By Shreya Durvasula
Ahh it's back. Are you ready for incessant Lena Dunham media coverage? Ready for body-snarking articles, the subsequent backlash, and the backlash against that? The (deserved) criticism of the depiction of a lily-white Brooklyn? Whether you're ready or not, Girls is back on your presumably privileged screens. The first two episodes aired Sunday without much fanfare and established what's been happening with Hannah and the gang over the last few...weeks?
It's unclear how much time has passed, but enough time that Shoshanna is a few months out from graduating from the sweet, protected bubble of NYU into the "real world". Jessa is a caged animal in rehab, lashing out with vitriol in an almost textbook fashion. Marnie is….Marnie. The appearance of Rita Wilson as her mother teases us with the possibility of filling in some much needed back story on Marnie, and hopefully we’ll get an explanation re: Rainbow Brite sheets. And Hannah? Hannah is doing just fine, being fed her pills, eating chocolate cups, and gathering life experiences for her novel. Not much seems to happen in these two episodes; Hannah, Adam, and Shoshanna pick up Jessa from rehab ; Marnie is blandly pretty and commutes from her mom’s house; Ray is still Ray. There’s a sense, however, that seismic shifts are yet to come.
Hannah: That's so sad.
Ray: Why? Because we once shared true and stunning intimacies and now we're nothing more than strangers?
Ray: That's not sad, Hannah, that's called life, okay. Everything dies.
Hannah and Ray are talking about his relationship with Shoshanna, but they could easily be talking about friendships in our twenties instead. As our malleable 20-something selves harden into the 30 (or 40)-something adults we will become, friends, alternate careers,and questionable fashion/music/literature choices fall to the wayside. The period of accelerated growth slows to a crawl, and you start surrounding yourself with like-minded people. Without the artificial constraint of geography, high school and college friends are only as important as you let them be.
Early in the first episode, Adam and Hannah argue about having her friends over for dinner, a seemingly innocuous couples’ tiff.
Adam: I don’t hate your friends, I’m not interested in anything they have to say.
Hannah: I’m not interested in anything they have to say, that’s not the point of friendship! And earlier, Natalia was saying..
Adam: Are you really going to bring up what Natalia said?
Hannah: I’m sorry, I’m sorry okay, we just need some shared experiences.
Adam: Well, I’m not going to change into a different person just because you want me to.
Hannah: You have to, it’s called being in a relationship!
Adam: So you say.
Hannah makes some sweeping statements about the nature of relationships, indicating that while she may not be a fully formed adult yet (in any sense of the word, really), she thinks these are the indicators of adulthood. Having dinner parties, having shared experiences with your partner etc. Never mind that you don’t get along with your friends, or that your partner is miserable during it. I’m an adult with a book deal, and I want to throw this dinner party.
What Girls captures so well is the juxtaposition of the rigidity of expectations against the fluidity of friendships, especially during the transition and tumultuousness of your 20's. How many friends out of obligation, history, or habit do you have? Jessa will be never be a good friend in the traditional sense, but she fills a specific need for Hannah. If and when Hannah doesn't have that need anymore, will Jessa survive the friend purge of the late 20's? Season 2 saw Hannah and Marnie not just grow apart, but defiantly push each other way. I’m looking forward to seeing what brought them back together. As we get older, and more Things demand our attention, we hope that these obligatory friends fade out of view. “Self-discovery gives way to self-knowledge, so you become pickier about whom you surround yourself with, said Marla Paul, the author of the 2004 book “The Friendship Crisis: Finding, Making, and Keeping Friends When You’re Not a Kid Anymore.”
But in our twenties (and beyond, probably) we’re afraid of being alone, and we’re afraid of not being loved, and these people supposedly cared for us at one point. We've also been told that the older we get, the harder it is to make new friends. So even though you secretly mock your friends' gender reveal parties, and can’t stand their significant other, and dislike how political/religious/ traditional they've become, you’ll still get a drink with them and maybe tell that story about skinny dipping after prom or bear-themed birthday parties. Breaking up gracefully with friends might be the hardest part of your twenties. Given everything with know about Hannah and her friends, it will be cringe worthy, awkward, and devastating.