Girls: Hannah’s New Expression – S3 E3

Jon Catlin will review each episode of Girls season 3, as they are released, on The Airspace. You can read his full introduction to the season here.

Thus far in Season 3 we’ve seen Hannah in the best state she’s ever been in. In episode 3, however, some fumblings at her birthday party—which, she tells us, always go terribly—take us back to Hannah’s intractable personality problems. With Hannah turning 25, she enters a new state of adulthood in which the fact that you’ve just graduated college and are still finding your bearings is no longer legitimate. As Shoshanna puts it to all of the older girls: “It’s really amazing that all three of you have accomplished so little in the four years since college. I mean think about it: four years.” Shoshanna’s comment seems to hit home, and it shows on Hannah’s face throughout the episode. Mixing her character flaws with her new and admirable adult qualities, Hannah gets more complex than ever in this episode. As Hannah gets closer and closer to the mature self we want her to be, she continues to annoy us with her naiveté. We see own realization of this in a new expression she makes in various settings:

Whatever Hannah is actually thinking about herself while making this expression, she is still so lacking in self-awareness that the audience is ultimately a better judge of what’s happening to her emotionally, so it’s important to consider the context of where she is at this point.

The episode marks the second time we really get to see anything about Adam’s personal life, the first being our run-in with a bitter and hurt Natalia in “Females Only” (S3 E1). Adam’s sister Caroline has been dumped and lost her job and begs Adam to let her stay with him. While Hannah comforts Caroline in a rare moment of selflessness, she naively ignores Caroline’s past in her extended invitation for her to stay with them. Adam knows better. “I know you’re trying to be nice, but there is no being nice to this girl. She destroys everything in her wake.”

Yet after Hannah agrees to trust Adam’s opinion on the matter, he gives her an eager look and grabs her boobs. “No,” she says determinedly, turning away. Here, we are reminded that Adam has his own tendencies, perhaps not so different from his sister’s. But while she seems genuinely psychotic, throughout the episode biting Ray and crushing a glass in her hand, Adam seems to have overcome the problems of his troubled family circumstance on his own, starting with his addiction.

And then Hannah’s naïve privilege pops back into the scene, though perhaps helpfully. As Caroline is showing off the bruises her partner left her with and admitting that she’s a threat to everyone around her, Hannah interrupts by inviting Caroline to her 25th birthday party.

The episode’s title, “She said OK,” comes in when Hannah immediately caves to Caroline’s manipulation and offers her a place to stay. Caroline seizes on Hannah’s weakness and tries to pit Hannah against Adam in telling her brother “She said OK,” which does indeed cause several arguments between the two. The episode ends with another one of Hannah’s birthdays ruined.

Hannah’s expression externalizes the frustration she has with herself and her life at these tense moments. While she trusts Adam, he is also the one to provoke this new expression of uneasiness, shame, and dissatisfaction in her. She wants to trust herself, but she seems constantly unsure of what to do. When she tries to listen to her new adult sense of compassion (the disgustingly selfish Hannah seems to be in the past now, mostly a product of her OCD), she is scolded by Adam for her immaturity; yet she can automatically relates to Caroline as a fellow human beings with mental health issues, and seems to realize that Adam’s harsh approach won’t help Caroline either.

Ray and Shoshanna’s relatively short interaction at the end of the episode is one of the strongest scenes we’ve seen thus far in Season 3. Having avoided each other up to this point since their fallout at the end of Season 2, Ray approaches Shoshanna outside Hannah’s birthday. He sees her outside smoking a cigarette and staring at her smartphone. She’s dressed in black and has on dark makeup. This is not the bubbly Shoshanna we’re used to. Ray has just talked to a guy at the bar who Shoshanna pulled into her car while looking for a place to get pot and who compared her to a woman in a Ciroc commercial. Ray starts to talk up his motivation—his success at the new Grumpy’s and new apartment—but soon realizes he can’t pretend to be the man Shoshanna wants him to be. “I don’t think I want to be friends with you,” he interrupts his prepared speech about his newfound maturity and initiative.

While Shoshanna ended things romantically with their first breakup, Ray brought on this second breakup—that of their friendship as well. A stunning shot of Shoshanna looking abandoned and confused leaves us wondering what’s on her mind. She’s discovered the new “work hard play hard” side of herself and become more sexually explorative, but we don’t know enough yet to determine whether she’s better off with or without Ray’s charming negativity. Even further behind an immature Hannah, Shoshanna is literally experiencing rejection for the first time, and her response to it in the coming episodes is something to watch for.

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