Spoiler Alert! Do not read on if you have not seen Season 3, espisodes 1 and 2 of HBO's Girls, titled "Females Only" and "Truth or Dare."
Girls is ultimately a show about relationships. Season 2 ended with Hannah in emotional crisis, all of her friendships having eroded or splintered away, with only Adam to save her at the very end. She had written just one line in her book, revealed when the camera zooms in on her computer desktop during one of her OCD trolls of WebMD.com. It read: "A friendship between college girls is grander and more dramatic than any romance…" Though the girls aren't in college (except Shosh, who graduates soon), the idea behind that sentence casts a shadow into season 3, so let's take a look at the main relationships in the first two episodes, which aired Sunday night.
HANNAH AND ADAM
In the several months that have passed since last season, Hannah (Lena Dunham) and Adam (Adam Driver) have skyrocketed to new levels of maturity. They enjoy loving sex (maximal grunting, minimal "whore" talk); they affectionately greet each other in public like people who have loving sex do; and they spend a lot of time caring for Hannah's polar vortex of friends—grand and dramatic, indeed. Natalia (Shiri Appleby) runs into the happy couple at the coffeeshop and calls Adam an "off-the-wagon, Neanderthal, sex-addict sociopath." But he has turned out to be a pretty selfless, steady boyfriend to Hannah. He gives her OCD pills, makes sure she eats enough protein, and chants to calm her down, as Hannah proudly tells her therapist. Even more surprising, he agrees to help pick up Jessa from rehab, which involves an overnight roadtrip in a rented Ford with Shosh in the backseat. How things have changed since the Phil Spector haircut of yore!
HANNAH AND JESSA
Jessa (Jemima Kirke) is owning the season so far. She's walking a fine line between being the best character to hate-watch on television and being so despicable she's unwatchable. She has gone from being a droll beauty to an unredeemable asshole—even Walter White had worthier attributes. She belittles everyone in rehab, where she's been these few months, particularly Laura (the fabulous Danielle Brooks, whom you might know as Taystee from Orange is the New Black). Jessa says Laura "whines" about being molested as a child, and that she's a lesbian in denial, which sends a group therapy session into chaos. ("Everything is ruined!" someone shouts in the background. Subtle lines like that are part of Girls' sharpness.) Jessa later apologizes—and goes down on Laura, which gets her booted from rehab. (I wonder when Girls will feature a same-sex relationship as part of the regular storyline—too Samantha, SATC season 4?) Suffice it to say, Hannah to the rescue. When Adam questions Hannah showing up for Jessa—whether it's good for either girl—Hannah says, "I don't think you understand the nature of female friendship." I'm starting to question whether I understand myself, when all Jessa does is blithely take, take, take. As Dr. Sterns (Debra Monk) asks Jessa when she kicks her out, "Are you a sociopath? Are you a Method actor researching a role?"
THE SOCIOPATHS AND EACH OTHER
That's two, count 'em, "sociopaths" for the evening. (Many have suspected Hannah of being one, too.) But where Jessa would probably score off the charts on the Hare Psychopathy Checklist, Adam seems driven by mostly a desire to help other people, especially Hannah. And he's not a manipulator—he states what he wants plainly, often to his own detriment. (What Jessa and Adam do have in common are grandmothers who apparently foot their millennial bills.) I'd nominate Marnie for the sociopath silver medal. And "comic foil" won't appear in the DSM, but that's how you might diagnose Shosh, whose zaniness really needs Ray's substance for realism and balance. That said, if we are judging the strength of friendships based on physical there-ness and the ability to jam to Maroon 5, Shosh is a good one to Hannah.
MARNIE AND HER EGO
Rita Wilson returns as Evie, the ombre-feathered-bangs-having, matching-Ethan Allen-dining-set-loving mother of Marnie, who is in a deep funk after getting dumped by Charlie. Christopher Abbot, the actor who played Charlie, quit Girls after season 2, and I'm glad Dunham and the producers chose a breakup instead of death—the show is existential enough, and I'm not sure we could handle a more wallowing version of Marnie. Paging Booth Jonathan.
What did you think of the episodes? Sound off in the comments below!