Wednesday, July 30, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Of 'Girls,' and boys and 'Shameless' sex

It probably says way too much about my weakness for rom-coms that I mostly enjoyed Sunday's Season 2 finale of "Girls."

Of 'Girls,' and boys and 'Shameless' sex

The cast of HBO´s "Girls" starring Lena Dunham.
The cast of HBO's "Girls" starring Lena Dunham.

SPOILER ALERT: If you haven’t yet watched the Season 2 finale of HBO’s “Girls” — or you’re behind on Showtime’s “Shameless” — please don’t read this until you’ve caught up.


It probably says way too much about my weakness for rom-coms that I mostly enjoyed Sunday’s “Girls,” in which Hannah (Lena Dunham), in the midst of an obsessive-compulsive meltdown, was literally swept off her feet by her sometimes stalkerish ex, Adam (Adam Driver).

 Even better: Marnie (Allison Williams) and Charlie (Christopher Abbott) finally admitting how they still feel about each other while leveling the too often uneven playing field between them, Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet) managing to stick the landing on her breakup with Ray (Alex Karpovsky) and Hannah’s father (Peter Scolari) finally calling b------ on her b-------.

If “Girls” were a movie, this is what happily-ever-after might look like — a feel-good(ish) ending that doesn’t stand up to closer examination.

More coverage
 
Slick, scripted shows on the web are stealing buzz
 
Watch ex-Philly mobster John Veasey on '60 Minutes'

It’s not, of course, and when the show returns next year, closer examination’s bound to screw most of these situations up in ways that will continue to annoy people who seemingly only watch to be annoyed.

OK, so I, too, thought the episode in which Hannah hooked up with the hot-doctor-with-the-brownstone (Patrick Wilson) was pretty bad, leading me to wonder if Dunham had gone to the Denis Leary School of TV Writing. (Remember how Leary’s “Rescue Me” character always had hot women falling at his feet, even when he could barely stand up, he was so drunk? That’s what you get to do when you’re the producer and the star. Even Tina Fey gave herself a pretty hot husband toward the end of “30 Rock.” Not that Liz Lemon didn’t deserve one.)

I’m also suspicious that the “e-book” Hannah’s been commissioned to write would come with enough of an advance to cause a problem (unlike the $3.7 million book deal Dunham reportedly has with Random House).

But overall, I’ve been pleased with “Girls’” second season, which, as an editor of mine pointed out this morning, revealed Hannah to be actually a bit broken, not just a selfish stand-in for millennials everywhere.

She’s not the voice of her generation, or “a generation.” She’s Hannah, and she has a few issues. What’s more, we can now look back to Season 1 and realize she’s had them all along.

And while I sometimes thought the humiliation of Marnie went a bit too far — I’d probably have stopped before she started singing — it did a lot to kill the aftertaste of the way she treated Charlie when we first met them.

Adam, who might in some ways be the most believable person in the show, continues to grow on me, stuck as he is in sexual role-playing that not every woman he meets is going to be up for. Porn's probably limited a lot of guys' options. (And maybe "50 Shades of Grey" has reopened some?)

I loved how Shiri Appleby’s Natalia on Sunday took him through the women’s magazine script of how-to-get-what-you-want-in-bed and how useless that proved to be, even as it gave her back any dignity she might have lost in that earlier episode that seemed to shock so many people.

Maybe I’d have been more shocked if I weren’t already a much bigger fan of Showtime’s “Shameless,” a show watched by more  people  that seems to generate only half the buzz, despite plot points that recently included a man trying to impregnate his own mother-in-law — the old-fashioned way — and more teen sex than “Skins” ever dreamed of.

 If I continue to prefer “Shameless” to “Girls,” it’s not so much for the sex as it is for the sheer exuberance of its characters, who for the most part have problems bigger than Hannah’s and who still mostly manage to pull themselves out of bed every day.

Even if they don’t always make it out of there fully dressed.

Ellen Gray Daily News TV Critic
About this blog
As the TV critic for the Philadelphia Daily News, I've always believed my job is less about thumbs -- up or down -- and more about the conversation. Because the more choices we have, the fewer people in our lives know what we're talking about when we say, "Did you see that?" And that's when television really starts to get interesting.

Ellen Gray Daily News TV Critic
Latest Videos:
Also on Philly.com:
Stay Connected