In “Hard Being Easy,” we learn that the soft-hearted Charlie is a master of modular storage. I am pretty sure his apartment won Apartment Therapy’s Small Cool 2012 contest, regardless of the fact that his GIRLFRIEND SINCE 2007 (see: five years) HAS NEVER BEEN THERE. I didn’t buy that little detail, considering that not even the most cruel and uninterested girlfriend would eventually have visited her man’s apartment. Marnie never had to be near his place at night? Marnie never had a broken shower and a shitty super? Marnie never needed to borrow a book? Leaving Marnie out of this, seeing Charlie’s place—besides making me see Charlie in a whole new light, which was the point—made me think he is probably a more interesting person than his girlfriend. Somebody has a subscription to Dwell.
Meanwhile, Hannah, having been properly chastised for privately writing about Marnie’s romantic issues, is persuaded by Jessa (“Get the story!”) to fuck her handsy boss. Technically, Hannah’s boss is the ‘bad guy’ because he is sexually harassing his employees; however, Girls logic dictates that Hannah must always be the driving (err, bumbling) negative force in almost all of her scenes. In this instance, Hannah unsuccessfully tries to fuck, sue and extort her boss all in one go. He is a jovial enough guy (must be all the massaging) and pleads with Hannah to just keep her job and stop acting crazy. But Hannah, ever the alarmist, knows that this is a “sex scandal” and gives up the gig. It is done off screen, but I imagine she storms out in a huff with a badly not-broken down cardboard box carrying the whimsical contents of her desktop. Alas, poor handsy boss Rich! We knew you not nearly long enough.
Hannah troops immediately to Adam’s, because now they are Boyfriend and Girlfriend, except when she gets there, Adam is shirtless (surprise!) and he thought they were already broken up. Hannah is immediately crushed, though she tries to hide her disappointment in the bathroom. When she emerges, Adam is masturbating on the bed. He says he knows she was still there, which initially bewilders Hannah. Why jerk it if there’s a lady present? It becomes clear that shirtless Adam has a thing for being humiliated, after asking Hannah if she thinks he’s “bad” and “dirty.” For once, Hannah relishes the opportunity to really gain the upper hand and goes along with Adam’s fantasy. She indulges his kink and verbally degrades him, even taking $100 from his dresser (for a taxi and pizza and gum) and refusing to, ahem, step on his balls. I liked knowing that scuzzy Adam got off on being humiliated, because after mistreating Hannah (though she never really committed to removing herself from the situation) I felt like he deserved it. Adam, I think the viewers would love to step on your balls. Just give us a call.
A lot of critics have disliked both Adam and Jessa’s initial storylines, accusing the writers of easy characterization and low hanging fruit kind of moves. Personally, I find both Adam and Jessa to be the most compelling players—their personalities and eccentricities on display to the audience more honestly than the others. For instance, all we know at this point about Zosia Mamet (sigh, Shoshanna) is that she is a curious virgin that went to Camp Ramah. We are already learning ten times as much about Jessa and Adam, who are both damaged, but in a way that is familiar and realistic.
Jessa’s seduction of her ex-boyfriend is a great example of this. Her sexy Geisha outfit (love the lipstick, girl!) is so appropriate for this scenario, which I imagine is nearly universal. A girl like Jessa—most girls, sometimes—want to know they are memories that can’t be forgotten by past lovers. Jessa’s triumph over this guy isn’t the sex, but that he has cheated on Gillian (hard G sound) because he still finds her irresistible and magnetic. After the act, she kicks him out without a goodbye kiss. This isn’t about him; it’s about Jessa. Adam’s relationship with Hannah works the same way. It could be any girl; Hannah is just a stand-in for a woman with low self-esteem that will indulge Adam’s ideas about himself. It’s why he’s asking her to act like a sexual pre-teen in one breath and then asking her to essentially play a domineering mistress in another.
Can we start the Countdown to Cool Dad Sex 2012 yet? It’s so obvious that he is pining for her. He probably doodles her name in his unemployed Cool Dad journal late at night while eating all the snacks in his house. Cool Dad has got it bad.
Returning to Marnie and Charlie, who are the heart of “Hard Being Easy,” will bring us to the best scene of the episode, which is the fantastic flashback to Oberlin in 2007. Hannah, Marnie and Jessa are at a sexy sex dance (we of the liberal arts college should be familiar with these events), and Marnie has ingested an unknown substance that has her fused to a pole in the middle of the dance. The Knife is playing! Marnie has adorable librarian bangs! A guy behind them is wearing a neon pink cap! It really is 2007. Instead of staying to calm Marnie down, Hannah’s gay boyfriend grabs a dude named Charlie to help calm Marnie while he and Hannah dance to the Scissor Sisters. This scene helps us see that Marnie and Charlie were thrown together out of necessity, and implies that the relationship hasn’t evolved much from its point of inception. Marnie isn’t really stuck to a pole in an Oberlin basement anymore, but she is still holding onto Charlie because she’s afraid of what will happen when she isn’t.
Luckily, the too-small module of Charlie’s bed helps Marnie realize that they have truly outgrown the relationship. She can’t fuck Charlie without banging her head on the ceiling of his bed-nook, and she also can’t love Charlie while fulfilling her own potential. This moment is bittersweet because Charlie is a mostly nice guy we don’t want to see hurt, but the breakup is a much necessary and long overdue schism. Maybe without the hindrance of their relationship, both parties will grow and change for the better.
Though, this being Girls, I’m sure the stumbles and growing pains of getting to said better selves will be humiliating and hilarious. Cue the Belle & Sebastian.