TALL BLOND STRANGER
Margaret: So, did we think there was any purpose to the first scene other than to introduce Joshua? And to allow Ray the opportunity to tell Grumpy's customers, "Go back to your panda videos. Or I'll turn off the wifi"?
Lori L.: To show Ray's serious anger issues?
Margaret: It definitely accomplished that, but the episode wasn't really focused on Ray.
Emma: Not at all. I thought the first scene was more of a vehicle than anything else -- and a fun way to get some more Hannah-Ray time in.
Lori F.: It seems his default mood is rude and put-upon.
Lori L.: But I think his display of childishness shows, again, that Shosh is really the grown-up in that relationship.
Emma: And it's clear Ray is pretty unhappy with his work.
Lori F.: I really feel like the whole episode was just leading up to Hannah and Joshua's conversation at the end. There were moments that were interesting, but I didn't really get that interested until Hannah's speech in bed. It was really different from almost any other episode in a way, in that the entire episode built to a certain moment.
Emma: Yeah, I enjoyed the change-up in structure. It was nice to get an episode where Hannah was doing more than making super obnoxious, self-centered comments every time we saw her.
Margaret: Although she made some of those obnoxious self-centered comments
Emma: Of course! Because she's still Hannah.
Lori F.: Yes.
Emma: But pulling her into an extended interaction with a stranger did allow us to see different sides of her.
Lori L.: Yeah, it was nice to linger on one character.
Margaret: So. We meet Joshua.
"IT'S KIND OF MY VICE"
Margaret: First I want to talk about Hannah's outfit. Another f-you to the short-shorts haters? Or am I reading too much into it?
Lori L.: You might be.
Emma: I loved it. I'm not sure if it was explicitly about that, but I think that it was a great Hannah outfit. Good job, Jenn Rogien!
Margaret: Either way, it's totally true to character.
Emma: I really loved when she was confessing that she was the one who put trash in his trash can, she said, "It's kind of my vice."
Margaret: "That's how it started. I liked the way it felt": that is a script straight out of a Lifetime movie. She was totally parroting addiction melodramas there.
Lori F.: But she's also living in her own story -- she's always looking at her life in terms of how it will read to others.
Emma: And I thought it was a great touch when she added that she didn't get how annoying the trash situation would be because she'd never had her own can. Again driving home how un-"grown-up" she is.
Margaret: I just love that she's so self-centered but so un-self-aware.
Emma: But also kinda ballsy.
Margaret: I think she's able to be ballsy because she doesn't really get how she's perceived.
Lori L.: Totally oblivious.
Emma: Definitely. But that allows her to do things like kiss Patrick Wilson. Who by the way, is not what most 42-year-old men who sleep with 24-year-old women look like.
Lori L.: What do you think her attraction to Joshua was about -- and what was his to her? And did anyone besides me think it was terribly unrealistic?
Margaret: I did think it was unrealistic, but the whole thing felt like a fantasy that Hannah was playing out.
Emma: Exactly. I felt like the departure from realism was intentional. Joshua was a total fantasy man, which is why we'll never see him again. Beautiful, older, successful, stable, gorgeous home.
Lori L.: And a doctor! But the house... can we talk about the house?
Emma: Oh. My. God.
Lori F.: You mean the "fixer upper"?
Lori L.: Every single one of my Brooklyn real estate fantasies came to life on the screen.
Margaret: They were supposed to. Lena envisioned that set with you in mind, Lori Leibovich.
Lori F.: Hannah was right that it was like a Nancy Meyers movie.
Margaret: Okay, but that comment about Nancy Meyers. I would have thought she'd say a Nora Ephron movie. Or have some Nancy Meyers movies been brownstone-specific in a way I'm not remembering?
Lori L.: Not that I know of, but I didn't take it that literally.
Lori F.: I think Nancy Meyers is just the go-to reference for perfect homes.
Emma: I mean... "The Holiday" did feature some pretty amazing houses.
Margaret: I was just thinking that. That movie was pure house porn. Also Jude Law daddy porn, but I digress.
Lori F.: I think the attraction on her end had to do with two things: 1) that he was attracted to her; 2) the idea of domesticity she's been playing with all season.
Margaret: Right. And a hyperfocus on money, which we saw last week, too.
Lori F.: Right. The scene where he was reading the paper. And the one where she was drinking wine while he was cooking. That's in a way what she's been aspiring to.
Lori L.: Also, even though his marriage is ending, he represents stability in all other ways that she lacks it.
Lori F.: I want to talk about that kiss. Why does she do it?
Margaret: To advance the fantasy?
Lori F.: Is it just the potential for a good story?
Emma: I feel like she's turned on by all of his things and just goes for it.
Lori L.: I think it's all of the above, but mostly I think it's about the narrative. As the dopey editor at JAZZHATE made clear, you need to Live in order to write anything of interest. I also just think she was genuinely hot and bothered. I mean, he's really hot!
Emma: SO hot. I was definitely a little jealous.
Lori L.: And the opposite of the boys she's been playing around with -- physically and emotionally.
Emma: Yes! Could you picture someone less like Adam?
Margaret: It's like she's forcing into realism a scenario we're not usually allowed to see on TV -- a guy like him going for a girl like her, and her initiating.
Lori L.: And forcing him into it because I don't think he ever would have initiated it.
Emma: No, but he was genuinely into it.
Lori L.: He probably didn't realize he could be attracted to her -- until he was. And you can totally see the charm. Here's this guy whose marriage is in shambles, who is approaching middle age, and this young woman full of possibility and energy and balls comes on to him?
Lori F.: I don't think it was just that he didn't think he'd be attracted to her. She definitely was testing the boundaries, and then he went with it.
Margaret: She was giving him an opportunity to be someone totally different for a few days, or at least do something he wouldn't normally do.
"NOT THE FEEDBACK I'VE BEEN GIVEN"
Lori L.: I'm just guessing, but you can imagine that one of the reasons his marriage ended is a lack of fun and passion and spontaneity.
Margaret: I can.
Emma: Definitely. He seems a little bit uptight.
Lori L.: And there she is, in his kitchen, representing all of that.
Emma: They each represent things that are missing from the other's lives.
Lori L.: Which is probably the #1 reason people of different ages fall in love.
Emma: I loved the contrast between him making steak and her sipping red wine and the 20-something guys messing around downstairs. And how Hannah called him on being the guy who shakes his fist at young people.
Lori F.: But I also thought it was very Hannah to just disregard his request to be called Joshua. For whatever reason, it matters to him and she just blew it off.
Margaret: I didn't like that she blew it off, either. But the way he talked about it also made it sound like there was a backstory there that I was curious about. "I used to know a guy named Josh who I hated." It was kind of like his explanation of his divorce -- we got just enough information to make us want more. Which we obviously weren't going to get because as Emma said, he's not lasting beyond this episode.
Lori L.: It didn't bother me at all that he said so little about the divorce. Why would he want to go into detail with her?
Emma: Right, I found it more shocking that she just outright asked him what he did to drive his wife away. Who asks things like that to a stranger?
Lori L.: Maybe I imagined this, but he seemed pained when he talked about it.
Lori F.: Well, I'm sure it's still painful for him. Should we discuss her demand that he beg her to stay?
Emma: I thought it was really telling that she tried to leave because she was convinced that was what all men wanted.
Lori F.: By the way, I love that she said, "It's not my first time at the rodeo." That is one of my favorite expressions. (Says the Texas girl.)
Emma: So good.
Lori L.: I loved that too.
Margaret: I feel like it's been overused. Asking him to beg was just experimentation, I think. She wanted to see how far she could push this.
Emma: And I think he found it fun.
Lori L.: It echoed the time with Adam when she asked for cab fare.
Margaret: It did. This kind of power game definitely turns her on.
Lori F.: And then you see the other side of Hannah when he calls her beautiful, and she says it's "not the feedback [she's] been given."
Emma: I thought that was such an honest exchange. She sounds genuinely surprised that he thinks she's beautiful. And I think that a lot of women feel that way, unfortunately.
Lori L.: I think even beautiful women feel that way. It's our collective feeling of unworthiness.
Margaret: But she said she does think she's beautiful.
Emma: I wasn't sure if I believed her or not.
Lori L.: Me either. I was skeptical.
Margaret: If she's not telling the truth, it's interesting that she's not letting on. She's trying to project confidence.
Emma: I also was struck by how intimately the sex scenes were filmed. So many close-ups.
Lori L.: I give Lena Dunham so many props for that. It makes the sex seem so believable and raw.
Margaret: Lena is very good at recreating the awkwardness of real sex, that it isn't usually choreographed.
Emma: But Hannah seemed to be enjoying herself. We haven't really seen her enjoy sex before this.
Lori L.: Good point. She is genuinely turned on. She's feeling something rather than just acting out a scene/doing what she thinks she should. There was so much of that -- the acting -- with Adam.
Emma: YES! And Joshua wants to make her feel good.
Lori F.: So I have no problem with Lena showing her body, but I do wonder why Hannah had to play ping-pong topless. That scene stunned me more than others.
Lori L.: How so?
Lori F.: I mean the nudity. It's felt more natural in sex scenes or in the bathtub, whereas here it didn't. So it was more jarring.
Margaret: I didn't think the topless ping-pong was extreme. I thought they were having fun. What was unusual was that it we were privy to it.
Lori L.: But would she really play topless?
Lori F.: I don't know -- I just feel like she would have worn one of his shirts or something.
Lori L.: Did that seem in character to you, MWJ?
Margaret: Yes, it did.
Lori F.: I thought it seemed extreme even for her.
Emma: I was a bit taken aback, but it didn't bother me or seem totally out of character.
Margaret: Should we get to the speech?
"PLEASE DON'T TELL ANYONE THIS, BUT I WANT TO BE HAPPY."
Margaret: So we knew this was coming. We'd seen that Hannah was getting upset by the whole situation. The way she stares at him on the patio while he's reading the paper? She seemed to be already coming to terms with the fact that this couldn't last, that the end was coming and had to.
Lori F.: The fainting was just a way of getting us there, right? I didn't miss anything in that...?
Margaret: For me it was also a representation of the sort of fugue state this whole episode is for Hannah. She walks down a street, enters a house she doesn't know, spends two days with a person she doesn't know, then leaves that house. I thought falling asleep/passing out in the steam emphasized the degree to which this episode was like a dream.
Lori L.: Yes, the steam especially. Also maybe her wanting to be rescued somehow.
Margaret: Yes! Maybe that was the overarching fantasy of the episode -- the dream of being rescued.
Emma: The steam scene was also a good transition. And genuinely scary.
Lori L.: I wish we had a transcript of the speech. I feel like we could dissect it line by line.
Emma: It was amazing. It felt like a major turning point for Hannah -- like when she made that speech to Adam last season.
Margaret: But some of this felt a little borrowed to me too. When she says that she must hate herself to let people do some of the things they've done to her? That's a line straight out of therapy and self-help.
Lori F.: "What makes me think I deserve that?" "Something's broken inside of me."
Margaret: I bet Hannah's read a lot of self-help. Lena certainly has.
Emma: Did you feel like it wasn't genuine, though?
Lori L.: I don't know. When you say it now, it does seem canned, but at the time I watched, it felt really genuine to me.
Emma: Me too.
Margaret: Somewhat, but she also reminded us that her confidence is very much intact: "If anything, I think I'm just too smart and too sensitive and too not crazy." That grandiosity felt much more genuine, more thoroughly Hannah, to me.
Emma: That part felt very self-centered Hannah. But I thought she had moments of clarity.
Margaret: Right. I thought what was brilliant about this speech was how it switched so quickly between expressions of a universal longing and the usual Hannah myopia.
Emma: That's why I liked it so much. I think Hannah loves to think of herself and different and removed from everyone else. Above it all.
Margaret: This reminded me a little of something Nora would write: "I want what everyone wants. I want all the things."
Emma: I loved that line.
Lori L.: Loved.
Lori F.: I think Hannah has told herself that she is different from everyone because she's a writer. She's told herself that so much and wants to believe it. And yet she's not that different. And if she's not different, why has she been living the way she has? She can't make excuses for it the same way.
Emma: It made total sense to me that being in this 2-day fantasy in this perfect home would make her think about that.
Lori F.: I found this part so interesting: "I made a promise such a long time ago that I was gonna take in experiences, all of them, so I could tell other people about them." Do you think Lena feels that way at all?
Lori L.: Hasn't Lena essentially said that?
Margaret: That reminded me of what Jessa said last week about wanting to be "full of experiences."
Lori F.: And yet Hannah wants what so many people want.
Emma: Right, to feel settled and comfortable and loved. And it's scary to admit that, because you can't guarantee that you'll get that.
Margaret: Yes, it's much easier to pretend you don't want or need comfort. So you convince yourself that you can just decide not to need it, and then you'll have less to lose.
Emma: And partially, that uncertainty is just about her age.
Lori F.: I think she's told herself for so long that it's OK because she's experiencing things for OTHER people.
Lori F.: But it's still her life.
Emma: It makes everything OK if she's doing it for some higher purpose. But really, she's just doing it all to herself.
Margaret: The "letting anyone say anything to me" kind of broke my heart.
Emma: That made me tear up.
Lori L.: Me too. That line killed me.
Lori F.: But then Joshua mentioned the hand job story, and she just dismissed it.
Margaret: She did not like it when he tried to make this a conversation. This is the Hannah show -- do not try to get a word in.
Lori F.: Yet she got upset with him for not opening up to her.
Lori L.: I felt like what she was saying was way beyond him.
Emma: Yeah, I thought it was fairly predictable that he got freaked out. They don't know each other. How was he supposed to react?
Lori L.: Right.
Emma: He was trying not to be that guy, but he didn't know what to say.
Margaret: She thinks she opened up to him and he rejected the true her, but she overshared, and he rejected the oversharing.
Lori F.: She was being selfish, and yet I felt for her when she asked if he still wanted to kiss her. She realized that something changed because she revealed too much.
Lori L.: He may just have wanted his house to himself after two days. By that point any person might be getting antsy.
Margaret: True, but the switch seemed to happen over the course of her monologue.
Emma: Yeah, it did.
Lori F.: Right. "You basically begged me to tell you all my feelings." No, he did not.
Margaret: I think she's very vulnerable to confusing affection and comfort for permission to tell all, and for unconditional devotion.
Emma: I did laugh when she said, "What's your damage, Josh?" I couldn't help but think of "Heathers."
Lori L.: JOSH! She's so freaking inconsiderate.
Lori F.: It also reminded me of "Friends" when Rachel always calls her boyfriend (Tate Donovan?) Josh-u-a.
TAKING OUT THE TRASH
Margaret: Are we supposed to wonder if this episode was a "sexit," the word Hannah thought she coined at the beginning of the episode? I think it was more of an escape. She checked out of her life for a few days.
Lori F.: It was an escape after she indulged for just a little longer.
Emma: Yeah, I don't think it was a sexit. I LOVED the ending of the episode when she wakes up and plays house for a little while.
Margaret: Me too.
Emma: Making his bed and taking out his trash --
Margaret: Which started this whole thing...
Emma: It felt like a little step in the right direction for her. Like an indication that one day, Hannah COULD grow up. This character DOES have the ability to evolve.
Margaret: It's almost like she went on a little enrichment retreat, sex included.
Emma: Healthy sex.
Lori F.: I think that speech is going to be one of the pivotal Hannah speeches we discuss.
Margaret: Well, it's one of the few instances where she's explicitly laid out what she's about.
Emma: I think we needed to see a more vulnerable, sympathetic side of Hannah.
Margaret: It's what we've been waiting for.
Lori F.: Too bad we won't see more Patrick Wilson, though.
Emma: It really was a treat.
Margaret: As was his brownstone.
Lori F.: The end.
Read HuffPost Women's "Girls" Previous Gchats:
Episode 4: "We're Adults Here"
Episode 3: Where the Magic Happens
Episode 2: Sad Little Glowworm
Episode 1: "Are We Okay?"
Episode 10: Surprise!
Episode 9: You Are The Wound
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
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QUIZ: Are These Quotes About "Sex and the City" Or "Girls"?
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Emily Nussbaum, New York Magazine, 2012
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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
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Leah Beckmann, Gawker, 2012
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John Tierney, New York Times, 1999
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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
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Jason Bailey, Flavorwire, 2012
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Matthew Gilbert, The Boston Globe, 1998
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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
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