"Girls" Recap/Review: "Role-Play"

Leah Zeffren ‘17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

Lena Dunham and Adam Driver in the Girls episode "Role-Play." Photo Credit: HBO.
Lena Dunham and Adam Driver in the Girls episode “Role-Play.” Photo Credit: HBO.

From the very start of this week’s episode, “Role-Play,” it starts to become clear that Adam (Adam Driver) is going to drift away from Hannah (Lena Dunham).

As he gets more caught up in his Broadway career, Hannah does everything in her power to gain back his attention. She tries to worry him about her sleeping at a male co-worker’s apartment after getting too drunk the previous night (to which he responds with absolutely no jealousy nor concern.) She tries to thoroughly wash herself, getting “SO clean” for him, (a circumstance that is apparently a bonus and not a given for her). She tries to seduce him out of reading a distracting book, but her sexual efforts are to no avail (he’d rather not get sticky before rehearsal).

She even resorts to arranging a night of role-play to spice up their sex life, which ends up confusing him. She blindsides Adam with the surprise of a new identity, and he never quite seems to get the hang of when to play along. At times she’s excessively committed to the role-play, giving a convincing enough performance to provoke a total stranger into defensively punching Adam for sexually harassing her. There are also times when she is forced to break character. In one such scene, Hannah struggles to seductively swallow a whole strawberry with “the green part” attached, before finally snapping at him that it’s VERY hard to do.

At a certain point viewers just knew the relationship was doomed to fall apart due to how desperately Hannah now had to try to keep it together. Even with this foresight, it still came as a shock when Adam abruptly blurted out that he could no longer live at home with her drama. He tells her that he had already made plans to stay with Ray (Alex Karpovsky) throughout play rehearsals.

What seems to hurt Hannah most of all, however, is the way Adam inadvertently compares her writing career to worthless drivel. As he gains more respect for his own job, he starts to notice the flaws in hers, reducing her material to “stories on Twitter.” Although Hannah sees herself as the serious writer she ultimately aspires to be, Adam lets it slip that he only sees her for the frivolous writer that she currently is.

Adam tries to leave her with a parting kiss, but Hannah pushes his reassurance away. He leaves her sitting alone and dejected, processing the possibility that her relationship is most likely going to die.

Lena Dunham and Adam Driver in the Girls episode "Role-Play." Photo Credit: HBO.
Lena Dunham and Adam Driver in the Girls episode “Role-Play.” Photo Credit: HBO.

While their conversation itself managed to maintain a perfect balance of earnestness, poignancy, tragedy and truth, it still felt as if it came too soon in the season. Even though it had become clear that their relationship was starting to fizzle, the show should have spent at least another episode exhibiting Adam’s passive aggression and neglect before having him act on the final concrete decision of leaving the apartment. It all just felt very rushed and sudden, and like Hannah, the viewers could have been better prepared. With two episodes left this season, here’s to hoping that their relationship’s breaking point was rushed to make way for a clear and natural resolve.

Meanwhile, seeing as her character’s storyline was so lacking this season, it was nice to finally watch Shoshana (Zosia Mamet) have something to do this week. However, it didn’t really seem plausible that she’d suddenly become so invested in helping Jasper (Richard E. Grant) piece back together his relationship with his daughter, Dot (Felicity Jones). It especially seemed excessive when Shosh went through the trouble of researching all of her incredibly inspirational attributes (i.e., Dot’s dating an Egyptian so she’s like, super knowledgeable about what’s going on there).

While Jessa’s (Jemima Kirke) part is mostly dull throughout the scene, there are still some sassy moments sprinkled in the episode to remind the viewers why they love her—for instance, when Dot acts disgusted at how young Jessa is to be hanging around a man of Jasper’s age, without missing a beat, Jessa lazily retorts, “I am 47 years old and I deserve a little more respect.”

Though Shosh’s meddling ends up reconciling Jasper and his daughter, it also means that he will be forced to part with Jessa and her toxic influence, leaving Shosh to take care of her. (Shosh reacts hilariously at this realization, nervously avoiding eye contact and acceptance of the responsibility.)

Zosia Mamet in the Girls episode "Role-Play." Photo Credit: HBO.
Zosia Mamet in the Girls episode “Role-Play.” Photo Credit: HBO.

Although Shosh is not thrilled at the prospect, it will do the show some good to provide her and Jessa with a more purposeful storyline at the forefront of its plot. It’s about time that two of the most entertaining and quotable characters of the show are given more things to talk about.

Lastly, even though Marnie (Allison Williams) snags the least amount of screen time this week, the time she does have somehow feels like it incorporates the most productive arc of the episode. All of her scenes seem to naturally progress towards future opportunities. Her songwriting session with Desi (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) leaves a potential relationship and/or musical collaboration in the works while her offer to help her humble-bragging friend, Soojin (Greta Lee) open up a gallery might prove to get her a spot back in the art world (albeit, going from an aspiring curator to gallery assistant is a bit of a downgrade.)

Overall, this week’s episode moved each of its characters out of their former plot lines and opened them up to more eventful possibilities. Hopefully the season’s remaining two episodes will do a better job at elaborating just what those possibilities might be.

Overall Grade: B-


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