It's cruel to admit, but human beings feed off the failure of others. We don't want our friends to fail, but it's nice to know you've got the edge on someone. Those little victories are a personal reverence. "At least I'm not her," you say. "At least I'm doing something right."
But what if you're so used to being on top, that you're blind to a friend's sudden succession?
Marnie spent the first season of Girls as the success compass for her friends. She was curating art, wearing Ann Taylor suits, in a committed (if flawed) long-term relationship. She was, in some regards, "better" than Hannah. "Saner" than Shoshanna. "Safer" than Jessa. And certainly more centered than then-boyfriend Charlie.
Now, she's a hostess at a gentleman's club. She's semi-homeless. She's single. But Hannah has a book deal. Shoshanna has a boyfriend who loves her (for now). Jessa's off finding herself. And Charlie developed a phone app that he sold for big money. A phone app thats basic function (to prevent its operator from calling people they shouldn't) is based on Marnie's tendency to break hearts.
Marnie's a frustrating character, but unlike her peers, her baggage isn't the result of self-afflicted misery. She's not at the bottom of the barrel because she messed up. She lost her job like so many of us lose our jobs – she got unlucky. So when she finds out from Shoshanna and Ray that Charlie's doing so well, she's flabberghasted. She's supposed to be the one with her stuff together. Charlie's supposed to be mourning their failed relationship. Instead, he channeled his grief into a positive outlet and is doing just fine.
So what does Marnie really want out of life? She wants to be a singer. It feels a little out of left field (or not - if you've seen this video of Allison Williams pre-Girls fame, you might have assumed a singing storyline would work its way onto the show eventually). But thanks to the encouragement of Ray (who lovingly informs her that she "can't dress like a magician's assistant forever"), she might be willing to give this silly dream a chance. And you know what? I hope she does ok with that. Because Marnie needs a win right about now.
While Ray is doling out sage advice, his girlfriend is at a party one of her college friend's is throwing (yes, Shoshanna is still in college), one Ray refused to go to because he feels too old. The age gap was always going to be an issue eventually, and it seems Shoshanna is starting to realize that. She leaves the party early because she "isn't really a party person," and chats up the doorman on her way out. He's obviously into her, insisting he's seen her in a club before. "You're, like, really good looking for a doorman," she tells him. "I think you're beautiful," he says back. And then they make out in a closet.
Uh, whoops? Granted, Shoshanna was quick in love with Ray, her first real boyfriend, so it's understandable that her curiousity would pike. Now that she's sexually active, it'll be hard to contain that fervor. I hope her and Ray can strike an open relationship deal for minimal heartbreak reasons, but I doubt it'll be that neat. In fact, I was getting major vibes between Ray and Marnie in their scene together. Let's hope those vibes were way off.
But as for vibes I hope aren't off? The ones I'm getting from Adam and his new ladyfriend, Natalia (Shiri Appleby). Adam goes to an AA meeting (even though he's been sober since he was 17), grasping for some sort of human interaction after his break-up from Hannah, and there he meets a zany woman (played by Carol Kane, doing her best Ruth Gordon in Rosemary's Baby impression) who wants to hook him up with her daughter. His call to Natalia is adorable in all of the best Adam-esque ways ("Whoa, this is a landline?" "You'll know me, I'm very tall. And semi-dashing." "Your mother says you have very good teeth, so I'll be looking at you like a creep.") and their first date goes really well. It's nice to see Adam happy and functioning without Hannah. I'm glad he's back.
Honestly, of all the storylines this week, it's Hannah's that falls a little flat. Not that OCD isn't a compelling subject. It is. And (if Twitter is to be believed) Lena Dunham suffers from the disorder herself, so Hannah's struggle with it is a pretty accurate first-person account. But to drop it into an already busy episode feels like a disservice to the seriousness of it. One of my biggest TV pet peeves is when a character suddenly exhibits a trait that's been absent from the rest of the show's run for the sake of that particular episode's convenience. I have no doubt that OCD flairs up in times of stress, and Hannah's obviously under extreme pressure with her e-book deadline looming ahead. But for someone as prone to discussing personal neuroses as Hannah is, it rings a little false that she's never mentioned it before.
Still, it's nice to see her parents again, who take her to a shrink (Bob Balaban) who's more obnoxious than helpful. "I will do anything you say if you just tell my parents I'm ok," Hannah pleads to him. We're never really certain if he does this – the next time we see Hannah, she's on the subway with her parents, prescription in hand. Do we think she'll actually follow through with the e-book? Or is this our first real hint that there's serious trouble ahead for Miss Hannah? As her father says earlier in the episode when she's running late, "I always factor in a Hannah cushion of 15 to 40 minutes." What's the e-book deadline equivalent of a Hannah cushion?