Girls Review: “Female Author” (Season 4, Episode 3)


In its previous three seasons, Girls has explored, dissected and over-analyzed the inner workings of its clutch of young New Yorkers. For season four, that contemplation has been split across the country; from the bustling metropolis where Marnie, Shoshanna and Jessa still reside to the Iowa Writers’ Workshop lifestyle held by Hannah. Three episodes in and the juggling act between those two locations has blended perfectly to provide an equal chunk of time spent with each of the four leads. That construct is shoved right into our faces this week as the episode opens to Jessa’s toothpaste dancing white bum during a Skype chat with Hannah.

For the most of her screentime, Marnie’s behaviour is beyond grating – it’s frustratingly naive. Chatting with Ray about her current problems with Desi, her responses serve to make Ray’s sympathetic side shine. Describing his public displays of affection, it’s almost as if she’s reaching to find decency in her current lover. Desi puts his hand on her butt while they queue up for Starbucks, as if that’s a sign of his implicit loyalty to her, in spite of the fact that he’s still got a girlfriend. He’s introduced her to his cousin. Hardly stuff to warrant such fawning, which is perhaps why she’s she’s still unable to commit to one emotional alliance.

Ray’s response, pointing out Desi’s biggest flaw, “He still hasn’t chosen you,” prompts her to leap into his lap and straddle him. One moment she’s describing how blissful it all is between she and her songwriting partner, the next, she’s throwing herself at someone else! It’s typical Marnie behaviour, but perhaps a sign that their supposedly idyllic relationship isn’t as strong as she pretends it is. It’s Ray who emerges as the kind of guy she should be with, but in all likelihood that will never happen.

Every time Marnie fails to stand up for herself, and surrenders to the stipulations of her current partner, she loses credibility. Her journey in this episode sees her taking a leap into regaining control. At last! An A&R meeting with Desi turns awkward fast, and the pair wind up outside arguing about their relationship. He wants her to explore her freedom; she says ‘I already know what I want, and you’re not offering it to me.’ It’s annoying to watch her throw herself time and time again at men who aren’t able to fulfil her needs, but it’s perhaps the first time she’s been so utterly honest about those needs. Their heated discussion is a rare occasion wherein she doesn’t act like a victim to the archaic concept of ‘needing a man.’

Shoshanna’s tiny amount of screen time so far this season is expanded slightly, during her job interview for a jewelry company. Her tactics for getting a job – attending interviews for positions she feels she’s above to gain experience – are exposed to hilarious effect. Where the other girls hide behind over-explained reasoning, Shosh tells it like it is, without worrying about other people’s opinion of her. Her candour is without irony and so shocking that it’s like being dunked into an ice cold bath. It’s reminiscent of the season 3 episode when the girls take a weekend vacation in upstate New York, and Shosh dishes out the truth to Hannah, Marnie and Jessa. Her honesty, while brittle and tactless, is a refreshing alternative to the introspective yabberings of the other three. Here’s hoping we’ll see more of this explored in the remainder of the season.

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