Review: 'Girls' - 'Boys': Partners in crime
A review of tonight's "Girls" coming up just as soon as my boyfriend is doing lights for Carly Rae Jepsen...
The title of "Boys" suggests a high-concept episode told entirely from the perspective of Ray, Adam, and the other male members of the "Girls" universe. The actual episode doesn't go that far, though, as we spend a good deal of time on what's going on individually with Hannah (who gets an offer to write an ebook) and Marnie (who proves Hannah isn't the only regular who can inadvertently talk her way out of a relationship in a hurry), and then about their strained friendship and how they lie to each other constantly to make themselves feel better.
But if "Boys" isn't entirely Ray and Adam-centric, it makes the most of their time together, demonstrating how complicated, prickly and appealing they can be, both alone and together, in the same messy but fascinating way that the women of "Girls" are portrayed.
Ray and Adam are linked together by the women in their lives and not much else — though, as Adam notes, "we're both kinda weird-looking." Ray overanalyzes everything, Adam operates purely on animal instinct, but both approaches often get them into trouble. (The only thing keeping Adam from being homeless like Ray is the money he gets from his grandmother to subsidize his angry existence.) But they get along, however briefly, because Adam needs backup for his Staten Island adventure, while Ray has clearly never been asked to be somebody's backup before and revels in the opportunity.
Alex Karpovsky and Adam Driver worked very well together, and the script turned their relationship into a funhouse mirror of the dynamic that Adam has with Hannah, where Ray just keeps talking and talking and talking (primarily, but not entirely, about his visceral hatred of Staten Island) until he eventually drives Adam away. (Without realizing it, he backs Adam into a position where he has to defend Hannah, even after he's renounced her.) So Adam runs off, the daughter of the dog's owner belittles Ray on a day when he's already feeling small, and he winds up stuck with the stolen, angry dog, in the middle of his most hated borough, feeling once again like a complete loser. As much humiliation as the show's regular protagonist suffers, Hannah always has the innate ability to pick herself up and go looking for more. Ray's older and possibly wiser, but he doesn't have that resiliency. It's a funny story, and then a sad one.
Even Marnie's story gave us some insight into Booth Jonathan, who remains a smug and insensitive d-bag — who didn't for a moment consider that Marnie might think she was at the party as his girlfriend and not his employee — but who's at least allowed a few moments of empathy and self-awareness as he acknowledges that no one actually likes him, but rather the idea of him.
Though "Girls" went largely off-format with last week's episode, it was still an half-hour about Hannah Horvath. I'd be curious to see them try the "Enlightened" approach of the occasional episode centered entirely around a supporting character. Based on how well everyone's written here in their own moments, I think it could work quite well.
Some other thoughts:
* Hannah's editor is played by "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" writer/director/star John Cameron Mitchell.
* The worst Shoshanna can think to say about Donald Trump is that he shouldn't have hired Ivanka as a judge on "Celebrity Apprentice."
* Jessa has, for now, taken over the bedroom formerly belonging to Marnie (and then Elijah), which makes karmic sense now that Marnie has taken her place at Shoshanna's.
* Ray's discussion of his relationship with Shoshanna establishes that this episode takes place only seven weeks since the end of season 1. Given that Jessa and Thomas John were just returning from their honeymoon in the season premiere, I suppose that works.
* "Boys" is only the second episode of the series to not have Lena Dunham's name on the writing credit, and the only other time (this season's "I Get Ideas") was by co-showrunner Jenni Konner, where this was by Murray Miller.
* The closing credits song was a cover of The Rolling Stones' "Fool to Cry" by Tegan and Sara.
What did everybody else think?
Alan Sepinwall may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org