'Girls' Season 2 Episode 4 Review: Dinner Parties Gone Awry

My mother called me after last week’s episode of Girls. She was concerned.

“Wait so, is that really what your life is like in your 20s?”

Before she could call the authorities and send me to rehab, I talked her down. There’s something about Girls that makes people want to judge how good it is based on how realistic they think its story lines are. I’d attribute that to good, authentic writing. But I don’t think it’s the best way to judge a show.  

While I’m not one to snort coke off a toilet or have creepy doll sex (breathe, Mom!), I do think Girls captures the emotional roller coaster that is your 20s better than anything else on TV. And if last week’s episode was the high of all highs, then last night’s show was the stomach-dropping moment when it all comes crashing down. 

Episode 4 includes two dinner parties gone terribly awry. The first is Hannah’s. She has invited both Marnie (who she totally thought wouldn’t come) and Marnie’s ex-boyfriend Charlie with Headband Girlfriend in tow. The minute Marnie walks through the door we know stuff is going to get weird and clearly one of them should leave. By all girl code standards, the one to go should be Charlie. Even if Marnie is in the doghouse for sleeping with Elijah, Hannah clearly extended an olive branch by inviting her — however insincere that gesture was.

Charlie offers to leave but Hannah, in a bad friend moment, says Marnie should be the one to go. Then, when Marnie gets out of the bathroom and offers to leave, Hannah makes everyone stay. Thank you Hannah for having the social grace of a 4-year-old and setting everyone up for the most awkward dinner ever.

Soon Shoshanna and Ray come stumbling in with “I’ve just had sex” hair and the dinner party begins. In a short period of time, we learn that using butt plugs are about the only thing Hannah won’t do (sexually speaking), Ray has been living with Shoshanna without her knowing it, and – oh yes – a catfight breaks out between Marnie and Headband Girlfriend. This culminates with Marnie crying on the roof. In what I thought was one of the more surprising scenes this episode, Charlie goes after Marnie and kisses her. 

At first I thought, “That’s funny, he seemed so happy with Headband.” But then I realized this is the classic case of a college relationship dragging on too long. Marnie and Charlie are wrong for each other and they know it, but they’re having a hard time letting go. At least Marnie leaves knowing she will never get a piece of this [Charlie pointing at his penis] ever again.

Now let’s discuss Disastrous Dinner Party #2: Jessa meeting Thomas-John’s waspy parents for the first time. I think we all knew this marriage was doomed since last season’s finale. But no one could have predicted the absolutely perfect way in which it would implode.

Jessa senses negative judgment from Thomas-John’s parents from the start. She seems to decide early on that if she’s going down, she’s going down in flames. She proceeds to say everything a girl shouldn’t when meeting the parents, and it makes for some incredible one-liners:

“I hate this restaurant and I don’t even care because I’m so excited to meet you!”

“I didn’t shoot it, I only snorted it. That’s important.” 

“I wish there was a Lord. But I know there isn’t.”

Thomas-John’s parents react to Jessa perfectly. Dad is trying to relate and clearly can’t because he’s just not cool. Mom is trying not to have a seizure and is straining her face in the process.

Back at the apartment, bad dinner becomes epic fight of the century between Jessa and Thomas-John. They are saying all the things they know will hurt each other most, which makes it the most intimate moment of their entire marriage. Jessa is right — living with her is the most interesting thing Thomas-John will ever do. But she will die full of life experiences, for better or worse. We end up feeling sorry for Thomas-John, not for having a failed marriage but for being so inherently sad and boring.

The third and final fight of the episode is also the most honest, between Shoshanna and Ray. Shoshanna is for the first time experiencing those not-so-fun emotions that come with falling in love: feeling used, insecure, and generally confused. Though she talks like a crazy Valley Girl, in many ways she is the most grounded of the four girls. And her wisdom comes out in the form of simple truths like: “You’re older than me. You should have your own place.”

I’m not going to lie, I choked up when they professed their love on the L train platform. What I can’t figure out is why this episode is called “It’s A Shame About Ray.” Any ideas? Leave it in the comments.

Episode Rating: 10 out of 10

Let’s hope the rest of the season lives up to this one’s high standards.