Guys on Girls, Season 2

Is Girls Becoming a Network Sitcom With Nudity?
Talking television.
Jan. 13 2013 9:31 PM

Guys on Girls, Season 2

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Is this show becoming a network sitcom with nudity?

Lena Dunham, Zosia Mamet, Allison Williams.
Lena Dunham, Zosia Mamet, and Allison Williams.

Photo by Jessica Miglio/HBO

Kois: YO.

Haglund: Hey.

Kois: Can I borrow The Fountainhead?

Haglund: Let’s not pretend, Dan—I know you really want to talk about Girls. What did you think of the Season 2 premiere?

Kois: It was madcap!

Haglund: “There are so many guys in fezzes!”

Kois: Which I didn’t mind, although if every episode is like this the show will shortly turn into, like, a network sitcom with asses.

Haglund: In both senses.

Kois: What movie were they watching? I hoped it was Ishtar but I don’t remember that having musical numbers, exactly.

Haglund: Fezzes made me picture a Marx Brothers movie.

Kois: Time to launch a Slate Investigation.

Haglund: Maybe our commenters will have better guesses.

Kois: What did YOU think?

Haglund: I also worried it was drifting too much in the sitcom-y direction. It was very broad—the early exchanges between Hannah and Elijah in particular. “I love living with you!” And so on. When Shoshanna showed up in their apartment, she didn’t even seem out of place.

Kois: I didn’t mind seeing Hannah happy—or at least fake-happy—for a little bit, though.

Haglund: And I didn’t mind seeing Marnie sad. She’s becoming more complicated as a character—and Allison Williams has improved considerably as an actor. That was one of the main bright spots for me.

Kois: I agree! That brittle lunch with her horrible mom (Rita Wilson!) was pretty terrific—a nice counterbalance to Hannah’s sudden cheeriness. I love her mom’s total inability to understand how 30-year-olds talk to each other, even though she’s sleeping with one.

Haglund: There was also that brittle post-lunch with her horrible (and about to be former) boss. All the older women in her life are sleeping with men her age.

Kois: She’s like poor Lady Edith, except that instead of all the guys her age being dead from the war, they’re dating her mom.

But this is Guys on Girls, so let’s talk about the guys. There were a lot of guys in this episode. Ray is infatuated with Shoshanna. (I loved their Times Square kiss at the end.) Adam is stuck in bed and pining for Hannah. Elijah looks like Troy Donahue but can only get a boner for Lisa Rinna and Allison Janney.

And Donald Glover (as Sandy) is crazy about Hannah. I really liked our introduction to him—so meta! “You wanted this and now you’re fucking getting it. It’s about fucking time.”

Haglund: “I’m doing this a different way.” It was hard not to hear all their dialogue as being actually about the HBO show Girls, rather than each other.

Kois: It can be both! Levels!

Haglund: Yes. And that Fountainhead joke at the end was apparently a reference to Sandy’s conservatism, though we weren’t introduced to it during the episode, unless I missed something.

Kois: Wait, he’s a conservative?

Haglund: It’s revealed in a future episode, as Troy Patterson mentioned.

Kois: Very interesting!

Did you buy Elijah’s fake bisexuality? I don’t mean, do you think he’s actually bisexual, because obviously he’s not. But did you buy him even faking bisexuality for any reason?

Haglund: I did, actually. Someone who couldn’t come out of the closet at Oberlin is probably fairly confused about his sexual identity. And that awful older boyfriend could make someone question pretty fundamental things.

Kois: But it didn’t seem like he was actually fundamentally questioning anything—it seemed like he was putting on a show. For Marnie. Why would he care what Marnie thinks?

Haglund: I thought it was more about feeling sexy and powerful. He wanted to seduce her. It was about his self-image, in other words, not about how he looked to her.

Kois: And then there was Charlie and *his* horrible girlfriend—and his muttered justifications. “Women, right?” “Love, right?”

Haglund: Charlie, right?

Kois: His hair is a big mistake.

Haglund: But his beard is spot on.

Kois: Agreed. What do you think about the Ray-Shoshanna pairing?

Haglund: I love those two. Though I had my doubts when Shoshanna reintroduced herself by saying “OMG, this place looks amaze,” because, man.

Kois: At least she didn’t say “amazeballs.”

Haglund: It’s only a matter of time. But I can buy that Ray is attracted to her, and she to him. And Karpovsky and Mamet are maybe the best actors on the show.

Kois: Agreed! Is it a step downward that we’re just talking about the characters and their various twists and turns as opposed to talking about how revolutionary the show is, etc.? Because I think it maybe bodes well for Girls that it turns out I actually want to know what happens to all these people.

Well, maybe not Thomas-John.

Haglund: That guy. Though Jessa was a breath of preposterous air as always.

And yes, I do think it’s a step down. Dunham & co. clearly decided to reintroduce all the characters and make their current places in life and relationships to each other readily apparent to the audience in a fairly conventional way.

On the other hand, like you, I did find myself interested by the end about where they would all go from here, and both believing and being intrigued by the decisions they made for each one of them.

I do worry about how they can possibly attend to all these storylines in 10 episodes of 30 minutes each. But I was won over again, despite the occasionally bumpy, expository awkwardness of the premiere.

Kois: It suggests the show has a future other than just taboo-breaking and sitcom-tradition-smashing. Anyways, my verdict: I liked this premiere! I came, you came hard, we all laughed.

Haglund: When you love someone, you don’t have to be nice all the time.

David Haglund is a senior editor at Slate. He runs Brow Beat, Slate's culture blog.

Dan Kois is Slate's culture editor and a contributing writer to the New York Times Magazine.

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