Girls: The Complete Second Season [Blu-Ray]

Girls: The Complete Second Season [Blu-Ray]
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Much like Hannah Horvath (the character she portrays on her ever Twitter-trending, overly discussed HBO series, Girls, about four female 20-somethings trying to make it in the big bad world), Lena Dunham likes to talk. As demonstrated in the "inside the episode" supplements, the New Yorker Festival interview with Emily Nussbaum, the "Guys on Girls" special feature, the commentary tracks and even the Charlie Rose interview included with the Blu-Ray box set, she has anecdotes and a self-deprecating dialogue built in and a witty retort to any comment or topic raised. Fortunately, she's quite clever, humorous and a natural charmer, even while cutting others off when they dare direct the conversation away from her work and perspectives. She's also quite self-aware, discussing the reception of the first season, noting the arbitrary and politically obnoxious observation that all four titular girls are white. Responding to that and discussing how she's learned a great deal from the many mistakes and successes of the first season, she deliberately avoids connecting the dots leading to the beginning of season two, where her neurotic, struggling writer character is dating Sandy (Donald Glover), a character that conveniently isn't white. Again, while this bid to derail the hyperbolic online babble about racism was obvious, Dunham and her writing team managed to hit it out of the park, featuring a break-up monologue as unintentionally racist and discomforting as the AIDS conversation she had with her gynaecologist early in season one. She and the team she's assembled know that the strength of Girls is in dwelling in discomforting, embarrassing and ridiculous moments where educated, but emotionally inconsistent people stick their foot in their mouth or do something stupid while trying to be someone they aren't or are trying to experience life in a socially obligatory, outrageous or conversely moral way. She gets the folly of youth and understands what draws viewers to her show. This guiding principle of sorts reaches its apex in the cocaine episode, where Hannah and her ex-boyfriend (and now gay roommate), Elijah (Andrew Rannells), do the drug to appease the publishing needs of some phoney blogger bitch that hires Hannah to write some experiential nightlife piece. Trading shirts with strangers, covered in sweat and snorting lines off a public toilet, her awkward, candid treatment of a topic that would usually have a preachy, sanctimonious vibe is absolutely hilarious and astute, capturing the sober stupidity of what a decision like that would actually look like from the outside. It also pulls double duty, strengthening the tenuous, flaky and erratic disposition of Hannah while developing her relationships with those around her. Primarily, her friendship with the controlling, proper Marnie (Allison Williams) has an adverse coldness for much of this season, playing off their mutual inability to be a good friend or possess the maturity to get away from their neuroses for long enough to listen to, or be there for, someone else. Marnie, having slightly less self-awareness than the deeply damaged Hannah, spends much of her time in a delusional, self-damaging relationship with a pretentious artist (Jorma Taccone), going down the rabbit hole to an eventual low point that, in all honesty, isn't particularly convincing. Where the second season of Girls struggles is in establishing these valleys organically and developing characters that are often peripheral to this Hannah-centric universe. Jessa (Jemima Kirke), arguably the most fascinating character, merely recognizes that her marriage to Thomas-John (Chris O'Dowd) was a passion-driven mistake, much like everything else in her life. While the dinner scene with his WASP parents is absolutely hilarious, she has little to do this season beyond smirking playfully as she allows Hannah to piss beside some train tracks in front of an elderly couple. Similarly, Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet) merely recognizes that her relationship with the much older Ray (Alex Karpovsky) is vaguely Freudian, leading her to flirt with the idea of tentative sexual exploration. It's a very slight development in psychology that doesn't do much to make her seem like less of an observed vessel for goodness. Instead of giving Jessa and Shoshanna the opportunity to become fully realized people and have a complex life of their own, an OCD plotline emerges, bringing the focus back to Hannah. Even the efforts to make Adam (Adam Driver) more of an inhabited being — Dunham also received criticism for doing a poor job of writing men — are strangely narcissistic, leading mostly to sensationalistic acts involving a Roswell star getting on all fours and receiving a fancy new pearl necklace. Still, despite having a mishmash of amazing and mediocre ideas that never completely gel, this second season of Girls possesses an abundance of memorable, hilarious and insightful moments, which is a commendable achievement. (HBO / Warner)