Girls Season 5, Episode 2

Leandra and Mattie email back and forth to recap


Leandra Medine wrote:

Three important points, take them in whichever direction you feel most comfortable:

1. In spite of the fact that I spent the majority of this episode wondering if anything even happened, a seminal experience, which I think all kids go through once they get old enough, started to unravel in the 23rd hour — that very vulnerable, awkward and somewhat heartbreaking shift in dynamic wherein you’re no longer your parents’ kid anymore. Instead you’re their peer. A column to lean on. And once you lose your place as like, the engine under their hood, you never get to take it back. I feel for Hannah.

2. Something else to think about: Why is the physicality piece of a relationship so important? Adam and Jessa decided they’d be together without touching and what that meant was masturbating on opposite ends of the same couch? Feels grisly. I ask this partially as an observant Jew who has been exposed to plenty of couples who have successfully abstained from intimacy until marriage, which is something I myself don’t feel like I could do, but can sort of understand. Human connection — our everlasting pursuit! — doesn’t actually require physical touch, I don’t think. Have we conditioned ourselves to believe that it does? Maybe I’m wrong.

3. Elijah wins this episode!

Mattie Kahn wrote:

So much to “unpack” here. Where even to start? I think you kicked it off well. What interests me is that Hannah plays at least two parts for her parents in this episode — peer, yes, but also eternal, devoted child.

Don’t we all try to explain to our parents how it is these days? Aren’t we all trying to help them muddle through a modern world that is at least somewhat unfamiliar to them? For my parents, Broad City-isms require biblical exegesis. For Tad Horvath, purple couches and small New York City apartments demand some kind of liturgical gloss.

My sister tried to parse “YAAAAAASS KWEEN!” for my mom last week. It was interesting.

I think we’re always on this mission to mend our parents’ broken hearts and to protect them from harm. We shouldn’t do it, at least not to the extent that so many people do. But we can’t resist. We want to save them. We love them. And, frankly, we can never pay back the debt we owe to them.

Even our selfish Hannah, who wants to prep eighth graders for the abuse they will suffer at the hands of insecure Jewish men*, sets aside her own needs for, like, four seconds to be there for Tad. From pledging her allegiance to an old, if awful, friend, to doing her best to coach her dad through this, she’s doubling down on the relationships in her world. She’s trying so hard to make them work.

Which is why:

A. I feel something bad is going to happen with Fran. But what could it be. Predictions?

B. I hate Jessa and Adam even more for doing this to her and for fooling themselves into thinking that they’re either somehow being kinder to her or delaying the inevitable by going about it the way they are. Adorable, old-timey amusement parks are not safe places for star-crossed lovers! Period!

P.S. Marnie? Didn’t miss her.

*Not all bad. Not all bad.

Leandra Medine wrote:

I wondered where Marnie went! Is she married? Is this it? What happened with her makeup?

Re: Adam and Jessa, I don’t know why I don’t feel bad for Hannah at all. Adam feels more like a pawn than a person these days and the relationship he had with Hannah, I guess, now feels extremely generic given that I can barely remember what was tender between them. I don’t care for this combo platter, though the combination of destructive Jessa with been-on-a-journey Adam works intellectually, but I am still frustrated/not amused by the solitary masturbation.

Fran reminds me of every great romantic partner I have ever known – among my friends and also with myself. He’s a solid, stand up and straight (philosophically speaking) guy who is probably enthralled by the vicissitudes of Hannah’s personality and I’d hope she’s relieved by his groundedness but would not be surprised if self destructive woman of the L-train that she is, she finds a flaw in the only equilibrium on offer in her life

Lastly: Gaby Hoffman’s baby? Super cute.

Mattie Kahn wrote:

I mean, Marnie must be married. Were Marnie not the woman in this scenario, it would depress me that the show seems to cast wedded bliss as some kind of social exile. Beware! If you get married, you *may* disappear. But because we are talking about Marnie, I don’t care at all. Go forth. Frolic in the woods with your husband! No one misses you! Not even Ray.

But, anyway, it’s not like my heart aches for Hannah, per se. It’s more that it’s not entirely obvious to me what Adam and Jessa are fighting for here. It seems like quite a shitty move to make, if you’re not even sure what you’re going to get out of it.

Do you think Jessa really loves Adam, or are they both just, for each other at this moment, fresh addictions? Not to read too deeply into it, but isn’t Jessa always going to put her own pleasure first? Hasn’t she always done that? Do you think she’s maybe fooled herself into thinking that because she’s getting herself off she doesn’t need Adam or anyone, really? Even though, duh, it looks ridiculous to anyone watching this scene unfold? Sure, maybe it’s possible to forge a romantic relationship without ever laying hands on another person. But is side-by-side solo masturbation the best way for anyone to connect? To learn what a partner wants and needs? Whether they let themselves lock eyes or not, it doesn’t seem like it.

You’ve probably read the same statistic I have: millennials are having less sex because they spend more time on their phones. It’s a gruesome fact. (Although maybe it saves us heartbreak? What do I know?) But it makes me think that maybe the problem is that we’re used to getting intimate through the glow of screens. Or across from each other on couches. It can’t be good.

Leandra Medine wrote:

Yes! It is absolutely fresh addiction for both Adam and Jessa. And it could wear thin the moment it doesn’t feel illicit anymore. But maybe it won’t? Two wrongs might actually make a right for them. It’s like when they give you drugs to get over the drugs, or whatever. Maybe it’s not wrong at all! Don’t they make sense intellectually to you? At what point does the fact that your friend dated someone who might be perfect for you stop mattering? There is no question that a shit storm will ensue when Hannah finds out. Can the dust settle?

Should it even matter assuming she does not fuck up her relationship with the very stable Fran? He reminds me of Abie. I like him so much.

And hey! Now that you mentioned Ray, should we spend more time expounding upon how definitively crucial he is for the flow of the success of this show? His character is so curmudgeonly but also oracle-level intelligent that he is an integral piece of what makes watching this show worth it. This is starting to feel true of Elijah too (and the combination of them? Excellent!) but in a different way. He’s the bitch you don’t empathize with but feel guiltily-satisfied watching, whereas Ray is all of us, in some ways. Do you see that?

Mattie Kahn wrote:

Well! Here is a quagmire that I know MR readers — and women everywhere — have feelings about. What are the rules about hooking up with a close friend’s (long-term) ex? Is there some kind of emotional statute of limitations? When I think about my closest friends’ ex-boyfriends, I am pretty sure they’re off-limits indefinitely, ’til death do us all part. And it’s never been a real issue for me. But if it had ever somehow become one, what would I have done? Would I have acted on it and begged forgiveness? Addressed it before it happened? If Hannah is happy and they are broken up, shouldn’t Adam decide his own happiness? Or, does he have to continue to play by the rules, too?

Fran! Should we make team t-shirts? I love that he calls her “buddy.” I didn’t think I would like it, but I doooooo! Plus, I implicitly trust men whose names are perceived to be feminine. It makes me feel like they weathered a lot on the playground and can handle themselves in any situation.

Ray! Make America Ray Again! Sure, was he insensitive in the font cafe? Yes. Is it wrong to make gendered assumptions about people based on appearances? Absolutely. But what Ray knows and seems to have grasped better than anyone else on this show is when to take a stand and when to exit a scene. He relinquished Marnie. He walked out when he knew a white man had to go. But I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that he will have this lid battle out, so help him!

When I think about my twenties and what I need to learn, this is near the top of the list: When do you speak up about lids and san-serif fonts? When do you just let go?

Leandra Medine wrote:

The lids are a metaphor for the millennial experience. Because here we’ve been taught that every jar — or coffee cup — has its lid but behold, we are now being untaught that aphorism and re-educating ourselves to believe that a cup can simply be a cup. The barista (Lena Dunham’s sister!) is living proof of that.

I’d have loved to wrap my comment on that point but must reply to at least a portion of your initial questions: as a married person, I find it completely unacceptable to try to maintain ownership over ex-boyfriends and flings. There is absolutely a point where you throw in the towel, stop acting so selfish and refuse to stand in the way of not just regular people’s happiness, which you shouldn’t stand in the way of anyway, but your FRIENDS’ happiness — your friends who, when you sing “Wonderwall” while naked in a bath together are supposed to feel more like appendages on your person than simply separate people. I’ll leave the other questions for the brilliant minds that populate the MR commenting forum to address.

Mattie Kahn wrote:

Cups and Lids: The Story of Tinder, Consciousness and Learning to Love Ourselves on Our Own Steamy Terms

Who’s going to publish our best-seller? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Follow Girls whiz and author Mattie on Twitter @mattiekahn; photograph via Craig Blankenhorn/HBO.


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  • Aggie

    I totally agree with the fact that I didn’t really see anything happening in this episode BUT I did feel horrified (and I honestly couldn’t look at the screen) during the masturbation scene. I already said it once here but what I liked about Girls the most was the raw dialogue and intelligence behind it. Now I honestly cannot stand their obsession with nudity and sex-related scenes: maybe I still live in a bubble but those characters are supposed to be in their mid-twenties not horny 16 year olds right? Same for the audience (at least me) and I feel let down on the content, I hope they’ll move on from this…And I missed Marnie actually BUT hellooo? Did anyone realize that Shosh wasn’t in this episode?

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      • Leandra Medine

        Show off

    • cнeerғυl ❤ ғoodιe

      My husband and I are in our 30s and still on occasion masturbate together in the way they did on girls. It’s an incredible connection. Sex is so embodying, empowering, and such an important part of our adult lives. I think it would be more odd if a show about women in their 20s didn’t show things like this.

      • Aydan

        def agree with this! The amount to which sex/sexual take precedence in our lives is clearly a personal thing, but to show it in all of its different forms and varieties (or at least begin to touch the spectrum) in girls is definitely relevant and representative of the greater world at large!

      • Aggie

        Oh I do agree with the truth of the scene and why it should be mentioned in shows like this! Let me rephrase this: the episode is only 20mins long and within that time I saw Hannah completely naked (yet again), Adam’s sister’s boobs (and no I don’t have a problem with breast feeding) and then the masturbation scene… I’ve always loved Girls but I don’t know I guess I was hoping for a bit more ‘interesting’ content those scenes are getting old in my opinion.

    • Mariana

      I agree with you. I wasn’t horrified about the masturbation scene because it’s Girls and I think I have seen everything there, but I was “Ok…this is kind off ridiculous”, not the masturbation itself, but the fact that it was not ok for them to hooked up because of Hannah, but masturbation side by side was accepted (wtf? If I didn’t want my friend to have sex with my ex-boyfriend, I wouldn’t be very pleased about them masturbating in the same couch either).
      I really miss the dialogue like you said, that always made my reflect about my own life and I could some way relate to it, but now I think some characters and some scenes are getting too unrealistic. I hope the next episodes change my opinion 🙂

  • Danielle

    I did not miss Marnie. I did miss Shosh. I think Adam and Jessa are a great fit, but if Hannah has any feelings left for him at all, this would not be cool. I am really weird about dating friends ex’s and I actually have a friend who has dated a few of mine. Like, her last two relationships (and her current) are with people I dated. I didn’t care because they were not long term, and I am the one who ended it, but there are situations where I would not approve. She also did not ask for my opinion before moving forward, so that’s the only thing that didn’t sit well with me. I think it’s all in how you handle it. Jessa and Adam are not handling it the way they should.
    Great episode though!

  • cнeerғυl ❤ ғoodιe

    I hate hate hate the Jessa / Adam thing. Seriously. They’re both terrible friends to Hannah and unless the writing will dramatically change their personalities this season, they’re horrible together as a couple. Their personalities would clash way too much to go beyond anything more than sexual. And a sexual relationship is never worth destroying great friendships over. But! That’s just my 2 cents. Lol

  • Hannah Purcell

    to be honest I think the masturbation scene would have worked better if they were in different places and maybe still texting about the whole we cant be together but we both know we will because were both idiots or if it occurred in a phone conversation during? At least it would give the illusion of there being a bit more thought to the story line as opposed to the cliche of that they’re doing something bad oh we cant be together but we want to. which would make it more enjoyable to watch.

  • Shelly



  • I think there is a statute of limitations on dating friends’ long term exs, but I don’t think Hannah and Adam have hit that statute yet, especially since at the end of the last season Adam professed his undying love to Hannah.
    PS I’ve said it before, but I love your GIRLS recaps. So glad they’re back for the new season!!

  • Zsofie

    Leandra, I love your cup/lid-millennials observation! and i’m loving the recaps like this!

  • “You’ve probably read the same statistic I have: millennials are having less sex because they spend more time on their phones.”

    With all this talk about how Girls depicts 20-something life, particularly in NYC, no one is pointing out the lack of cell phone use on this show. No online dating, no discussion of mysogyny and sexual harassment on Ok Cupid, no scenes of people standing in a circle texting on their iPhones.

    “But what Ray knows and seems to have grasped better than anyone else on this show is when to take a stand and when to exit a scene. He relinquished Marnie. He walked out when he knew a white man had to go”

    This made my laugh out loud at work