We begin again, this time with an unsmoteable “Previously on Girls” montage befitting of your weirdest weird uncle. The series had already been picked up for a second season by the time the first season finale rolled around, so the show left us with plenty of loose ends: Shoshanna lost her virginity to Ray, Jessa ran off with new-husband Thomas-John, Marnie was making out with a weird dude while Charlie looked on and Hannah was getting called a monster by a nearly-flattened Adam. So how have things changed since then?
Change is a considerable theme in the show, as is the lack of it—and this season wastes no time in driving that home. We see quickly just how different things have become. Hannah wakes up in bed with Elijah (the delicious Andrew Rannells, who is adorable on The New Normal) but he clarifies—“I’m sorry I have a boner. It’s not for you”—before we even have a chance to wonder why Hannah is sleeping with her gay ex-boyfriend. They are roommates now! Marnie is literally so last season; instead, Hannah suggests that they share the bed and use the extra bedroom as a home gym. I tried this once with a yoga/meditation studio, so I will weigh in: honey, you won’t work out at home. You’ll just develop the uncanny ability to sit for hours on a stationary bike without losing all feeling in your ass while watching Bravo reruns. Don’t even bother.
Later, in every Community fan’s sexy sex fantasy, Hannah is doing the dirty with new squeeze Sandy, played by the always-dreamy Donald Glover. When we catch up with them at Spoonbill & Sugartown Books (I always call it Bed Knobs and Broomsticks) in Williamsburg, Hannah freaks out after Sandy says he loves hanging out with her. The L-word, in all forms, is apparently forbidden—Hannah says she’s dated too many “dementos and slugs and weirdos” and that she just wants to change the way she goes about her relationships. But like Hannah’s home gym, this resolution is apparently short lived. We quickly find her in Adam’s bed, watching a bad Bollywood movie and tending to his many injuries. His entire leg is in a cast, and Hannah dutifully plays chambermaid with his chamber pot. If that’s not an admission of love, I don’t know what is; yet Hannah keeps resisting Adam’s affections. He says, “you’re my main hang,” but when the two wake up the next morning, I get the feeling we’re in for an authentic television LOVE TRIANGLE. My suspicions are confirmed when the episode ends with Hannah collapsing on Sandy’s bed (“Can I borrow The Fountainhead?” is a particularly good booty call line) after a late night. Buckle your seat belts Millennials—things are about to get a whole lot more Twilight up in here. Are you team Adam or Sandy?
Meanwhile, Marnie gets “downsized” from her job and has to sit through a depressing lunch with her cougar mother, played by Rita Wilson, who you might know from that one Law & Order: SVU episode “Delinquent.” The tables have really turned for Marnie this season—she’s single, she’s unemployed and she generally feels crappy about herself. Even her mom is trying to get her to cheer up and let loose—she says, “Sometimes all you need is a pair of rough hands on your body.” Preach, Rita Wilson, preach.
It’s easier said than done. Marnie quickly runs into Charlie at Hannah and Elijah’s party, where he is acting clingy to still-girlfriend (and potentially most accurate Brooklyn stereotype. Exhibit A. “I’m just not stoned enough to do this”) Audrey. He tries to tell Marnie how well things are going by describing how many new things Audrey has to say every day. I’m sure her brilliant thoughts are as numerous as her strange headbands. A few drinks later, Marnie is drunkenly singing “Building a Mystery” on the house karaoke machine while Elijah looks on. He briefly pines for her Disney princess-type sensuality, and the two try and ultimately fail to successfully bang, even though both Lisa Rinna and Allison Janney give Elijah erections all the time. After he dejectedly rolls off of her, Elijah says to Marnie, “You know, you really don’t have to try to be anything that you’re not,” and Marnie replies, “Neither do you.” But if Marnie doesn’t have to be anything she’s not, then how will she ever get out of this Marnie-type funk? Instead of facing her problems (or maybe the opposite, depending on how things pan out) Marnie ends up at Charlie’s door looking for comfort. Some things never change.
We were told Shoshanna would be a much more fleshed out character this season, and by her opening scene, it’s looking like the powers that be will make good on their promise. While burning a smudge stick in her studio, Shosh thanks the universe for “a keen mathematical mind and fairly fast growing hair,” and then asks it to ruin Ray’s life. Well, I guess we know how that tryst turned out. Her affirmations don’t really help when Ray finally confronts her at Hannah’s party. Even though she comes in prepared (“I am ready to take this party by storm. Like, I am woman, hear me roar!” and “You hurt me but I can deal with it because I have my big girl pants on”), she eventually ends up in Ray’s arms for a passionate makeout session on top of the ritual pile of coats and purses.
Just when I thought we might miss Jessa, who is admittedly my favorite character, she pops up with half a head of cornrows and Thomas-John in tow. They skip the cab line (a capital offense) at the airport and she realizes she doesn’t even know TJ’s address. Caution still seems to be in the wind, but remember, TJ was Jessa’s strange grab at normality. Whether this major life change will take is still yet to be seen.
Overall, we get a sense that these girls are finally really trying to assert their own agency to make changes in their lives, even if those aren’t the best things to do in the long run. When Hannah turns her back on Adam for Sandy, she says, “I’m an individual and I feel how I feel when I feel it,” a line that is potentially more for her own benefit than Adam’s. That mantra really applies to everyone here, despite the fact that Hannah is the show’s emotional core. The episode is a little shaky for a premiere, but the party really unites a lot of key characters in one place without feeling too forced or demanding needless exposition. That element also generates enough energy to drive Hannah, Marnie and Shosh into taking some pretty risky chances—and accepting that yeah, maybe they’ll fail along the way, but what’s life if you don’t snort coke off of a few twinks and dance your tits out?
Until next week.