by Jeremy Grossman
“Welcome to Bushwick (a.k.a. The Crackcident)” had great acting, some amazing one-liners, and was made up of incredibly well-made scenes. I am definitely on my way to enjoying whatever it is that this show has to offer. And yet, “Girls” still has kinks it needs to work out–but at least we’re onto something.
The problem is that I still don’t have any affection for these characters. Of course, there’s no rule that a TV show needs to have lovable characters–right before “Girls,” in fact, is “Veep,” which takes pride in its characters’ excessive unlikability. But when I watch “Girls,” I enjoy it the same way I enjoy a recurring character on “Saturday Night Live.” They’re funny, and they get into some hilarious situations, but at the end of the day, I don’t care about them the same way I do about the characters on a “real show.”
If we had any affection for these characters, “Bushwick” would have been a perfect episode, but instead, we had to settle for just “fun,” and maybe that’s okay for now. In “Bushwick,” we follow the girls as they go to Bushwick for the “best party ever–everyone in Brooklyn and 2/3 of Manhattan is going to be there.” And that really doesn’t seem like an exaggeration, as almost every single character who has been on the show up to this point manages to make an appearance.
Let’s start with Marnie’s storyline. Marnie is miffed, but perhaps subconsciously excited, that ex-boyfriend Charlie is going to be performing with his band at the party. She goes to say hi to him, and after an awkward conversation, discovers that he now has a girlfriend. Her extreme jealousy leads her to whine and complain to anyone she can find–finally with Hannah’s ex-boyfriend Elijah, who happens to be at the party, too.
The conversation between Marnie and Elijah–in which they both end up arguing about who is the most “selfish”–was an entertaining, but complicated scene. There was a lot of subtext bubbling beneath their catfight, and it probably would’ve been more effective if we knew Marnie’s character a little bit better.
We learn that Marnie is terrified of being accused of “selfish,” but considering that we don’t know much of anything about Marnie at all, and all of her storylines up to now have been about her relationship with Charlie, it’s hard to care about anything going on in her head. But still, my curiosity is piqued. We learn that Marnie and Elijah once kissed behind Hannah’s back, and perhaps Marnie’s guilt can explain why she didn’t get mad at Hannah for intruding over her own relationship.
And then there’s Jessa, whose performance by Jemima Kirke in this episode was probably the best acting I’ve ever seen on this show. Kirke plays her character with such sexy, campy wit, and the black dress she wore to the party in which she looked like an evil witch only added to the charm. But I think “Bushwick” gave Jessa’s character some much needed depth, in which she was required to act like an adult and make some difficult decisions. After unknowingly inviting her employer, Jeff, to the party, Jessa childishly engulfs in a series of awful misadventures, in which he ends up being beaten to a pulp by a man who looks like Charles Manson.
Then, in the hospital, Jeff invites Jessa to come back to his apartment with him, as his wife and kids aren’t home. But Jessa won’t go back with him, leading Jeff to call her “a tease.” And a tease, she most definitely is. Jessa’s entire relationship with Jeff has been a tightrope of her two personalities–the much more subdued personality, in which Jessa enjoys taking care of Jeff’s kids and being an honorable role model, and the much more active personality, in which she lives a life of sex and partying, and sleeps with any man she can get her hands on. By ultimately choosing not to hook up with Jeff, it seems that Jessa is finally growing up, but in the process, led to Jeff’s heart being played with like a cat playing around with a dead bird.
Shoshanna, meanwhile, continues to be treated as the comic relief goofball character, who has hardly had any continuing storyline of her own. In fact, the girls didn’t even invite Shoshanna to the party with them (I wonder how long it will take before she officially becomes a part of their “group?”). But Shoshanna goes to the party anyway, and accidentally takes crack, and freaks out, and runs throughout the streets as Charlie’s friend Ray desperately tries to stop her. This entire plotline was supposed to be funny, but it came off as mere filler to me. Shoshanna is a great, unique character, and she deserves more profound material. Ray, however, is a complete bore, and the sooner that “Girls” can move on from any melodrama involving Ray and Charlie, the better.
Finally, there’s Hannah, who does what she does every episode–find something to complain about to Adam. Adam is at the party too, and this is the first time that Hannah has ever seen him outside of his apartment (and with a shirt on!). Hannah meets Adam’s friend Tako, who tells her that Adam is a recovering alcoholic. This bit of information shocks and astounds Hannah, who is angry that he never bothered to fill her in on such an important aspect of his life. But as Adam hollers at her, “You don’t want to know me. You want to come over in the night and have me fuck the dog shit out of you and then you want to leave and write about it in your diary.”
It seems like we burn through this plotline in literally every single episode of “Girls,” where Hannah debates over whether she sees Adam as a boyfriend or as a friend with benefits. But now, I think by the end of the episode, Hannah finally has her answer, as she sits in a taxi cab, with a huge smile on her face. Adam is on her left side, Marnie is on her right side. Her boyfriend and her best friend, side by side. This is what she’s always wanted. Well, probably.
And so, “Bushwick” ends with the girls headed in new directions, which each one of them delving into a new facet of their life. Hannah is now officialy in a relationship with Adam. Marnie is forced to admit to herself that she’s selfish. Jessa realizes that sleeping around is not always the answer. And Shoshanna takes crack for the first time.
It’s all so entertaining, and yet I know I’ll enjoy this episode even more once “Girls” finally makes me fully invested in these characters, like the way you’re supposed to care about television characters. But at the very least, the show is doing a great job with its memorable quotes–”Are you one of those Real Housewives?” “You sound like a schoolteacher.” “You are a sociopath.” “You crusty sacks of shit!” “I don’t think you’re cool and I think your mother was poor.” “Enjoy going through life as yourself.”
Jeremy Grossman is entertainment editor. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.