Margaret Wheeler Johnson: So this was the second episode this season about writing, for one thing.
Lori Fradkin: Right, after Jazzhate.
Emma Gray: I remember Lena saying before that we'd have to wait and see whether Hannah has writing talent. This is the first episode this season that indicates that she really might. She got a book deal! That's a pretty big step for her career, considering thus far she's had one article about coke published online.
Margaret: True, but it still made me sad when she said writing an e-book was the best thing that ever happened to her.
Emma: She's the low-high combination, right? The unknown writing "highbrow" content.
Lori: Yes, as opposed to "Toni Morrison doing Target."
Emma: Do you think this is another way that Lena is playing with the ridiculousness of branding someone the "voice of a generation"?
Margaret: That makes sense to me.
Lori: One thing that stuck out to me is that she never signed a contract or talked money -- that we saw at least. It was as if she was so excited to have the gig that the rest didn't matter.
Emma: I feel like that's sort of realistic. A lot of young people feel so honored to get work that they forget to properly advocate for themselves financially. But I feel like that was just left out for the sake of the story more than to make a point. Also, asking someone to write a book in 4 weeks is just cruel.
Margaret: Awful. Inhuman.
Lori: When she sat down to write, it seemed she was writing fiction. This surprised me -- I thought Hannah just did essays...
Emma: I thought she did both, but what she's best at is essays. At that reading she tried to do fiction, right?
Margaret: And we remember how well that went.
Emma: Right... terribly. So... that first shot of Marnie and Booth...
Margaret: Jorma Taccone is evidently very comfortable with his body.
Emma: He's great. His character? Awful.
Margaret: When Booth asks Marnie about Hannah, then says he doesn't really care? The worst.
Lori: In that first shot, Marnie wasn't great about Hannah either. "I bet she wrote a blog post or found a really good hot dog or something." Again, commenting on Hannah's eating.
Emma: Marnie was pretty obnoxious in this scene. I found it hard to have sympathy for her. Especially because she was so clearly putting on airs to impress Booth. Like saying that "taking a bite of someone's ice cream is psychotic."
Margaret: See, I thought there was a tinge of sarcasm there. I felt like there had to be.
Emma: Really? I don't think she actually meant it, but I think she said it because she thought he wanted her to agree with him. Regardless, she was dismissive of Hannah and it made me sad. Their friendship is clearly strained right now.
Margaret: But it's been strained, and the state of their relationship right now felt very real to me. At a certain point in your 20s, I think you do develop independent groups of friends, and then you have to negotiate being less close that you were.
Lori: But Marnie's also right with what she tried to tell Booth before he said he didn't care. The history you have with people does count for something.
Emma: And Marnie and Hannah are very realistically trying to recalibrate their friendship -- which is challenging to do. Marnie described hanging out with Hannah as "ingrained." At this moment in time, they don't have much in common, but that isn't to say they won't be back on the same page later on.
Margaret: Hearing that someone is friends with you because it's "ingrained" probably wouldn't feel good, but I do think you have to count on that history to carry friendships sometimes, especially when you're distant.
Margaret: I just have to say it again, Booth is such a jerk. And Marnie was so sweet to him when they were in bed. She refuses to see his flaws, for now at least.
Emma: Right. She's so enamored by him that she's willing to mold herself to fit into his life -- and that was hard to watch. And then we jump from that relationship right to Shosh and Ray, who have a very different dynamic.
Margaret: Can I just say that Shosh is the least likely Grumpy's customer ever? I bet she doesn't even drink coffee. It would make her too hyper. Also, she wants Ray to go to a Donald Trump seminar?
Emma: I get the sense that she just wants him to be more motivated -- and that's the way she thinks she can help him, in true Shosh fashion.
Lori: Yes, she wants him to be more proactive. and he's resistant.
Margaret: Shosh is so strange. It's amazing how some of her ideas are totally original, and others are so received. Why does she put stock in a flyer's promise of happiness?
Lori: I think she just wants him to do something, and she's throwing out options. But I'm so curious about his backstory because I have no sense of how he got to this point and what he would even want to do.
Emma: I was thinking the same thing. Like does he have things he wants to do beyond managing a coffee shop? And would it be horrible if he didn't?
Margaret: I liked this scene because it showed how fundamentally, philosophically different they are.
Ray doesn't necessarily want to be happy, and he doesn't necessary want a career or career success, and Shosh assumes that everyone wants these things.
Emma: I also think that he doesn't quite fit the vision she had for the person she'd be with. She's so motivated and driven and idealistic, and he is none of those things.
Lori: She still feels like she has a bright future ahead of her, so she assumes he does too. And he may feel like he's missed his chances. The age and life experience differences do matter in this case.
Emma: The developmental difference between 21 and 33 is really big.
Emma: I like how impressed Shosh was with Hannah's book deal. And so was Ray. "Usually when people say they wanna be a writer they just wanna eat and masturbate." -Ray
Lori: That's how Ray expresses congratulations. I am interested to know more about Ray's relationship with his godmother. Like why that "Little Women" book means so much to him?
Margaret: Yup, I wanted to know that, too.
Emma: I loved that he has a godmother who writes him notes in books. Also, Shosh's response was amazing.
Lori: "How exactly does your godmother think that 'Little Women' relates to your sh*t? Like does she think you're a Marmee or an Amy?"
Margaret: It is funny that he's attached to his copy of "Little Women," but I thought there might be a hint of a statement there. It seemed very Lena-esque. Men can learn from women's stories, not just vice versa.
Margaret: But how does Ray's godmother know his sh*t, let alone how literature explains it? Who's that close to their godmother?
Lori: I think he lived with her for a while? I don't know ... still unclear.
Margaret: Oh right! You know what I want? A whole episode on Ray, like we had on Hannah last week.
Emma: I was happy that we got to see a lot more of him this episode. It's nice that Lena is trying to flesh out the male characters more this season.
Lori: One of the things that struck me about this episode is how much Ray wants to feel "like a man." Shosh tells him it's his "duty as a man" to go to Adam's. And later he's intrigued by the idea of being "extra muscle" for Adam.
Margaret: This was very much an episode about men more than women.
Lori: So Ray gets to Adam's apartment and the music coming from inside is kind of violent-sounding, like an indication of Adam's rage.
Emma: Ray suddenly seems like such a timid person compared to Adam.
Margaret: It's brilliant to juxtapose them. We've seen them in the same scene relatively few times.
Lori: Right, Hannah and Adam spent a lot of time in Adam's apartment.
Emma: But they definitely know of each other and run in similar circles (at least they did when Hannah was dating Adam). And regarding the quest to feel "like a man," Ray even comments on Adam's overt masculinity. He calls his apartment "very masculine, primal."
Margaret: Yes, and he doesn't even try to hide how worshipful of that he is. The show casts Ray's life crisis as very gendered -- it's a crisis of manhood.
Emma: And I think Ray gets wrapped up in returning Adam's psychotic dog to Staten Island because he gets convinced that it will help him prove himself as a man. "Like extra muscle, in case sh*t gets real, that type of backup?"-Ray
Margaret: But I also appreciated Ray's concern for the dog and its owners, and OF COURSE Ray's childhood dog was named Constantine.
Emma: And Ray was genuinely upset that Adam had just stolen this one.
Margaret: What I didn't understand was how Ray is so jaded about the idea of happiness and how it's possibly bogus but doesn't realize that prescriptions about what it takes to "be a man" aren't all that important and aren't the only ways to be a man. You don't have to be hammering and kicking lumber in your apartment with an angry dog to be a man.
Emma: I think he's just having a crisis in general. He's very insecure. And that ends up being expressed though this attempt to be more "masculine." But before we get to their ill-fated Staten Island journey, we see Marnie trying on dresses.
"THE IDEA OF YOU"
Lori: We are starting to see more cracks in Ray's relationship with Shosh. In her conversation with Marnie, she mentions that he won't buy $4 tacos and how jealous she is of Marnie. Also, I love that she wants there to be mood lighting.
Emma: Yeah, I think that Shosh is starting to get a bit fed up with Ray.
Margaret: And he with her, as he sort of indicates on the ferry.
Emma: Their gap in experience and disposition is starting to come out more.
Lori: Right, that she doesn't get his jokes, etc.
Emma: But it's interesting how that very real relationship is contrasted with Marnie's delusions about Booth.
Emma: A relationship that ALSO includes an age gap.
Margaret: Yes, for all of both Ray and Adam's flaws, they seem like dreamboats compared to Booth. They are people real women would be in relationships with.
Emma: The way Marnie says, "Booth and I are having a few friends over," I just cringed.
Margaret: Me too. I was sad for her.
Lori: It was so inevitable though.
Margaret: It was again one of those moments where I wanted to yell at her, HUGE MISTAKE. STOP NOW.
Margaret: And yet usually when you're going after someone you on some level know is bad news, someone you know you like for the wrong reasons, nothing is going to stop you.
Emma: Oh definitely. I could completely see how she got to that point and why she was still seeing him. But it was obvious that this CAN'T end well. Especially since Marnie is blowing off Hannah and clearly doesn't want Shosh to come to the party. She's sort of crafting a whole new vision of herself through Booth and isolating the people she really cares about in the process.
Lori: The way she interacts with his friends as if they are her best friends...
Margaret: and is embarrassed by her own friends...
Lori: So THAT DRESS...
Margaret: Perfectly uncomfortable. I loved at the end when she couldn't get out of the wine cellar in it.
Lori: She was trying to be avant-garde to fit in with the art scene.
Emma: Yes! She's just kind of faking it the whole time at the party. She's being "hip Marnie" and "arty Marnie."
Lori: And we learn she hasn't been texting Hannah back, which is exactly what Hannah did to her at the beginning of the season when she was with Sandy and Adam.
Margaret: Did anyone notice how Booth said he didn't cry, and his "colleague" called him on it? He's basically boasting about how stoically masculine he is, and it just makes him look ridiculous and insecure.
Emma: Yes! I think that Booth is this other brand of masculinity -
Margaret: *sshole masculinity?
Emma: --one that Marnie finds really attractive, but even he is insecure and sad underneath his bravado.
Lori: So when he tells her he doesn't have a girlfriend, I thought that scene was actually kind of cliché. And I'm not sure if it was the show using clichés or Lena intentionally having Booth use clichés to express himself. "Everyone just uses me for what I represent to them." "No one even knows me, Marnie, not even you."
Margaret: I agree completely. Also, her lines just felt really young, high school young. "Usually when I think someone's my boyfriend, they're my boyfriend."
Emma: But I think he was right when he told her that she doesn't actually like him -- she likes the image of herself she can create when he's her boyfriend.
Margaret: She had all but admitted that.
Lori: Definitely. "I hoped you were my boyfriend. And I'm a longtime fan of your work. And I just like everything in your life. And I'm wearing this dress. And I like your house." I actually thought that was too explicit. I don't think she would be that self-aware about it in the midst of what she thought was a breakup.
Emma: I agree.
Lori: Also, there were more of the money references that we've been seeing all season.
Margaret: I think it's about more than the money with Booth, though.
Lori: Status too.
Emma: His whole life is exactly what Marnie thought she wanted.
Emma: But I think their breakup made her realize that what she had with him -- and his friends -- wasn't all that real.
Lori: Anyway, I'm glad that's over. She'll get over him and he was awful. I mean, I know she's sad. But she's a smart girl. She'll be OK.
Margaret: I'm sad she had to go through it, though, and frankly, I wanted more from the Booth story line. I wanted him to end up being as complicated as Adam and Ray.
Emma: Yeah, he's more of a Thomas John character than a Ray.
Lori: That's a good way to put it, Emma
Margaret: Should we talk about Ray and Adam's trip to Staten island?
Emma: Yes! Let's talk Staten Island ... or in Ray's eyes, the most miserable place on earth.
Lori: That line about how he turned down a three-way because one of the girls was from Staten Island ... so Ray.
Margaret: He's so snobby about it even though he is underemployed and sometimes sleeps in his car. He takes great pride in the fact that he parks that car in Brooklyn.
Emma: Also, are we seriously supposed to believe that Ray isn't Jewish? Like ... it's Alex Karpovsky.
Margaret: That was amazing to me. Come. On. He's more Jewish than Jerry Seinfeld.
Emma: Hahahaha. I love how Ray and Adam so quickly started talking about relationships. It was nice to see two interesting, complex male characters talk about relationships in a real way.
Margaret: Yes, and not sex so much as relationships. Although sex would have been interesting too.
Emma: What did you think of their contention that older women and younger women are somehow easier to date?
Lori: I thought it was interesting that Adam said that the 50-something he dated loved her body and it's the "in-betweens" who worry about their looks. And yet he said this women "exercised compulsively." I suspect she isn't exercising compulsively because she's comfortable with her body...
Margaret: Probably not, although I think Adam would just like someone compulsive (about anything).
I thought it was a very realistic male conversation, and part of the realism was the parts that didn't make sense. Like thinking that women over 50 don't worry about how they look. First of all, women over 50 do worry about their looks, unfortunately. Second, straight women worry about how they look in part because they want to be attractive to men. It's not something they do because they enjoy it.
Emma: It seems like these guys just don't want to deal with women their own age who are inevitably struggling with the same amount of insecurities that the two of them are. I think they feel that older women and younger women are "easier" to be with because with younger women they get to feel like they have something to teach them -- without really exposing their own insecurities -- and I doubt older women care as much about those insecurities. It's always scariest to be with someone who you really have to relate to.
Margaret: I think you're right, Emma. They were basically saying younger women and older women don't challenge you as much.
Lori: So as they're walking through Staten Island, we get a better sense of their feelings about Hannah and Shosh and their relationships. Adam's carnival metaphor was interesting, but it also sounded like he was trying to convince himself.
Emma: I agree. And it becomes obvious during the course of their conversation that he isn't quite over Hannah. I loved this line: "I'm a difficult person, everyone's a difficult person. She was accepting of my brand of difficult and she was OK with it."--Adam
Lori: I thought that was fairly insightful.
Margaret: This is one of the more mature ideas about relationships anyone has expressed on the show. For his many flaws, he is a good guy.
Lori: He is, deep down, but his particular brand of difficult is really difficult.
Emma: Absolutely. But so is Hannah's.
Lori: When he called her an altruistic person, I'm not surprised Ray reacted. Altruism isn't exactly how I would describe her lately.
Margaret: It shows Adam is a little deluded about her.
Lori: Although he hasn't really seen her selfishness like the others have.
Margaret: True. She took care of him when he was injured, and he didn't know that was out of guilt.
Emma: It felt like a normal amount of delusion for someone who's still in love with an ex. Poor Ray just didn't realize how intense Adam's feelings for Hannah still were.
Margaret: Adam's theory that Ray was sleeping with Hannah was pretty crazy though.
Emma: Oh yeah, he went off the rails there. Ray was just trying to have an honest conversation, and he hit a nerve. Adam didn't want to hear anyone else criticize Hannah.
Lori: Did you guys have any reaction to Ray's mention of taking Shosh's virginity? That feels kind of personal to me.
Emma: But he was having a personal conversation. That didn't seem weird to me.
Margaret: Me either. I thought it was interesting that Adam didn't respond to that at all, but I guess there's no appropriate response. I thought it said more about Ray, showing the degree to which he needs to boost his ego.
Lori: Yes, it seems as if he was trying to use it to further validate their relationship.
Emma: Also, I think he does feel this added responsibility because of it. But I'd say that's more in his head and less what Shosh is putting on him.
Lori: I agree with that. Anyway, the scene with the dog owner's daughter...
Margaret: What was the point of this?
Lori: Just to put Ray down even more? I didn't like it.
Margaret: To confirm his ideas about Staten Island? To show him that he could be put in his place by a girl?
Emma: The whole thing was jarring. I didn't like it either
Lori: It felt like it relied on stereotypes and went on for too long.
Margaret: Ray feels emasculated. Staten Island is not Manhattan. We get it. So then we cut back to the girls.
THE BOOK OF SH*T
Lori: Hannah was looking at a website that said Twelve Fruits That Will Make You Fat.
Margaret: Which I think pointed to her issues and also to procrastination.
Emma: Right. She definitely wasn't writing her book.
Margaret: I also couldn't figure out whether her response to Jessa's comments on the insignificance of her book were reflective of her understanding and loving Jessa, or of something she said last week, that she will let anyone say anything to her. "How's your book of shit?" is pretty harsh. And so fantastically Jessa.
Lori: I think Hannah's just taking everything Jessa says with a grain of salt because Jessa is depressed.
Margaret: Yes, that could be all it is.
Emma: She's just letting Jessa be upset Jessa. Clearly Jessa is still in a funk post-Thomas John (which is understandable).
Lori: I liked how she was kind of bitch to Lena and then they had this exchange: "You can stay as long as you want." "I know." That felt realistic to me actually.
Margaret: Me too.
Margaret: They do know each other very well. They almost seem more connected than Marnie and Hannah, especially after the phone call those two have.
Lori: So that phone call. It was so sad because they were both lying to each other about being happy.
Margaret: And the fact that they were lying to each other also represented how far apart they've grown. They're each striking out on their own, trying to "become who they are" independent of the other's influence, and it's not going so well for either of them, but neither wants to admit that.
Lori: Right, ideally, Hannah would be able to tell Marnie how worried she is about the book and how that guy at the party made the upsetting comment about e-books. And Marnie would be able to cry to Hannah about Booth. But they can't even let the other know that there's a problem.
Emma: They're both more worried about how they look to the other and wanting to keep up these false pretenses of life progress. Even though, as we all know, progress and change are tough. And you really need social support.
Margaret: Instead, since neither of them lets the other one in on what's really going on, they come away from the conversation no better off.
Emma: I loved the visual of Hannah punching her phone into her bed. You understood exactly how she was feeling.
Lori: One thing I just thought of is that Marnie is going to have to go home to Shosh and admit that her perfect art boyfriend and perfect art party aren't what either of them thought.
Margaret: I hadn't thought of that. I bet it will be easier to admit to Shosh. Marnie's not as close to her.
Emma: Do you think she'll tell her the truth right away?
Lori: I do. I think it's harder to lie in person. I think she's going to break down when she gets home. So Ray and the dog?
Margaret: I liked this ending. It did a good job of conveying visually how alone Ray feels.
Emma: It was so heartbreaking.
Margaret: Oh, wait, I wanted to talk about what Adam said about Shosh and Ray.
Lori: Oh, right: "What you're doing with Shoshanna, it's not real -- she's just some kid you feel same with 'cause you know it won't work out. You're just babies holding hands."
Margaret: Do we think Adam's right?
Lori: I don't think he's entirely wrong.
Emma: He's not entirely wrong, but he's not right either. I think he's right in the sense that Ray assumes it won't work out with Shosh.
Lori: I think there are genuine feelings there, but I do think that Ray feels more secure with someone younger and more innocent like Shosh. He can be the grown-up in ways that he's not in other aspects of his life.
Margaret: But he can't be the grown up with her. He doesn't have his life together, and she's called him on that.
Lori: Well, that illusion of his grown-up life is fading, which is scary to him.
Emma: And at the same time, he's starting to feel old. I don't actually think Ray feels safe with Shosh. I think he feels quite vulnerable. When he said, "I'm nothing," it really broke my heart. Ray is such a great character, and I feel more connected to him every time we see him. Lena has done an amazing job with writing him, and Alex Karpovsky is great as well.
Margaret: He feels fully human, and part of that is that there's lots more to know about him.
Emma: Exactly. And it was the perfect touch when this Satanic, rejected dog cuddles up to him at the end.
Margaret: Perfect. So here's my question going into next week. Do we think Ray and Shosh will be done? And if so, what happens to Ray?
Lori: I don't think they're done yet, but I'm not sure they're going to last ultimately.
Margaret: I don't either.
Emma: I think we're seeing the beginning of the end of that relationship.
Margaret: Which makes sense. This is a show about people in their early- to mid-20s. Their relationships realistically wouldn't last all that long.
Margaret: The goal is not to marry these characters off.
Emma: And I appreciate that.
Margaret: Of everyone, whose next move are you most excited to see?
Emma: Jessa -- because we haven't really seen her for two weeks.
Lori: Hmm ... I think Shosh. I would also like to learn a little more about her outside the context of Ray.
Margaret: And I'm curious about Marnie. Is it weird that we're not interested in Hannah's book?
Lori: I kind of feel like it's not going to happen
Emma: I'm interested to see whether she actually writes it.
Margaret: It would be strange, to see Hannah the honoree at the book party, rather than the person resenting the honoree.
Lori: Shosh would be beside herself.
Margaret: Which is always in itself a good enough reason to watch.
Lori: I want Hannah to finish the book just so I can see Shosh's book-party outfit. Well, not just, but ...
Emma: And so Jenny Slate can make a return cameo and attend.
Margaret: So much to look forward to.
Lori: The End
Read HuffPost Women's Previous "Girls" Gchats:
Episode 5: "I Want All The Things"
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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Kara Warner, MTV's "Hollywood Crush" Blog, 2012
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John Tierney, New York Times, 1999
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John Tierney, New York Times, 1999
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Margaret Talbot, The New Yorker, 2012
Follow Margaret Wheeler Johnson on Twitter: www.twitter.com/mwjohnso