max’s Wine Dive. Attendees munched on tacos and candy before the lights dimmed and we were treated to the first two episodes of Season 3 of Lena Dunham’s creation, which debuts this Sunday, Jan. 12 on HBO. (But before I continue, quick word of advice: Pinot Grigio and Smarties do not pair well together. Bummer in my mouth, y’all).
Anyway: last we heard from Hannah (Dunham) and her clan of twenty-something ne’er-do-wells, the ladies’ crumbling personal foundations were on the mend.
Well, mostly. Marnie (Allison Williams) reconciled with her now much more financially successful and assertive ex-boyfriend, Charlie (Christopher Abbott). Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet) finally bailed on Ray’s (Alex Karpovsky) stalled coffee-shop-driven life. Hannah found herself in ex-boyfriend Adam’s arms mid-meltdown with a terrible haircut and a busted eardrum. And Jessa (Jemima Kirke) was nowhere to be found, natch, but why would we ever presume that she couldn’t take care of herself?
Fast-forward an indeterminate period of time to the beginning of Season 3. Here’s where you may want to check out in case you’re worried about possible spoilers, depending on how you define spoilers. We good? You okay?
Adam, once the pseudo-boyfriend we loved to hate, has transformed into a stable and healthy live-in partner. He’s supportive. He takes care of Hannah. He, like a significant other ought to, does things he doesn’t necessarily want to do because he knows it will make her happy.
Even when Adam and Hannah are confronted in a coffee shop by his spurned ex-girlfriend flanked by an angry friend (Amy Schumer), the odd couple’s reserved and apologetic responses run in tandem, two gears in the same clock. They’ve clicked. And the proof is in the pudding: her e-book deal, once the catalyst of a spectacular downward spiral, has also clicked, according to her now thrilled editor.
But as appreciative as Hannah is of Adam’s support, she doesn’t seem to want to make any sacrifices for him. “It’s liberating to say no to shit you hate!” she shouts at him as he jogs off from the car during a road trip to take a quick hike in the woods, a plan she nixes as she instead sits down in the leaves with her iPhone. Agreed, sure, but the “give” portion of their relationship’s give-and-take is frustratingly absent from Hannah’s still narcissistic tunnel vision.
Even her purportedly heroic efforts to rescue Jessa from rehab—yes, Jessa ended up in a rehab facility in some faraway mountain town, necessitating Hannah and her beau to rent a car to pick her up—still seem largely couched in self-aggrandizement, an effort to establish herself as “the best friend” rather than as a genuine attempt to reach out to a troubled comrade.
The more things change, the more things stay the same.
Nonetheless, even as Hannah remains blind to her self-centeredness, and even as Jessa continues to wreak havoc on her piecemeal social circles through her, um, provocativeness, and even as Shoshanna remains her weirdly naïve and obnoxious self, and even as Marnie deals with a fraught situation with being newly single (yep, sorry, no more Charlie), the ladies seem to have matured. Somehow.
Perhaps that’s a function of the show’s tighter writing. These episodes were surprisingly dense with jokes and one-liners that resonated with stereotypical touchstones of Millennial life. “Truth Or Dare teaches children how to behave like adults!” explains Hannah to Adam.
But they also shed light on characters reckoning with their own nascent adulthood in a newly pragmatic and grateful way. Appreciate school while you can, Hannah advises Shoshanna, because “your job is basically to be yourself.” Such luxuries aren’t necessarily to be found in the post-collegiate world of 9-to-5 alienated labor. Stop complaining about boredom, admonishes Adam in a Louis C.K.-esque moment of gruffness, because “boredom is bullshit” when you have an imagination. Don’t whine. Be grateful.
And if those words of wisdom are insufficient for you fellow youths, learn from Schumer’s sick burn when she finally catches a side-eyed glimpse of Hannah, the heinous witch for whom Adam left his girlfriend-slash-Amy’s-friend: “Did you leave in a rush?” That’s how you throw shade, y’all. Toss that one out during your next scuffle.
So, in a nutshell: things are okay! Sort of. Although I am no soothsayer, I can’t imagine that Hannah’s relative shit-togetherness will last long. Stay tuned for the crash and burn.