by Jeremy Grossman
When “Girls” premiered and was blasted by controversy, one of its many criticisms was how the show’s title implied it was about all girls, when in reality it only represented white, hipster, Brooklyn-girls. At this point, I’m starting to agree that it may have been a mistake to name the show “Girls.” Our protagonist, Hannah, most certainly does not represent all girls—she is a seriously disturbed girl, whose problems dig deeper than just being “broke and jobless.”
“Hard Being Easy” confirms that Hannah needs psychological help, because all of her problems in the episode result from her own sociopathic tendencies. First, she shows no empathy after destroying Marnie and Charlie’s relationship. True, their relationship was already on the rocks, and Charlie shouldn’t have been reading Hannah’s “notebook” in the first place, but Hannah’s complete disregard of her best friend’s problems was outstandingly childish. Hannah is an awful friend, and Marnie is too nice to her.
Next, in what is absolutely the show’s most ill conceived scene so far, Hannah tries to convince her boss who has been sexually harassing her to have sex with her. Look, there’s no rule that protagonists have to be perfect, but this entire plotline makes Hannah look like a sad, pathetic woman who is desperate for sex. And when her boss refuses to have sex with her, she quits her job? Where is the logic in this storyline? Hannah was so desperate for a job only a few episodes ago, and now she quits after being mad that her boss won’t have sex with her. Her boss who has been sexually harassing her.
Then Hannah heads to her “boyfriend” Adam’s home, where he masturbates in front of her as she watches. Hannah then realizes that the sexual empowerment that failed with her boss can be used on Adam—he is so engulfed in his masturbating that she is able to steal $100 from his drawer without him being able to do anything about it.
Ever since last week’s episode, Hannah’s character has been heading into a strange, ugly turbine of nonsense. I would account this to poor writing, but one scene in “Hard Being Easy” makes me think otherwise—the scene where Hannah goes into Adam’s bathroom and starts crying. It’s such a brief, subtle moment, as Hannah finally realizes how much her life has fallen apart. She destroyed her best friend’s relationship, she embarrassed herself in front of her boss, she no longer has a job, and her boyfriend is an emotionless jerk.
It’s this one moment that makes me forgive Hannah’s character for being such a pathetic waste of a protagonist—she is a deeply troubled person who has lost control of her entire life. This mere factor is what keeps “Girls” from turning into a joke, because otherwise, it comes off as an eighth grade boy’s screenplay about “sex and stuff.” “Girls” is truly a show about this young woman’s spiral into insanity, with Brooklyn as a mere backdrop.
But then, perhaps, this show shouldn’t be called “Girls.” It is not about girls—it is about Hannah. Most girls are not like Hannah. Most girls do not ask their bosses to have sex with them and then quit their jobs after he says no.
Marnie and Jessa, meanwhile, take on less outlandish plotlines. Marnie tries to make-up with Charlie, and heads to his apartment for the first time to apologize (she’s never been to her boyfriend’s apartment before?). They end up breaking up, which is a shame, because Charlie was a good guy driven mad by Marnie’s terrible friend.
Jessa meets up with an ex-boyfriend who is now engaged, and even though the two promise not to have sex, they end up having quick anal sex in Jessa’s apartment, while Shoshanna watches in shock (Zosia Mamet doesn’t utter a single word in the entire episode). The sky is still blue, the grass is still green, and Jessa is still promiscuous. Got it.
“Hard Being Easy” is a strange half-hour of television, that is either very good—depending on whether the show continues to explore Hannah’s troubled psyche—or utter trash—depending on if Hannah’s entire character is played out as one big mess of a joke. The show is called “Girls,” but as “Hard Being Easy” proves, there is something much deeper and uglier going on than a mere show about four girls trying to make it in the Big Apple. At least that’s what I think, anyway.
Jeremy Grossman is entertainment editor. Email him at email@example.com.