Our Favorite HBO Girls are Back With Better Acting Chops and Deeper Stories
Remember last season, when Girls was all about, “I don’t even want a boyfriend,” and “my parents just cut off my money,” and “no one could ever hate me as much as I hate myself?” It looks like season two is going to be more of the same, though decidedly more hip and mature.
Fresh off its Golden Globe nominations and wins, including Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy, and Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy (Lena Dunham), the second season of Girls launched with promises to be a better, deeper, darker iteration of its inaugural self.
Before the opening credits rolled during last weeks season premier, Hannah (Dunham) had sex with three different guys, Marnie (Allison Williams) got fired from her art gallery job, and Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet) remained completely sensible and on-track despite her naïve silliness. Jessa (Jemima Kirke), as usual, was missing in action from the first episode of the new seasons. We can assume she was busy sexing it up in a back alley, clothing store changing room, or wherever else her feet might touch the ground.
Let’s wind the clock back just a bit to set the tone for how the freshman season of Girls ended, and how the second season morphed into existence. Here are the highlights (lowlights?):
- Marnie and Hannah decide they are no longer going to be roommates.
- Hannah runs into an old schoolmate who’s become quite successful, which completely sets her off and sends her into an emotional tailspin.
- Shoshanna finally loses her virginity to Ray (Alex Karpovsky) after a long time convincing the others she wasn’t a virgin.
- Hannah and Adam (Adam Driver) appeared on the verge of perfection just as he gets hit by a truck.
The entire first season felt like a 10-episode introduction to the primary cast with some drama thrown in for good measure. In fact, we did spend a fair amount of time learning about the entitlement issues that seem to control Hannah’s life, Jessa’s complete lack of personal boundaries and respect for others, Marnie’s contradicting desires to be a responsible adult and still act like a kid, and Shoshanna’s childlike naïveté that cocoons a smart, savvy young.
One thing that carries over from the first season to the second is that no character is particularly likeable. This isn’t a knock on the series, the writing, or the casting. It’s the reality of the characters who, like most people in life, are filled with flaws that from an outsider’s perspective might be enough to generate surface-level dislike.
However, and also like real life, the more we get to know these characters and all their quirks, foibles, and idiosyncrasies, we begin to find them relatable, if still unlikeable. We understand that being a 20-something girl in New York City isn’t the easiest existence in the world, but could be made a bit easier with a more optimistic attitude and a bit more camaraderie.
The other thing that carried over is that Zosia Mamet, whose lineage and acting chops might place her years ahead of her contemporaries, steals every single scene in which her Shoshanna character appears. She’s lovely, genuine, funny, and above all a total pro in front of the camera. This is certainly not a disparaging comment about the rest of the cast which, for the most part, is terrific. This is simply to point out that there’s something special about Mamet, and I hope Dunham, as the show’s primary writer, knows what a gem she has in her cast.
It looks like there’s going to be more nudity, more vulgar language, and a few additional guest stars this season, which is an excellent sign that season two will far surpass the first season. Here’s hoping Girls is everything we want in an HBO series!