‘Girls’ Recap: Ray and Marnie Are Actually Interesting!

Girls, Allison Williams and Alex KarpovskyHBO

Hannah: Art vs. Work

It’s the struggle to which every aspiring artist can relate: devote yourself altogether to the craft or take the “sell-out route” and compromise your creative integrity with a paying gig in the corporate world. At least that’s one way to look at it — the perspective Hannah adopts when she signs on for an advertorial position at GQ magazine, realizing quickly that she might have just cemented herself in a lifelong position of artistic bankruptcy.

Two weeks prior, Girls had us rattled over the discovery that Hannah was capable of some dark behavior (and, the really rattling thing, that we might be too). This week’s episode retreads this territory, but in much more comfortable waters. Instead of horrifying duplicity, we’re treated to a taste of Hannah’s self-involved immaturity. To reiterate, anyone in Hannah’s position this week is likely to entertain the same questions — “Is working for corporate America tantamount to abandoning my dreams? And if so, can I live with that?” — but the difference between us and Hannah (hopefully!) is our ability to ruminate logically on an idea before thrusting ourselves full force into the most destructive “solution.” Hannah insults her coworkers by insinuating that she, unlike they, is a real writer… only to learn that they have each made far more impressive creative accomplishments than she has, but work in advertorial writing because it pays the bills. Afraid of being stuck in the machine, Hannah hastily quits her new job… only to recoil moments later and beg for it once more. This is where we can (again, hopefully) separate ourselves from Hannah.

Although we have all dreamt of throwing caution to the wind and delving into our passion projects full force at the expense of responsible living, we don’t. Season 3 seems like it’s trying to push Hannah as the living id — everything we would do, say, think, and feel were not for our overwhelming sense of shame… serving almost the same function as another HBO great, Larry David on Curb Your Enthusiasm. But audiences seem to have very different degrees of appreciation for the two.

Ultimately, Hannah decides to stay at her gig, and Adam’s parallel storyline of giving up his own anti-establishment convictions to take an acting gig (yes, that’s how anti-establishment he was) is likely to breed some kind of conflict between the two down the line.

Ray and Marnie: A “Love” Story

I’ll be honest. After last week introduced the Ray/Marnie tryst, I thought this was going to be the weakest storyline we’ve yet to see on Girls. But in pitting the diametrically oppositional characters together in this episode, Girls shows us something interesting about each. Ray is the only person in the show’s central circle who has never bought into Marnie. And although Shoshanna did a pretty good job of invoking his vulnerable side, she wasn’t a rigid enough person to really challenge him on a visceral level.

Marnie, representing everything Ray hates but doing so with the conviction Shoshanna never had, seems to be making him reconsider his values and motives — admitting defeat and watching Real Housewives. Meanwhile, the icy and judgmental Marnie is herself challenged by the proverbially uncool Ray, brought down from a pedestal of standoffishness to provoke him into proving his interest in her and agreeing to have lunch with him despite her hostile insistence that he’s the antithesis of someone she’d want to spend time with. It’s interesting to see the pair attempt civility, since they are approaching one another from two incredibly distant points on the spectrum of the human value system. Ray and Shoshanna were different, sure, but it’s more interesting when the second party in a relationship is also from the planet Earth.

Shoshanna… Poor Shoshanna…

And now, with Ray creeping back into her mind and heart, Shoshanna is losing it — questioning her new life choices and taking up with a painfully stupid boy in the interest of getting her “serious relationship” phase on track. It probably won’t work out too well.