Before mercury, my blood used to fill thermometers.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

I know enough to know you don't have to know anybody.

I am so honored by Kate Zambreno's mention of my Girls recaps and by beautiful things like this.

Girls Episode Six, "The Return"

My long-standing hope since first reading the titles of these episodes was to see Hannah go home in this one. Hannah does return to Michigan and her parents, who I was initially dreading the sight of as much as I was excited by the goodbye to Marnie in the first scene. I really think - at least my hopes were piqued by the complexity of last week's episode - that wonderful things can be done with Marnie. Through a girl like her so much can be explored about boundaries and performance and intimacy, all of which I want to see so badly. But if Marnie was a person - and she is so thoroughly blooded by the writing of the show, she is so real, as is everyone - if Marnie were real, I would not be able to deal with her.

Her parents were a discouraging part of the pilot, for me, and they kick things off with a squabble that I don't think was honestly necessary to propel Hannah into HER CHILDHOOD ROOM. Holy shit! I am overwhelmed by the bedrooms of some people. I have to craft my own bedroom into my primary space. I am a very able one-room-dweller. I make use of my living room and prefer to take appointments there, but I'm never there alone. My room is my nexus. And I am stunned by people who make of their space a little battalion of reasons to look around and leave. This is entirely subjective, this observation, but that's how I read Hannah's room and it makes a great deal of sense. I once knew someone who, when we would spend time at his house, would dread being bumped out of the living room and forced into his own room because he hated it there. This belied so many problems anyway, but this really shocked me. Some intangible quality - its familiarity with rooms that I have known - cries boredom so resoundingly. This made an outsized impression on me. I admired the dressing of that set way more than the Greenpoint apartment, which has been glimpsed ultimately so little and not in the clinical way Hannah takes in her other surroundings - the doctor's office, her ex-employer's - and I am looking forward to something that contrasts disgustingly with the wallpapered kitchen cabinets that were definitely Marnie's idea. I want to see, in the words of Ray, where Hannah keeps her chocolate. I bet it's turned.

Hannah binge eats mightily. I'm really amazed by this behavior - in people in general, not just in Hannah. Filed away among all my other wishes is for disordered eating to be engaged in a way that isn't ridiculous and after-school-special-esque, consuming other plots or the complexity of the characters. In college I worked on a paper about the ways in which the female voice is undermined by popular perception of the female point of view, and while I worked on it my roommate watched In Treatment. During the first season, a young girl - a gymnast - who is being treated for problems I don't remember, divulges some anorectic tendencies to her therapist but dismisses a legitimate discussion of them by declaring it "a girl thing." I think Lena Dunham could make a great case for that being a human thing and not a quirk of the double-x.

Hannah drops in on a high school friend who gives me the absolute shivers. She tells Hannah the sad, sordid tale of a friend named Carrie who vanished and likely died in a Natalie Holloway situation. Mutual friends of theirs left Carrie at the beach when she stopped answering her phone. "We are not going to hang around and wait to clean up her dirty underwear," is how they justified it and how the friend relates it to Hannah, in an eerie little parallel to Hannah's arrival when her dad accidentally drops her laundry all over the parking lot of the airport. This girl is a nightmare of superficial achievements, who leaps at the chance to "honor" the memory of a dead peer as a means of demonstrating what a good girl she is. This was enough to freak me out, but it escalates horrifically later.

Hannah flirts successfully with a pharmacist. I was endeared by the difficulty he experienced in the flirting through which he nevertheless persevered in order to ask her to the benefit for Carrie's memory. As I type it, although I've seen it spelled otherwise, I am delighted by the idea of the "death of Carrie" as it relates to Sex and the City, in this tiny slip of a way. Hannah's date conflicts with her parents' plan for the weekend, and the clarity with which Hannah explains how and why she needs this date comes across as a real epiphany - but that reminded me of how she spoke to Marnie at the beginning of the episode. Marnie asks Hannah if she's going to tell her parents how she lost her job, and Hannah protests that she lost nothing, she gave her job away because she refused to abide the breast-massages. This is not the precise truth, and neither is her crystalline observation that she is being warped by her involvement with Adam and she needs some exposure to a nice young man before she has no ideas what qualities to look for in a partner.

Hannah gives herself a pep talk before the date that just annihilated me. "The worst stuff that you say sounds better than the best stuff that other people say."

At the benefit for Carrie, Hannah's friend performs a desperately appalling and disrespectful "tribute" dance to some nightmare to the tune of "Pretty Girl Rock." It is so blandly faux-sexual and uncomfortable. No amount of viewings could lessen the impact of its grossness. I love that this is the only thing going on and how it signifies the lack of culture in the midwest - this resembles everything that everyone has seen, so nobody recognizes how basely wrong it is. Hannah is massively thrown off by this and gets gloriously tongue-tied in an exchange about legitimate jobs, how "writing" is her "real job in New York." When the pharmacist asks her, "is that how you make money?" she nearly yells "I HAVE NO MONEY." I just rewatched Tiny Furniture and I am more amped than ever to see Dunham navigate art-making and Twitter and money and legitimacy.

Her dad's Woody Allen impression opens a dialogue between he and Hannah's mom about their sincere concerns for Hannah, about what she knows how to do, and her mother defends her, which is good to see. The way her mom identifies with her is small and sweet and I love how it is expressed in this scene, which aptly segues into Hannah and the pharmacist going to bed. In response to a "no pressure" disclaimer, she says "I like pressure." She attempts to initiate some Kid-tested, Adam-approved banter and it is a testament to the pharmacist's wont to get laid that he endures a finger in the ass and "I'm tight like a baby, right?" which he deserves for gleaning any enjoyment from the Pussycat Dolls/Natalee Holloway mashup.

When Hannah gets out of the pharmacist's car to walk back to her front door, it really hit me so profoundly: all the listlessness, in and out of cars, the trees, the solitude, the isolation, the feeling of waiting and the dread of leaving people to go be totally alone. The solitude that makes way for horrible things in Twin Peaks. David Lynch's assessment that a suburban house is "a place for things to go wrong." Not to say that anything is implied, for me it is just so present in that scene.

Her parents have some wonderfully hazardous sex. Her mom calls out the inadequacies of the pharmacist and makes other telling remarks that Hannah is very loved and very known by her parents, which gently justifies the opening squabble when Hannah rejects their assessment of her mood because they don't know what's going on with her. Because her mother is proud of her, Hannah declines to discuss money issues and keeps the loss of her job a secret. "That's my scrappy little girl."

Adam calls her. I think I would be excited to get a call from Adam if I was in Hannah's room, it is so lonely. In their conversation, Hannah observes how cheap it is to be there in Michigan, how the pharmacist has a mammoth apartment, and how strange it is so many people jockey for spots in New York when things are so financially bleak, when people who are becoming are not wanted. "Why doesn't everybody move out here and start the revolution?"  I guess it is right that an episode that takes place in her childhood home should call out so much to the future. Touching upon it is one thing, but I would be truly staggered if the whole show at one point fractured into the titular ones falling where they may, where they manage best, and deal with - in a way beyond Marnie's lip-service to Rent - why New York remains a big deal, what "remaining" has to do with it, and the differences between the place it was for young artists in the seventies, when Laurie Simmons arrived there, and the place it is now.

The episode ends with Fleet Foxes, at which point I closed the window where the video was playing because I got Helplessness Blues for my birthday last year and listened to it in its entirety at 4 am on a train to New York all funded by the first money I'd ever earned myself and I cannot share it yet because I am still in my tender becoming.

1 comment:

  1. " cannot share it yet because I am still in my tender becoming."

    such a beautiful line!