I finished season 2 of Girls a week or two ago but haven’t had much time or energy to sit and write thoughtfully about it. As it turns out though, I’ll probably wind up writing about Lena Dunham and Rebel Wilson in my conclusion as forerunners of future trends in fat female celebrity, so I’ll definitely be giving the series and the star some more careful consideration over the next year. However, before I lose all insights, here’s some impressionistic residue left over from this initial screening of the second season.
-Overall I was underwhelmed by the second season, to the point that I missed the provocation of the first.
-I also remain unimpressed with the show’s plotting and characterization. Even if it’s provocativeness feels blunted, it’s still a problem when the series relies so much on shocking audiences and jerking characters around to compel interest and drive the narrative.
-I realize that Dunham does these things to deliberately toy with expectations, including incorporating stock elements like the season finale reunion between two of the main couples, but from my production teacher perspective, it suggests a basic lack of imagination at the very least.
-However, this doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy parts. I still tend to enjoy just parts though, not whole episodes, only moments. Jessa’s breakdown in the tub after the end of her marriage comes to mind as one of those unexpected but illuminating times (albeit, still couched in another one of those inexplicable two-girls-one-tub moments that are so bizarre I can’t even).
-The moments to which I most looked forward wound up being those between Ray and Shoshanna. I would never have predicted that from last season. Firstly, I would argue that Zosia Mamet’s performance has made Shoshanna the show’s best drawn lead character. Secondly, maybe it’s our grad student connection, but Ray seems to be the character for whom I have the most empathy. Because he’s the oldest? Because he has some kind of authority role? Because he makes himself so vulnerable with Shoshanna? Whatever the reason, this was the couple in which I found myself most invested. That said, the fact that the men are so often more likable and empathetic than the women on the show, and that the next season is supposed to have more male than female writers, remains an issue.
-However, there was one episode that I liked so much I would argue it not just for best of season but best of series. “One Man’s Trash” was brilliant. The controversy around the pairing between Patrick Wilson and Lena Dunham only enriched it, at least for me and my research.
-As much as I loved “One Man’s Trash,” one of my main concerns with the series generally is that the valorization of Dunham’s fat naked body is used to deflect the many legitimate criticisms about the show’s lack of diversity from both seasons. Donald Glover’s two episode arc had little impact on the season and solved nothing.