Catharsis comes in many forms. Oedipus gouged out his eyes. Romeo committed suicide. Hannah Horvath woke up in a Brooklyn brownstone all alone.
Girls began with a bang this season, but has, during the past three episodes, shriveled into a meandering series that is losing its appeal. Girls is turning into a show that can't stay out of its own way. And Sunday’s episode, “One Man’s Trash,” epitomizes the downward spiral Lena Dunham’s pet project is heading toward.
Only two of the show’s main characters appear: Hannah and Ray. Together, they work at Cafe Grumpy, the coffee shop Ray manages. An attractive yet irate customer walks in and demands to speak to a manager. Someone’s been putting the shop’s trash in the man’s cans. Yes, he’s attractive. And yes he’s irate.
Ray comes off like a petulant schmuck during his argument with the customer, who seems to have mesmerized Hannah. She quits her job, then chases after Mr. Attractive and Irate (Patrick Wilson) who happens to be a 42-year-old doctor in the midst of marriage woes. Hannah’s guilt gets the best of her as she confesses she’s been dumping the coffee shop trash in his cans.
What happens next is so overdramatic, so far-fetched, so desperate, so cliched… that it’s safe to say Girls has hit the point of no return.
Take a look for yourself:
- Hannah and Dr. Josh have sex that both admit was “weird.”
- Dr. Josh cooks a mean steak even though dirty hipsters interrupt with loud music.
- Dr. Josh calls out sick to spend an entire day with Hannah.
- Hannah stares like 13-year-old front row at a Justin Bieber concert while gazing at Dr. Josh reading the morning paper.
- Hannah and Dr. Josh play naked ping-pong and bang on the table in between sets.
- Hannah takes a shower and faints.
- Dr. Josh tells the story of being pleasured by a boy when he was 9.
- Hannah pours out her heart in a cathartic confession, which ultimately reveals how alone and unhappy she truly is.
The last part is supposed to be the defining moment of Girls’ second season — and perhaps the series. Hannah finally lets down her guard for a little self-examination. In the process, she admits to herself that she craves happiness and normalcy. (Because, you know, playing naked ping-pong with a doctor nearly double your age and in the middle of a divorce is totally normal!).
This should be a moment when we start rooting for Hannah again because let's face it — her actions so far in Season 2 have been as repugnant as the outfit she wears for most of Sunday's episode.
Instead of being on Hannah's side, her rant to Dr. Josh comes across as sophomoric and self-absorbed. She finds misery in the fact she wants to be like others since her entire goal in life is to rack up a series of experiences that includes someone ejaculating on a chest bruise.
To Hannah, the most depressing aspect about her catharsis is how it reveals she’s no different from anyone else out there. They all want love, a shoulder to cry on, a super-soft bathrobe to wear, happiness, and of course, naked ping-pong.
“One Man’s Trash” is a harbinger that Girls’ charm is running out. The past three episodes have produced few laughworthy moments. Story lines have gone stale. The best characters go weeks without any screen time (who ever would have thought we'd be missing Adam?!). And we’ve sure as hell seen enough of Lena Dunham’s chest for one lifetime.
Either way, just like Hannah comes to the sobering conclusion that she’s no different from anyone else, Girls is beginning to look like just an ordinary show.
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Photo credit: HBO