Girls: Season Three

Girls: Season Three
Throughout the first two seasons of Girls, Lena Dunham and team were often resorting to shock tactics in a bid for attention. Though inadvertent, it was actually a thematically apropos strategy, considering that outrageous posturing is an inherently youthful mode of identity performance (something that Hannah Horvath would do in a bid for validation). And while it occasionally made for hilariously irreverent television — Hannah telling her gynaecologist that life would be easier if she had AIDS — it often missed the mark. (See: topless ping-pong and the Shiri Appleby "pearl necklace" scene.) 
 
The third season isn't completely devoid of this tactic. Dunham's need to confront bodily image issues with perpetual nudity or shooting an entire episode in an unflattering green bikini still define the sort of "I don't give fuck, but actually I do" ethos of the series. But, the writers are making an effort to develop the characters within the status quo lexicon of mid-20s career progression malaise. Hannah, despite having an e-book on the way, still isn't grounded with her ambitions as a writer, making the mid-season compromise of taking a job at GQ magazine doing advertorial work a very identifiable life decision (just ask anyone in graphic design if that's what they had in mind when they went to art school). 
 
Similarly, Marnie's (Allison Williams) vacillating confusion about arts and arts administration, making pathetic attempts to be a singer and eventually settling on a gallery position assistant for an asshole ex-classmate, appropriately defines the harsh crushing of ideals that comes post-graduation. And acknowledging the contingent of privileged young adults that went abroad to "find" themselves (only to learn that the self is inescapable), Jessa's (Jemima Kirke) free-spirited self-indulgence comes to a head when even a stint in rehab doesn't knock some sense into her.
 
Overall, these stabs at career ambitions and perpetual compromise succeed at understanding and emulating the angst of the targeted generation. The introduction of Adam's (Adam Driver) manic sister (Gaby Hoffman) also serves the narrative effectively, giving Hannah a taste of what her outward bid for negative attention looks like when exacerbated. 
 
Still, a lot of the relationship drama is middling, and the episode written by Judd Apatow that introduces an abundance of poorly sketched characters yipping in a hospital genuinely feels like something written by an old man trying to connect with the kids. But, in a general sense, the third season demonstrates some maturity and progress for a show that's typically been more superficially entertaining than meaningful.
 
The DVD set is light on the supplements, having a few commentary tracks and "Behind the Episodes" featurettes wherein Dunham explains what's already abundantly clear.

(HBO)