“Downright intolerable.” “Frankenstein’s monster of our own creation.” Just a couple of crystalised terms coined about writer, hellraiser and Girls creator, Lena Dunham. “Why does she insist on being naked, completely out of context?”, one scribe begs – maybe he should read Pin-Up Grrls by Maria Elena Buszek. But if there is a context, he failed to mention what it was. Perhaps, to assume, conventionally attractive? Fat-free? Man-pleasing, to an extent? Clicking insanely on the “Like” button programmed in our collective heads may go against the angry Facebook emoji for some upon seeing a vain, nude and plump Lena Dunham when in character. But she’s been too busy spinning a career out of brash confidence and comic self-loathing to care about context.
The second episode in the sixth and final season of the femmy world of Girls sees Marnie (Allison Williams) in deep frustration, ransacking her memory of doomed relationships and cursing her life in general: “How did I get here? … How the fuck did I end up here?” As in TV, as in life, it’s one of many universal questions. Marnie and Desi (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) are stoking the somewhat dying embers of married life. With a country weekend in Poughkeepsie they drag Hannah along to appease some guilt because they’ve reconciled behind Ray’s back and in Hannah’s eyes, she’s supporting both Marnie’s “sick little tryst” with Desi, and her cycle of lies to Ray (Alex Karpovsky). She briefly escapes the charade to walk into a junk shop and finds a woman who could be mistaken for a highly-stylised, statuesque, Mesopotamian goddess who’s risen, ghostlike, from the ancient city of Nineveh. It’s not as romantic but instead, she has fled the New York diva fashion world to run a humble Poughkeepsie bric-a-brac shop to live “her truth.” She then gifts Hannah with a fine china tea set that becomes a delicate visual motif of the episode – particularly when we’re palpably thrilled watching Desi in a huge meltdown at the country cabin.
In the interim, Shosh (Zosia Mamet) is still on a quest for a dream life that could only be attained by having the dream job. In a trendy space of young professional women and wannabes, Elijah (Andrew Rannells) and Jessa (Jemima Kirke) accompany her to a networking event run by two young, nasally-sounding CEOs who have founded a hip, new and successful company, ‘Jamba Jeans’. As former friends of Shoshanna’s, the CEOs have cracked the life that Shosh craves. But she bails on a holiday with them at the last minute to go with Jessa in the hope of spotting Vincent Gallo!
The closing scene is touching. We see Hannah pick a bloodied Desi up from the ground after his emotional breakdown and he leans on her the way an injured soldier might as they make their way to the car for the drive back to Brooklyn. He’s carrying the weight of his broken spirit on his shoulders and they become the walking wounded. Two imperfect human beings in a perfect frame of darkness; Marnie in the drivers’ seat switches the headlights on to illuminate them, and their crosses to bare. She smiles a gentle smile, with a look that flits knowingly across her face. It’s one of unconditional love and acceptance of human foibles. As in TV, as in life.