"It's A Shame About Ray," the fourth episode of Girls' sophomore season, is about two distinctly different dinner parties that converge into two distinctly similar outcomes. One involves Jessa's first meeting with new husband Thomas John's parents. The other is Hannah's attempt at a grown up soiree, the first dinner party in this post-Elijah age.
Anyone who's seen the show knows that a Jessa/parental figure meet-up is a disaster in the making. And, with a few minor exceptions, it totally is. Her hippie persona clashes almost instantly with Thomas John's WASPy folks, notably his rigid, blonde mother, who regards her new daughter-in-law like one would a contagious rat. Funnily enough, Thomas John's father takes a liking to Jessa, and their easy flirtation throughout dinner keeps the moment light. But Thomas John sees the errs of his way through his mother's eyes. The dinner is the inevitable "oh shit" moment for him, though it's slightly less clear if Jessa would have ended things immediately following if not for their at-home argument where he accuses her of being a whore with no work ethic. It's a harsh moment from a mostly laughable buffoon, but it hits because, in it's own sad way, it's true. Jessa has coasted along for the majority of her life, and marrying a handsome one-percenter didn't exactly help detract from the obvious. Sure, their separation lands her nicely in the lap of recently roommateless friend Hannah by episode's end, and Jessa isn't the sort of person to let something like inevitable divorce throw her under a bus, but it's a humbling moment for our resident free-wheeler. Jessa's always been the assuredly sturdy one of the bunch, the wise-beyond-her-years life enthusiast eager for experience. Now, she's a statistic. But maybe this will lead to the most mature version of herself yet. Or maybe a downward spiral is in order. It'll be interesting to see what the show does with her in its remaining episodes.
On the other side of town, Hannah's dinner party is off to an imperfect start: she's having a hard time making noodles. Oh, and Marnie shows up (with her usual bottle of wine in tow) even though Hannah was sure she wouldn't. This complicates things ten-fold, since Charlie is also there, with headband-wearing girlfriend Audrey on his arm. (Shoshanna and Ray are in attendance, as well.) Things escalate when Hannah reveals (after a discussion about butt plugs) that Marnie hates the word "butthole." Audrey, sensing an opportunity for intrusion, decides to start saying the word over and over, to the obvious irritation of basically everyone there. It's really an excuse for her to get riled up and let Marnie know that she's onto her lingering feelings for Charlie. Marnie leaves the room and heads to the roof, and Charlie follows her. (Audrey, wisely, heads home.) Charlie kisses Marnie, but she pulls away – she's seeing Booth Jonathan, so they shouldn't. He gets mad and returns to the party, complaining about Marnie's antics. Cue the biggest surprise of the night: Hannah actually defends Marnie and tells Charlie to grow up. Hannah, of all the people in the world. And for once, she has the good authority to give this sort of advice. It's nice to see that, despite their shaky status, Hannah still loves her best friend. And no ex-boyfriend can get the better of that.
The dinner party is also revelatory in the case of Shoshanna and Ray, when the former figures out that the latter is actually living with her. "I mean, like, you were there on Monday and Tuesday, and Wednesday, and um, and then Thursday, and the week before, um, the week before that. Oh my god, do you live with me?" she wonders aloud (in the funniest moment of the episode). Ray admits later on, as they wait for the subway, that he's insecure about their relationship and that's why he never told her he was basically homeless. He's older and should, by all means, have these things figured out. But he doesn't. When Shoshanna tells him she loves him, he looks surprised and tells her that's crazy. But he immediately shifts gears: "I love you so f***ing much," he blurts out. On a show full of wildly unsuccessful relationships, it's nice to see these two making it work, however offbeat and dysfunctional it may be.
The episode ends with Jessa, post Thomas John screamfest, barging in on Hannah in the bathtub. Jessa joins her and cries while Hannah looks on in befuddlement. It's the first time any of us have seen Jessa so vulnerable. But when Jessa blows a snot bubble, all bets are off. Hannah can't help but make fun of her, and the two get a good laugh in. I'm sure the next step is for Jessa to move in, and I'm excited at the prospect of these two bunking up. I can only imagine the worst, truth be told. But I'm sure they'll have fun.