Girls Maturity Level Threat Watch: Episode 7


Jessa

It’s no wonder Jessa was so horrible to her ex-husband Thomas-John’s parents. She hates her own dad! She also loves him, but it’s painful, as they’re uncomfortably similar and he is, decidedly, quite a prick (albeit a very charismatic one). Jessa embellishes the story of her divorce to make herself sound like the victim, and you have no idea whether she thinks she’s being dishonest. Maybe she really does think she tried hard to be married to someone she randomly chose, and that she was robbed of the opportunity to really work on it. Her father’s interest in her life is purely superficial, and she knows it. Since they are beautiful, and seemingly rich (Jessa’s dad has no identifiable job, but lives in tony Putnam County in a large, raggedy country house), they can afford to burn bridges, since new ones always seem to spring up.

Jessa’s dad shows her the future that might be hers, too, if she keeps unconsciously emulating him, pursuing relationships she knows can never get too deep and fleeing at the first sign of real intimacy. Rather than open up about it to Hannah, Jessa withdraws further into herself. Just like Hannah claimed last week, Jessa’s depression makes her mean. Maybe it hurts too much to discuss how her dad reels her in with promises and then vanishes at the crucial moment every single time. She tells Hannah that nothing is nobler than inspiring a young man’s sexual awakening, and then acts disgusted when Hannah takes that to mean she should fuck Frank. Like her father, Jessa can be utterly convincing when she is the most full of shit. Jessa was just talking for talking’s sake, like she always does. It doesn’t have to matter so much what you say. All that matters is how you sound saying it.

Maturity Level: Mountain Dew

Hannah

Another “bottle episode” — but this one went down more smoothly, since it wasn’t so unexpectedly jarring. It had the same slower pacing and tone of pervasive dread as “One Man’s Trash.” From the moment Hannah arrived at the Manitou station, she never got comfortable. For Hannah, comfort is all about familiarity and routine. In a stranger’s place, nothing is recognizably hers. The towels are tiny and threadbare. She doesn’t know where stuff is. Everything is musty, camouflaged as cozy. Even Jessa seems different and unknowable. Without someone (anyone) to bounce her feelings off of, Hannah never knows what to make of them.

To synthesize her experiences into a traditional essay, she needs a narrative and a payoff, which she ends up regretfully drawing from Frank. I was totally surprised by Hannah’s disgust about ’70s bush! That seems way more like Shoshanna, who was shamed by Hannah for not knowing about butt plugs. Hannah is so all about being comfortable in her body and with sex, it’s weird that she’s so squeamish about pubic hair, but it fits in with her larger obsession with cleanliness. I like how many times this season it’s been noted that Marnie is extremely clean. A clean house is another one of those signifiers of adulthood that keeps popping up this season, as the girls shop for potential future lifestyles, learning that some adults live in filthy houses and neglect all their grown-up obligations while others have immaculate brownstones and mysterious noble adult careers.

Hannah suppresses freaking out too badly. She politely rejects the dead rabbit, politely demands that Jessa control the teenage boys from doing whip-its instead of blinding them while they drive, and politely has thigh-crease dry-hump sex with Frank in a graveyard to fulfill an imagined pact. She tries to thank her parents for being so functional, but they misinterpret her and both get annoyed. The characters inevitably fail to actually connect with each other, getting bogged down in language and miscommunication. What was intended to be genuine earnest expression becomes a garbled butt text.

Maturity Level: Bunny Bunny

Jessa’s Dad

Like Jessa, Jessa’s dad is a sexy wiseass who’s also an emotional bear trap. He tortures those who love him by alternating intense affection with denying them any attention at all. He’s constantly lying, then inveigling his way out of direct confrontation. He’s played by actor Ben Mendelsohn, a veteran of Australian indie films with recent worldwide exposure from playing John Daggett in The Dark Knight Rises. Jessa’s dad — whose first name is never revealed — is such a charming louse that you understand why Jessa keeps hoping he’ll really reach out to her. She wants to know him better, and is angry that he seemingly couldn’t care less. His appealing facade hides the fact that he can’t connect with other people and doesn’t really want to. He seems carefree, but is incredibly destructive to himself and others, leaving 5-year-old daughters named Lemon in the lurch and checking out of rehab with no intention to get well. He might even mean to pick up Jessa and Hannah when he says he will. He just never follows through.

Maturity Level: Penthouse

Frank

Frank and his subplot felt like something from a Todd Solondz world. Hannah’s attraction to young men struggling with their sexuality created further disastrous results. Frank fell right on that ugly/cute line that draws Hannah in like a bunny to a carrot. She fulfilled Petula’s prophecy that she would be a “cushion” for the weekend, but by cushioning Frank from thinking about whatever the hell he and Tyler have been doing or thinking of doing. Or maybe she was a cushion in that Frank could probably have gotten equally worked up by fucking the crevices of a couch. Hannah only seemed to think inducting Frank into manhood was a bad idea after it proved so unsatisfying for her. She was reminded that it really was a bad idea when Frank claimed she’d damaged him emotionally. She was just doing what she thought Jessa would do, but Jessa’s father had left her feeling disgusted by impulsivity and promiscuity. Plus Jessa was perceptive (or just knows her stepbrother) enough to recognize that Frank and Tyler are sexually experimenting or planning a murder together.

Maturity Level: Turtleneck

Tyler

Look, good-looking jock lacrosse dudes don’t just hang out with weirdo outcast nerd guys for no reason. If they did, the whole world would be a perfect Breakfast Club, and no one would ever have to go into comedy. I want to see a spinoff about Tyler and Frank.

Maturity Level: American Eagle

Petula

There are hints right away that something is off about Petula (Rosanna Arquette). For one, her name is pronounced “Petchula” and not “Petoola,” as in Clark. Petula looks and acts like your typical sun-kissed aging bimbo hippie chick, but something about her smile is dead. Her speech about the world being a video game sounded like a DMT rant about “machine elves.” Raising adorable rabbits and then slaughtering them for brunch, lunch, and dinner is either demented or how nature intended it, depending on how much salvia you’ve smoked.

Maturity Level: Red Octopus

Filed Under: Girls, Girls Talk, HBO, Lena Dunham

Photo on 2014-01-10 at 12.58 #3

Molly Lambert is a staff writer for Grantland.

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