Just as the second season of the hit series “Girls” premiered on HBO, it snagged two Golden Globes: one for Best Television Series — Comedy or Musical and the other awarded to writer/producer/director/actor Lena Dunham for Best Performance by Actress in a Television Series — Comedy or Musical. For anyone who missed last season, the show focuses on four 20-something girls living in Brooklyn. While the Golden Globes have solidified the program’s critical success, the characters have not been so lucky, as they are still hanging in a state of limbo since last season’s finale. But this season is still worth a watch.
As an avid viewer of “Girls,” I had hoped that each of the four main characters would have used the past few months to get their respective acts together, but as the second season gets underway, it’s clear that not only are these girls’ problems unresolved, they are even more complicated than before. Each is trapped in a web of uncertainty, caught between prickly old problems while fearing what new uncertainties might lurk in the future.
Hannah is thrilled with a new romance but is still entangled in a complicated relationship with ex-boyfriend Adam, who was last seen getting hit by a truck as Hannah broke up with him at the end of the first season. Out of guilt, Hannah takes care of him, but Adam — and even Hannah — will not move past their old feelings for each other, no matter how dysfunctional they have become.
Shoshanna finally lost her virginity to the flirtatious coffee-shop owner Ray in the previous season, and while she may say that being deflowered is not the same as being devalued, she is far more insecure, especially in light of Ray’s sudden distance from her. Her anger and uncertainty leads to a repeat seduction from Ray, even though she makes it quite clear that she does not like him, and it’s entirely possible that she’s setting herself up for yet another “devaluation.”
Jessa only appears in the episode at the very end with her new husband, arriving at the airport presumably from their honeymoon. Clearly, her situation is too complex to address in one 30-minute episode.
While all of the girls are struggling, Marnie seems to have the weakest grasp of who she is. The girl who, at one point, had everything now finds herself without a job, boyfriend or roommate. Her lingering feelings for former love Charlie and her distancing friendship with Hannah leave her so desperate that she even attempts to sleep with Elijah, Hannah’s gay ex-boyfriend. When the attempt fails, Marnie tells him that he does not have to try to be anything he’s not, and he retorts that she doesn’t either. These words manage to sum up the entire episode. Each girl’s actions show that none of them have any firmer grasp on who they are.
Midway through the show, I had trouble remembering why I was a fan of “Girls.” It was bleaker and missing the familiar spark — until a moment between Hannah and Elijah while they prepare for their party jogged my memory. The old humor and quirky personalities appeared, but unfortunately, it faded just as quickly. The events of the past season left each girl in a malaise — full of frustration, angst and heartache.
While the premiere of the second season did little to tie up any loose ends, it did show that Dunham is determined to take her quirky comedy in a new, and perhaps more meaningful, direction. We can only hope that as the season progresses, she can do so in the laugh-out-loud-funny style that made the first season so entertaining.