Culture

Catching Up with the 'Girls': A Season 2 Check-in with Hannah, Marnie, Shoshanna, and Jessa

Lena Dunham in Girls/Photo © HBO
Lena Dunham in Girls/Photo © HBO

Love her or hate her, Lena Dunham doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. HBO renewed her hit series “Girls” for a third season before the second season aired last month, and the week prior, she took home two Golden Globes for Best Actress in a Comedy Series and Best Comedy Series.

To top that, she and co-executive producer Jenni Konner announced plans for another show they’re developing for HBO: a TV series about the life of Betty Halbreich, a Bergdorf-based personal shopper whose business of almost thirty-seven years has catered to celebrities like Sarah Jessica Parker and Meryl Streep. She also consulted in the overall costume design on “Sex and the City” and Woody Allen’s earlier films (this is where I’d imagine the appeal for Dunham clicks in). So far, Dunham’s work on “Girls” and her 2010 film “Tiny Furniture” have been heavily reflective of her life’s experiences. Taking the spotlight off of her personal life could be an exciting change of pace for both Dunham and audiences.

But until then, our focus is on “Girls.” [SPOILERS AHEAD] Season two enters a new chapter in the lives of Hannah Horvath (Dunham), Marnie Michaels (Allison Williams), Jessa Johansson (Jemima Kirke), and Shoshanna Stern (Zosia Mamet). Thus far, the girls have variably managed to get fired, snort cocaine, fight, eat, laugh, cry, and of course, have very awkward sex.  And that’s only in the first four episodes.

The show returns to find Hannah and her gay ex-boyfriend, Elijah (Andrew Rannells), living together, as Elijah has taken over the roommate position left open by Marnie following her fallout with Hannah. While last season really focused on Hannah’s hardships with unemployment, sexual harassment in the workplace (both by her and other parties), and her meandering relationship with the ever-shirtless Adam (Adam Driver), this season’s focus seems to sit on Marnie’s problems.

In the first episode, Marnie gets fired from her job, is told in a very intimidating job interview that she doesn’t fit into the art world at all, has a brief sexual encounter with Elijah, and then wanders over to her ex-boyfriend Charlie’s (Christopher Abbott) apartment to spend the night sleeping next to him. We came to know Marnie as a stable young woman whose main character arch was breaking up with her boyfriend and getting fed up with Hannah. Right from the first get-go this time around, all of her security is taken from her.

Hannah, of course, is still up to her in-the-name-of-writing antics. In the third episode of season two, on an assignment from her new freelance writing manager, Hannah and Elijah do cocaine, during which escapade Elijah spills the truth that he and Marnie had sex. Hannah, being Hannah and also high on coke, kicks Elijah out of the apartment and tells Marnie that she no longer gets to be “the good friend” in their arguments because of what she did.

Shoshanna and Jessa are now both in relationships. While Shoshanna’s budding romance with Ray (Alex Karpovsky) is off to a good start, Jessa’s marriage to Thomas-John (Chris O’Dowd) quickly crumbles in episode four after a hellish dinner with her in-laws, whose idea of a suitable daughter-in-law veers far right of where Jessa sits. Inevitably, Jessa and Thomas-John explode into a cringe-worthy fight – the kind a couple doesn’t typically recover from – as soon as they’re home.

Our point with this recap? Season two is off to a great start. Dunham has returned with an exciting batch of storylines, filled with her entertaining balance of quick wit and uneasy humiliation. Returning with the core cast is an exciting plethora of guest stars, from Donald Glover as Hannah’s Republican non-boyfriend and Dunham’s own mother, photographer Laurie Simmons, as an ice-cold art curator. Rita Wilson, Griffin Dunne, and Deborah Rush appear respectively in parent roles. The characters seem to have grown from last season’s experiences, and while some growing has definitely occurred, it’ll be a while before they ever grow up. We can’t wait to see them try.