Once when I was a teenager watching Friends, my mom said, “I don’t want you to think that’s what being in your 20s is like.” While I assumed she was referring to the fact that actual friend groups were more diverse and real apartments rented by people with menial jobs were much (much, much) smaller, when I asked further, she explained: “Everyone’s not just sleeping with each other all the time.” I still don’t really know what that meant. I do know that people tend to think everyone else is having a lot more sex than they are. And that the odds of having a daylong, one-night stand with a Patrick Wilson–looking guy with a huge brownstone apartment who will flatter and cajole you into hanging out so he can bang you against a ping-pong table and then let you recover in his experience shower are … not good. Don’t hold your breath for that. You’ll die.
Grantland’s David Cho informs me that this was a “bottle episode,” which is a show that only uses some of the full cast or is severely limited in locational scope (in this case both), like Season 1’s Hannah-focused “The Return.” Hannah’s encounter in “One Man’s Trash” with Joshua the recently separated doctor had a dreamy quality that felt like Twin Peaks, the “Don Draper has a fever dream” episode from the latest season of Mad Men, and the Louie ep in which he fantasizes about being able to afford a huge place.
Everything in Joshua’s place was big: his sauna shower, his verdant backyard balcony. An apartment like that is the major motivation keeping a broke, clueless twentysomething with big aspirations like Hannah from shriveling up like a gummy worm. To Hannah, it was proof that the world contains what she considers real adult men: guys with high-status jobs and well-practiced sexual techniques. To an outside observer, Joshua seemed too perfect and blank to possibly exist, which meant something was going to go horribly wrong. The twist was that nothing bad happened. Hannah’s fantasy played out exactly the way she would have wanted it to. Not only was Josh perfectly compliant with her request that they focus on her pleasure rather than his, he left this stranger in his house to have plenty of time to spread out on every surface available and poke through everything. She treated his home like a hotel, and, for unexplained reasons, Joshua didn’t mind. Joshua ultimately couldn’t comfort Hannah the way she needed, which is logical because he’s a human being and not a selfless, affectionate, omnipotent Christ dad figure. Someone else needs to tell Hannah that nothing is broken inside of her. She’s just watching too much porn.
Maturity Level: Backspin
For the entire history of Hollywood, men in positions of power have been discussing what actresses they’d like to have sex with and then casting them accordingly. Joe Eszterhas says that for Flashdance, Jennifer Beals was cast after Michael Eisner rounded up dudely gaffers and grips on the lot to watch the screen tests and asked them “which of these three young women you’d most want to fuck.” Eisner claims he polled the secretaries at the studio, who were presumably female. Objectifying actresses isn’t going to stop (at least until Michael Bay dies), and a lustful, dehumanizing gaze might even be intrinsic to visual forms. So why be surprised when female directors and showrunners use their vehicles to run down a fantasy Rolodex? Over the course of 30 Rock, Tina Fey enabled her fictional avatar to make out with Jon Hamm, Matt Damon, James Marsden, and a number of delicious sandwiches.
Patrick Wilson is not on my own fantasy Rolodex. He reminds me of GOB and looks like a John Updike protagonist. No, thanks! I am merely a hater. Plenty of other women agree that he is hot. We learned very little about Dr. Joshua. He owns a lot of expensive material things, including a ping-pong table. He lives next to a group of young stoner dudes and it makes him feel old. His motives for having sex with Hannah and letting her talk about herself so much are oblique. Maybe he’s trying to drown out his own issues by thinking about someone else’s. Maybe he’s a serial killer who decided to spare Hannah at the last second. Maybe it’s been a while since he spent hours drilling a strange woman with surgeon-like precision. Maybe he’s starved for intimacy and took the opportunity to play-act some with a harmlessly annoying random girl until he realized how empty and depressed that was eventually going to make him. Maybe he’s just a Doctor Manic Pixie Dream Patrick Wilson Facehands. We will never know, and neither will Hannah, unless Joshua ever feels like going across the street for coffee again.
Maturity Level: Facehands
Remember the days before Urban Dictionary when a discussion over whether you’d invented a slang term like “sexit” could last an entire service job shift? Yeah, me neither; only old people remember stuff like that. My first words were in emoji. Gotta go post some Vines!
Maturity Level: Sexit Stage Left