Margaret Wheeler Johnson: 'Girls' Episode 9. As New York book parties go, I thought this one could have been a lot worse. I also did not think it was a "center of everything" kind of party like Shoshanna did. Not that I've been to a "center of everything" party. But if I were to go, I think it would be different.
THE BOOK PARTY
Emma Gray: "This is the most S-A-T-C." -- Shosh
Margaret: See, I wasn't clear about how it was.
Lori Fradkin: I don't think it was, but I think this is the closest Shoshanna has gotten to that grown-up New York world.
Margaret: That's a good point.
Emma: Agreed. And for Hannah, it just put things in perspective for her. Tally has a book published. Hannah can't hold an office job.
Margaret: But I think there are employed people who get sent into a paroxysm of self-loathing when someone else publishes a book, especially to great fanfare.
Emma: Definitely. If I was Hannah, I probably would have been jealous also.
Margaret: Been there.
Lori: Yes, especially when the author seems to do it so effortlessly, "water-birthing" it out of her. I thought Jenny Slate was perfect for that role, by the way.
Margaret: I did not believe that Hannah would have said that Tally was lucky for having her boyfriend commit suicide. No one who went to high school in the era of political correctness is that blasé about suicide.
Lori: Except I did buy Jessa's response: "Your boyfriend should kill himself -- you deserve it."
Emma: Me too. I actually thought that it was a pretty great one-liner on Jessa's part. She was dripping with sarcasm.
Lori: But I agree -- I think it was just to emphasize the fact that Hannah would take ANY experience at this point. She's so desperate for a story -- not that she would really want it to be suicide.
Margaret: I thought it was meant to hit us over the head with her naïveté, but it didn't feel authentic.
Lori: At the same time, Tally didn't seem that broken up about the suicide either...
Lori: Which is also weird.
Margaret: Maybe she'd had plenty of "time to process." Or maybe she really is as awful as Hannah said.
Lori: Her questions to Hannah were pretty awful.
Emma: I don't think that the Tally character was meant to be authentic at all -- she was a total caricature.
Lori: "Are you still writing?" (as she walks away)
Emma: She was even more awful than Hannah.
Lori: "Do you have an agent?"
Emma: "I wanna be so skinny that people are like, 'Do you have a disease?'"
Margaret: Again, unbelievable in the age of eating disorder PSAs.
Lori: And then the comment that she hoped Hannah's boyfriend was hetero.
Margaret: This was definitely the episode of catty girl-on-girl digs.
Lori: I thought it was interesting that she'd had an interview on "Fresh Air" since Lena Dunham just had that in real life (obviously after this was taped).
Margaret: Hannah is like L.D.'s worst version of her self -- her worst-case scenario. She's made Hannah experience the worst of what could have happened.
Emma: I thought about that, too. It's interesting to me because Lena is totally that young person who seemingly effortlessly rose to fame and fortune.
Lori: I don't think it seems effortless...
Emma: OK, effortless is the wrong word. But she's not struggling at Hannah's age the way Hannah is.
Lori: I think what happened at the book party was a mixture of Hannah's envy and Tally actually being pretty obnoxious. It wasn't like Hannah's envy was distorting her view on Tally -- like Marnie's admiration was skewing hers.
Margaret: What did we think of Professor Goldman?
Lori: I think he was a good mentor for Hannah, and I think his intentions were pure.
Margaret: I liked his question at the end of the scene: "Give me an example of what a Hannah thing to do would be." She couldn't answer him.
Lori: Yes! I liked that too. I think he genuinely supports her and wants her to succeed.
Emma: I agree. And his comments were the first time that we got some affirmation that Hannah has real talent as a writer.
Lori: Yes, that's true -- we've never actually known about the quality before.
Margaret: And I was satisfied right along with her when he said Tally is a terrible writer.
Emma: Me too! And I thought it was great that he pushed her to do the reading. Hannah needs a mentor -- badly.
Lori: But that just made me more upset later when she second-guessed herself and listened to Ray. It's like she takes the worst and forgets about the good stuff.
Emma: Ray's comments to Hannah about the "important" things she should be writing about frustrated me. "What in the world could be more trivial than intimacy? Is there anything real you can write about?" I think that a lot of people have that attitude -- that writing about relationships is somehow "soft" or "unimportant," and I completely disagree. There's a reason that those sorts of essays resonate with people so much.
Lori: You mean like this?
Emma: Yup! And because that attitude is so prevalent, I totally bought that his comments would make Hannah doubt herself a lot.
Margaret: I clearly agree.
Emma: And in the end, if Hannah had just stuck to those "soft" topics -- and not tried to talk about death -- she would have been more successful at the reading.
Margaret: But it's Hannah's job to trust herself. Ray can't make her do that or keep her from doing it.
Emma: Oh, I agree completely.
Lori: That's true -- Ray is always going to spout opinions. She needs to learn how to filter.
Margaret: If she doesn't, someone else will. Like Tally.
Emma: Right. I guess this episode just really underscored how much Hannah struggles with trusting herself.
Margaret: I think it's hard to have a thick skin when you're mean to yourself -- which Marnie and Hannah get into when they're fighting.
Emma: Yes, I felt like it was pretty realistic. When someone tells you that your work is trivial, it's really easy to believe it.
Margaret: But her vulnerability in the face of that criticism jibes with how she feels about herself, which I think she expressed more honestly in this episode than any other: "No one could ever hate me as much as I hate myself."
Lori: That was actually stunning to me. It reminded me of the conversation she had with her parents in the car in episode 6 when she said she didn't think anyone could love her for 30 minutes. I didn't believe it then -- I thought it was just exaggeration.
Emma: I totally buy that Hannah has a lot of self-loathing and self-doubt. She's so insecure and she's constantly self-sabotaging. If she doesn't read the essay she really worked on or express herself to Adam properly, she can't get let down by what she really wants.
Lori: But she hates herself?
Emma: Sometimes -- I'm sure she does.
Lori: The internal struggle there is more than I imagined, I think -- I knew she was insecure, but this takes it to a new level.
Margaret: I totally believed it. Absolutely. More stunning to me was what she admitted to Marnie about their friendship and friendship in general. But I'm jumping ahead.
Lori: Can I just say one thing I loved from Ray this episode?
Margaret: Please do.
Lori: When he told her not to come back in a Taylor Swift shirt and sweatpants because he "know[s] all the dick moves." Of course he does.
Margaret: I loved that
Emma: He's hilarious.
Margaret: And that would be a dick move.
Emma: He also said that wearing white dress was "daring the world to f*ck with you." I loved that.
Margaret: It's weirdly kind of true. A white dress is, after all, virginal.
Lori: It's true -- I am scared of white clothing. I can't buy it because I'm scared I'll mess it up.
Emma: Good point, Ray.
Lori: Thoughts on Adam's response to Hannah's reading?
Emma: Totally unsupportive. I think that now that she has Adam, she's realizing that a relationship isn't enough for her. She also wants to develop herself as a writer, which she had kind of put on hold (besides writing in her journal) while she was pursuing him.
Margaret: I don't think she feels like he's not enough. Remember the devilish smile when he went into her room and told her and Marnie not to come in? She loves how weird he is.
Emma: I don't mean that he's not enough for her in a relationship. I mean that a relationship isn't going to fulfill every one of her wants. This is the first time we've seriously seen her try to do something with her writing.
Lori: I do think their ambitions are very different -- he doesn't seem to understand that she might not be satisfied with life as it is. He questions why she'd want change.
Margaret: But I think he feels like he's doing something with his life. She doesn't feel like she is, and I think his critique of readings was somewhat valid, as did she.
Lori: Yes, but that being said, if she's going to do it, he should suck it up and go with her for moral support
Margaret: I agree that he should have gone, definitely.
Emma: Or at least not put it down so vociferously.
Lori: I wouldn't have cared if he'd said, "Look, I think this is bullsh*t, but this means a lot to you so I'll go" -- in Adam words, obviously. He doesn't have to fake liking it, but just go.
Emma: Just support her doing something that could benefit her ambitions.
Lori: It was interesting when Marnie told Hannah that Professor Goldman was the kind of guy she pictured Hannah with -- right after Adam came home.
Margaret: Yes, but I thought that was Marnie projecting her own desire for a "good match."
Lori: I did too. That's who Marnie would want to be with if Marnie was a writer.
Emma: Yeah. I think that Marnie has a hard time being happy for Hannah's romantic success. Especially because Adam is so NOT a man that Marnie would want to date. And he's suddenly in their space.
Margaret: And he is not an easy person to have in your space, let's be honest.
Lori: HER space -- she played the rent card a lot this episode.
Margaret: I thought she was justified.
Lori: You can love the other person's boyfriend, but it's still another person in her space -- and in this case, Adam is a PRESENCE. It's not like she's friends with Adam.
Margaret: So, the fight.
Lori: Allison Williams was awesome at playing passive-aggressive.
Emma: She was. That whole fight scene was so well written. They played off each other perfectly.
Lori: She started off with a low blow, though, when she told Hannah the dress might be too tight for her.
Margaret: So low.
Emma: Yeah ... that was awful.
Lori: I mean, you do not say that.
Margaret: You do not. Although she clearly knew what she was doing.
Emma: She was obviously trying to push Hannah's buttons and start a fight. Which made it pretty ironic when she told Hannah that Hannah had pushed HER to have this conversation.
Lori: Yeah, when she went to throw out her clothes -- which, by the way, she SHOULD have donated -- she was obviously pissed and just egging Hannah on.
Emma: Bring that stuff to Buffalo Exchange or Salvation Army!
Margaret: Marnie totally wanted to discuss it then, despite what she said, and I didn't really blame her. Who at her age can carry her best friend financially?
Lori: I don't blame her, but I thought Hannah was right about where some of the resentment was coming from -- Marnie's lack of a boyfriend. She's miserable, so she feels even more put upon.
Emma: I agree. She had every right to be frustrated about the finances. But she started getting really frustrated with Hannah when Hannah got happier and in a relationship.
Lori: Did you notice that Marnie told Hannah she was being "brave" discussing her feelings? I feel like that was exactly the language she would use.
Margaret: Yes, ridiculous. What did we think of Marnie's line, "I like to be around people who know what they want"?
Lori: I think that's true -- I think she likes to be surrounded by successful, ambitious people because she fancies herself that way. But do you think Hannah was right when she said Marnie doesn't really have her own goals besides to surround herself with that and have a boyfriend?
Margaret: I think that's Marnie's plan for now, and it's not a terrible one for her. Stability is important to her (although she didn't like it with Charlie).
Emma: I think that Marnie hasn't been single in a really long time. Last episode she mentions that she had a long-term boyfriend at age 13. So it must be exceedingly hard for her to be figuring herself out without one.
Margaret: She does seem to enjoy being doted on.
Emma: And then suddenly perpetually single Hannah -- her rock -- is happy and with a guy. And on top of that, Marnie's supporting her financially. I think she just cracked in this episode and put everything on Hannah (some of it valid).
Lori: OK, financially, fine -- she has a right to be upset. But I do think she's forgetting -- as Hannah calls out -- how much Hannah has listened to her. They both feel like sounding boards, but they both do a lot of talking.
Emma: Absolutely. There's no way that they only talked about Hannah's issues. In previous episodes, we saw both of them talk about their problems. It actually was a fairly equal exchange.
Margaret: The "you are the wound" exchange was pretty hilarious.
Lori: No, you are the wound!
Margaret: Hilarious and random.
Emma: It made you realize how weird "wound" sounds when repeated 20 times.
Lori: I did like the exchange about Hannah's "most shameful painful private secret," for a few reasons: (1) I think there are things that happen to us that people think are funny but that we don't want to be jokes. (2) Marnie did keep it a secret, as she should have because -- even in her self-absorbed state -- she got that it was important.
Margaret: She was yelling so loudly that I'm not sure it's a secret anymore.
Emma: Bringing it up at all was a low blow -- and I think Marnie knew it would be. But I also agree with Lori. She wouldn't tell anyone else.
Lori: Yeah, I'm still mad at her for bringing it up -- it's like a little threat that she still has that information.
Margaret: Can we talk about Hannah's big statement about friendship? I don't really give a shit about being a good friend." I believed her, and I was glad she said it. I felt relieved for her, and for Marnie
Lori: I did too -- she has so much on her mind that she just can't make that a priority right now.
Emma: It was definitely honest. But it still made me sad.
Margaret: I think it's OK to not have friendship be your priority, though, as long as you're not pretending it is. Hannah was pretending before.
Lori: I also think friends understand that you can't focus on them every second, and the friendship should be able to survive that.
Emma: But there's a difference between focusing on a friend every second and "not giving a sh*t." I think there's often a middle ground.
Margaret: I agree with all of that, but I also think these two need a break from each other right about now.
Emma: Agreed. Hannah needed to say what she said. And Marnie needs to move out. Living with your best friend is not always a good thing. In my experience, it's often not a good thing.
Lori: Again, we're seeing where Hannah is most honest when she's upset.
Lori: She just hits a breaking point. But where do they go from here? We know the friendship isn't over because Marnie is still a character on the show ...
Emma: I think they'll get space from each other and eventually get over it. I've had awful fights with friends and moved past it. I don't see this being a total deal-breaker for these two.
Margaret: It can't be -- we still have the season 1 finale and season 2. I'm interested to see where they will live if they do indeed move out.
Lori: I never thought I'd say this, but I think Hannah could stand to spend a little more time with Jessa. I think she's more positive and less judgmental -- not that all of her ideas are good, but that positivity could be good for Hannah.
Margaret: Do we think Hannah will move in with Adam?
Emma: I'm not sure. Did anyone else notice that moment at the beginning of the episode where he was kind of smothering her (literally)? I'm not sure Hannah is prepared to move in with a boyfriend.
Margaret: I bet she'd do it if he asked.
Lori: It would be a terrible idea.
Emma: Too soon.
Lori: WAY too soon. But I think she'd be thrilled.
Emma: Should we talk about Shosh and Jessa? They were a smaller part of this episode.
Emma: Shosh was hilarious as always.
Margaret: There was way too little of her here.
Lori: I think they're not sure what to do with her actually. She's funny, but they're having trouble incorporating her. If I remember correctly, she wasn't supposed to be a main character, and then Zosia Mamet was so good that they made her one.
Margaret: Shosh needs a real story line. Quickly.
Emma: I want to see more of her and Ray together!
Margaret: Me too.
Lori: I love that she said "Bryce" was a good name.
Emma: And that he's perfect for her because he's in product development and she "loves products."
Margaret: I love how Jessa listens to her so patiently.
Emma: I hope that next season they develop the relationship between Jessa and Shosh a little more.
Margaret: Yes, please.
Emma: Speaking of Jessa ... that encounter with her old boss was intense.
Margaret: I did not see that coming at all.
Emma: Especially when Kathryn Hahn's character said she wanted Jessa to come back to work.
Margaret: I actually really liked this scene. The dream was amazing, and Jessa was also sort of luminous, as Hilton Als wrote in the New Yorker recently. It is insane the way you can't stop looking at her.
Lori: I have been debating if I think the conversation was completely appropriate.
Margaret: It wasn't.
Lori: But I think Jessa did appreciate being spoken to so honestly.
Margaret: I have a question: What did we think of Katherine starting with, "Fuck Jeff and his penis"? Would she really have begun there, with this sort of us-against-him approach?
Emma: I'm not sure. She seemed sort of all over the place, especially at the beginning, which seemed in character. But I'm not sure that she would have led with that.
Lori: This is what was weird to me. She's been with her husband for 15 years and then is Jessa's ally? It's more complicated than that, I would think.
Margaret: I feel like she coached herself to go in with that approach.
Emma: I didn't feel like she was completely Jessa's ally. She was obviously upset and angry still.
Margaret: And then gradually got to how she really feels -- she wanted to eviscerate Jessa.
Emma: I thought Jessa's comment about attraction was telling. "I'm attracted to everyone when I meet them, but then it wears off. It always wears off."
Margaret: I think that's true for her, and Katherine called her on it.
Lori: It's interesting that Katherine said something about wanting to be Jessa's mother. It has crossed my mind that Katherine would be a good role model for Jessa. She really got what Jessa was dealing with -- and she's still cool, so Jessa won't totally dismiss her as out of touch.
Margaret: I thought her advice was really thoughtful, even beautiful.
Lori: Yes, me too.
Emma: I agree. And Jessa was affected by it.
Lori: "She might really be serious about something or someone and she might be a lot happier than you are right now." Lovely.
Margaret: "You're doing it to distract yourself from the person you were meant to be."
Lori: That line echoed Hannah's announcement to her parents that she was trying to be the person she was meant to be.
Margaret: It's an interesting contrast. Hannah is supposedly trying to become that person, maybe trying too hard, while Jessa is avoiding it.
Emma: And both of them end up sort of lost.
Lori: And I don't think they've accepted that these visions might evolve over the years.
Emma: Which maybe is just inevitable in your mid 20s.
Lori: At the same time, I get it. I have an image of the person I'd ideally like to be, and it can be frustrating not to attain it completely.
Lori: Even as I'm aware that it's unrealistic.
Emma: It's always scary to let something go. Especially when that thing involves the way you see your life turning out.
Margaret: Do we think they have visions of how they want their lives to come out, though? I'm not sure they do.
Emma: I think that Hannah does. Maybe Jessa less so. But she does have an idea of how she sees herself. And being serious about someone or something clashes with that vision.
Lori: I think Jessa has more of an idea of what she doesn't want to be -- boring and typical.
Margaret: I agree.
Lori: Predictions for the finale?
Margaret: I'm losing faith that Gallery Guy is coming back.
Emma: Same. Maybe he'll reappear in season 2?
Margaret: Why do they expect us to wait that long? Not OK.
Emma: If you're reading this, Lena Dunham -- more Booth Jonathan! Also, I think that something will put a kink in Adam and Hannah's relationship.
Lori: Let me throw out a wild idea: Could Jessa hook up with ... Ray? Or do we think definitely Shoshanna? Are they tricking us?
Emma: I don't see Ray and Jessa. I'll actually be really sad if Ray and Shosh don't get together.
Lori: Do we think Shosh definitely loses her virginity? This season, I mean.
Margaret: I can't tell.
Emma: Well, there was that foreshadowing ...
Margaret: That would be a logical conclusion.
Lori: I am wondering if there's going to be a cliffhanger ending or a nice sweet wrap-up.
Emma: Well, I guess we'll see in a week. (I can't believe there's only one left!)
Lori: Then what are we going to talk about?
Margaret: The End
Read HuffPost Women's previous "Girls" Gchats:
Episode 8: Pissed And Sad
Episode 7: The Best Party Ever
Episode 6: You Can Always Go Home Again
Episode 5: "Are You F-ing Kidding Me?"
Episode 3: Are We Hearing Ourselves?
Episode 2: Self-Sabotage Hurts The Way It's Supposed To
Episode 1: Unimpressed -- When We Were Cheering
RELATED ON HUFFPOST WOMEN:
QUIZ: Are These Quotes About "Sex and the City" Or "Girls"?
(Scroll down for attribution of each quote.)
"Their unheroic heroes, sophisticated social assumptions and high level of cynicism are essential to their wit and success."
Caryn James, New York Times, 1999
"[The] show takes as its subject women who are quite demographically specific -- cosseted white New Yorkers from educated backgrounds -- then mines their lives for the universal."
Emily Nussbaum, New York Magazine, 2012
"Speaking to the very realistic approach the show takes to women's sexual relationships with men (i.e. emotionless, friends-with-benefits-esque arrangements with not-very-worthy guys) ..."
Kara Warner, MTV's "Hollywood Crush" Blog, 2012
"Under their cynical facades, these women are endless optimists about ideal relationships, even as they settle for fleeting, imperfect ones. That hopefulness may be the series' secret weapon."
Caryn James, New York Times, 1999
"It's unlike anything else on TV"
Leah Beckmann, Gawker, 2012
"People across America are getting a weekly glimpse at dysfunctional New Yorkers engaging in humanity's most brutal mating rituals."
John Tierney, New York Times, 1999
"It's a grotesque picture of New York, but it's funny because there's a certain emotional truth to it. Some critics -- New York men, for instance -- would argue that the local men aren't all such losers. But the dating pool often looks that way to women."
John Tierney, New York Times, 1999
"[The] new show ... is a realistic, ballsy, awkward, humiliating, intimate, honest take on what it is to be ... living in New York City dealing with STDs, abortion, financial woes, orgasms, body issues..."
Leah Beckmann, Gawker, 2012
"It is about women who are both sympathetic and kind of awful"
Jason Bailey, Flavorwire, 2012
"More social satire than sitcom, it looks openly at relationships steeped in ambivalence, fear, and the games people play."
Matthew Gilbert, The Boston Globe, 1998
"What's especially wonderful about the show is how it depicts women sticking together and supporting each other -- something you rarely see onscreen nowadays. It's like, in Hollyworld, women never have girlfriends, never confide in other women, never trust other women."
The Toronto Star, 1998, "The Best Chickcom Since Ally McBeal"
"The sexual revolution has mostly been a boon for upper-middle-class women like them, who have been able to use its freedoms to delay marriage and to find mates they can stay with for the duration, while enjoying active sex lives in the meantime."
Margaret Talbot, The New Yorker, 2012
Slide 1: Caryn James, New York Times, 1999
Slide 3: Emily Nussbaum, New York Magazine, 2012
Slide 5: Kara Warner, MTV's "Hollywood Crush" Blog, 2012
Slide 7: Caryn James, New York Times, 1999
Slide 9: Leah Beckmann, Gawker, 2012
Slide 11:John Tierney, New York Times, 1999
Slide 13: John Tierney, New York Times, 1999
Slide 15: Leah Beckmann, Gawker, 2012
Slide 17: Jason Bailey, Flavorwire, 2012
Slide 19: Matthew Gilbert, The Boston Globe, 1998
Slide 21: The Toronto Star, 1998, "The Best Chickcom Since Ally McBeal"
Slide 23: Margaret Talbot, The New Yorker, 2012
Follow Emma Gray on Twitter: www.twitter.com/emmaladyrose