02/24/2013 10:32 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

'Girls,' Lena Dunham's HBO Show, Season 2, Episode 7 Gchat: Where Jessas Come From

girls jessa dad

Margaret Wheeler Johnson: I thought this was a brilliant concept for an episode. Jessa's backstory is by far the most interesting of all the girls', I think, and after a season and a half, we're finally getting a little insight into it.
Lori Leibovich: I agree completely.
Emma Gray: I really appreciate that "Girls" isn't afraid to switch up its format sometimes. The two standalone episodes this season have both been excellent.
Margaret: I loved the Patrick Wilson episode for that, and I loved this one.
Emma: Me too.
Margaret: So we knew Jessa's parent or parents were going to be crazy.
Lori L.: Right.
Margaret: It would have been so strange if one or both were sane.
Lori L.: Clearly they were going to be hippies.
Emma: And absent.
Lori Fradkin: Just a few conversations with and about her dad told us so much.
Margaret: Wait, do we know where her mother is? She's alive, right?
Emma: Alive, but not around.
Lori F.: I don't think we know where she is.
Lori L.: I don't think so, either. They weren't at the wedding. Not that they would be.
Margaret: Thomas John's weren't either, but for different reasons.
Lori L.: I thought Jessa's father was perfect, and so well cast.
Margaret: Who was that guy?
Lori F.: I just looked it up. Her dad was Ben Mendelsohn.
Lori L.: Can I just say two words: ROSANNA ARQUETTE.

girls jessas dad petula

Lori L.: I forgot how much I love her.
Emma: I love her too.
Lori L.: She was perfect.
Emma: Wonderful.
Margaret: And Petula is the best stepmother name EVER. Ever.
Lori L.: EVER.
Emma: She was just the right amount of New Age-y also.
Lori L.: So can we go back to the beginning? Up until this episode I have defended, mostly to my husband, Hannah's nudity. But even I thought the peeing by the side of the train tracks was gratuitous.
Lori F.: Interesting. That was still less so to me than the ping-pong scene.
Margaret: I still like the ping-pong scene and will defend it to the end of "Girls."
Emma: I wasn't all that bothered by either scene.
Margaret: So I wondered for a while what Hannah's role in this episode was. Why was she there? Why didn't they have Jessa go off on her own like Hannah has?
Emma: a) Jessa needed the moral support and b) Hannah was sort of the voice of the audience at times.
Margaret: I think you're especially right on b). I thought about the way Jessa's parents are, and what a child of parents like that needs is a witness to the craziness that gets justified within the family. Hannah was that witness.
Lori F.: To me, there were two main themes to Hannah's presence: 1) her ongoing desire to be like Jessa and have experiences like Jessa; 2) the contrast of Jessa's parents and upbringing to Hannah's.
Margaret: Yes, the contrast in the parents was important.
Lori F.: But so is the wanting-to-be-like-Jessa thing. Remember at the very beginning of last season when Marnie said Hannah would go on a bender whenever Jessa came in town?
Lori L.: Yes.
Lori F.: She's always wanted a certain closeness to her.
Lori L.: It makes sense. Hannah is her own person, but Jessa is a free spirit. She's cool. She's smart. She's very seductive. We've all had friends like that. And they fill such an important niche.
Margaret: But Hannah doesn't really try to fit in once she gets there. She tries to keep up and belong, but she wants to be recognized even though this REALLY is not the Hannah show. We saw it when she gets so excited about being the cushion. "I've never done it before, but I definitely am up for it."
Emma: Does she get excited about that? I thought she felt a little awkward and was trying to appease Petula.
Lori L.: Me too. I thought that was awkwardness.
Margaret: I thought she was pleased to have a role. But I will watch it again to be sure I think that. Side note: Jessa's dad's child from his previous relationship is named "Lemon"? Was that a joke?
Lori L.: It was perfect.
Margaret: I have to defend my Hannah-wanting-to-belong stance one step further. Remember when she says, "What accents are you guys doing just because I don't like not getting jokes." That's an example. Hannah, this is a nod-and-smile-and-be-a-guest situation. I don't think anyone ever taught her that there really are moments when you can be quiet and not assert yourself without sacrificing your autonomy or individuality.
Emma: I agree that she wanted to be included in that moment. But I didn't feel that with Petula and being the cushion.
Margaret: Fine.

Emma: I found the juxtaposition of Jessa's defense of her dad and his lifestyle and her anger at him to be super effective. Like when she gets mad at Hannah at the beginning for thinking that it's odd that her dad is extremely late picking them up.
Lori L.: I thought Jessa's longing for her dad's acceptance, love and attention was so visceral and so well played.
Margaret: Heartbreaking.
Lori F.: This episode did a nice job of showing us that maybe Jessa has embraced the free-spirit thing because she's had to. And she's a little envious of a more traditional upbringing, even as she flaunts how different she is.
Margaret: I didn't sense Jessa's envy of Hannah, just her utter frustration with her own family.
Lori F.: I'm not saying she wants Hannah's life, but when she tells Hannah not to compare their parents, I feel like she does wish she had that type of support -- the support that Hannah acknowledges at the end.
Emma: I really agree with you, Lori. You feel that conflict really intensely during this episode. She is comfortable in this "free spirit" mentality because she's grown up in it. And you see the similarities between her and her father. But at the same point, she's so damaged by it.
Margaret: The ways that Jessa was like and unlike her father were really nicely displayed. That moment when Jessa's dad is watering the yard and he tells her, "You know, we're not like other people," that was a true statement. But her father displays his off-the-gridness in negligence and alcoholism, whereas Jessa does it in crazy displays of curiosity and generosity. At the end she says she gave her phone to a man in a Mexican restaurant!
Lori L.: I thought that line really illustrated the bind Jessa is in. She wants to be different, and yet look what different has gotten her in terms of family. A lot of instability. A lot of disappointment.

Lori F.: Also, he makes that "we're not like other people" comment in response to Jessa's discussion of her marriage: "He didn't want to work on it." "It was like he didn't remember we took vows." I think this is a case where she did want to be like other people. She has an exuberant lifestyle, but she did want it to work out -- unlike her dad, who seems to not put much faith in relationships.
Emma: I think that seeing all of her father's failed relationships -- and how easily he dips out when things get hard -- probably makes her feel like more of a failure in her own marriage.
Margaret: But she reveals that she really valued the vows, or thinks she did. I can see where, given her upbringing, she would value that commitment, even if she entered into it hastily.
Lori F.: Right, she can't just explain it away like her dad can.
Emma: Which is why I think looking at her father's failures makes her feel worse. She doesn't want to be like him in that respect. And in his mind, they're the same.
Lori L.: My sense is not so much that she wanted her marriage to continue. She just doesn't want to be her parents.
Lori F.: I don't think she wanted her marriage with Thomas John to continue once she saw him for what he was, but I do think she entered into the marriage hoping that it would work out and she would be able to have a stable, loving relationship.
Lori L.: Really? I don't buy that completely. I think she got married spontaneously and hopefully, but she's not an idiot. So much was stacked against them, comically so. I just think that when you have a fucked-up family, even if you want something different for yourself and your future, it can feel almost inevitable that your future will be fucked up too. Like you're tainted or something.
Lori F.: I'm not saying she completely thought it through, but it is still sad to her that it didn't work out. I mean, when a relationship doesn't work out, it's always upsetting -- even if it's not right. And in her case, it's not just that he was wrong, but she comes from a family in which things don't work out, so it's doubly upsetting and discouraging.
Margaret: I can see her thinking that she fulfilled her fucked-up destiny even as she tried to escape it, just like in a Greek tragedy. I can also see the cliché of that really pissing Jessa off.
Emma: Can we talk about Frank?

Margaret: So, Turtleneck Frank wandered in from a Wes Anderson movie.
Lori F.: TF, you mean.
Margaret: That's who I mean.
Lori F.: The whole episode looked like it was Instagrammed.
Emma: I kind of agreed with Hannah's assessment that she wasn't sure whether he was "attractive in a loserly way or just losers."
Margaret: I didn't think he was a loser, just a strange kid, which one would be, with those parents.
Emma: I didn't think he was a loser either -- harsh wording on Hannah's part. I just mean that feeling when you can't tell whether someone has an attractive quality or not.
Lori F.: I think that was such a perfect Hannah statement -- she can't totally form her own judgments about someone and doesn't want to get it wrong.
Margaret: If someone is male and weird and in her proximity, she is attracted to him. I don't say that judgmentally, it's just her thing.
Emma: Also, it's her thing if the guy in question seems into her. Frank seemed a bit in awe of her and Jessa. And he agreed that he didn't want to eat his pet rabbits.
Margaret: That is many women's thing. I don't think that part is unique to Hannah. Poor rabbits. And three meals a day?

girls hbo jessa hannah

Emma: That seems like an excessive amount of rabbit consumption.
Lori F.: What else would you eat with your grits?
Lori F.: Ew, I just grossed myself out.
Margaret: You grossed me out too.
Lori F.: Jessa's dad said it!
Emma: I liked Jessa's foreshadowing of Hannah's reckless sex with Frank when they're looking at the 1979 Penthouse. Jessa says that the most noble thing you can do is help a boy find his sexuality.
Margaret: No, Jessa, it is not. He will find it either way. Emma: And when Hannah does "help" Frank "find his sexuality," it's clear that it's far from noble.
Lori F.: Right, it's somewhat traumatizing for him. Poor TF.
Margaret: I loved Hannah's "those are crazy vaginas" comment. And one of my FAVORITE lines was when Jessa says, "Who says she's not a doctor" about the centerfold. Damn right.
Lori F.: Did Tyler remind anyone else of a young Prince William?
Emma: He was really pretty.
Margaret: Were we supposed to think he was gay from the beginning?
Emma: Tyler or Frank? Also, we never really got a clear answer about whether they did have a sexual relationship, did we?
Margaret: Tyler. Frank's comment suggested that Tyler had made passes at him, and he hadn't gone for it, right?
Emma: Yeah, I think so.
Lori F.: I wasn't totally clear on what happened between them.
Emma: I think that Tyler was supposed to be the more socially accepted of the pair -- so I bet that Frank is the one who is given a hard time about their friendship.

Margaret: We have to talk about the reckless driving. I don't understand why Jessa's still into that, free spirit or not.
Emma: I was genuinely terrified watching that scene.
Lori F.: Yeah, that was just stupid.
Emma: It seemed like Jessa was in a bad place with her dad and was trying to just be as reckless as possible.
Margaret: I agree.
Emma: Hannah was right to freak out and stop the car.
Margaret: Yes, although it's always funny when Hannah accuses others of being immature, even if they are.
Lori F.: Can we discuss the sex scene for a second? So bad. When she was just staring up and patting him on his back...
Margaret: Awful.
Emma: So incredibly awkward. Also, how did she so quickly get from making out to thrusting in the woods? And what did you think about Hannah's horrified reaction that Jessa hadn't also had reckless sex with a 19-year-old?
Lori F.: That was a perfect example of her desire to have shared experiences with Jessa. "That was fully just me trying to have continuity with you."
Margaret: I don't believe her.
Emma: Me either.
Margaret: Jessa in no way suggested that this was what was going to happen. Hannah's the one who stopped the car.
Lori F.: No, Jessa didn't, but I do think Hannah had it in her head that they were in this adventure together.
Emma: I think she wanted Jessa to have done it so that she could feel better about her awkward sexual experience.
Margaret: I enjoy that Lena Dunham found a way to work "Hocus Pocus"into a "Girls" episode. "And Thora Birch is gonna wear a little hat."
Margaret: Do we think Hannah used Frank for sex?
Lori F.: I don't know if "used for sex" is exactly right. Clearly, she didn't get much out of it. But maybe used for experience.
Margaret: Right, used in a way he doesn't even realize.
Lori F.: I think Hannah was right to be skeptical that Frank had sex with "Rihanna."
Emma: I don't think he had sex with Rihanna. Hannah did probably do it "for the story," but does he have a right to be pissed at her? It was a casual sexual encounter in which they both participated equally. She was always only going to be there for two days. I'm not sure that she's in the wrong.
Lori F.: But remember he's 19 and confused. He's experiencing a ton of emotions and doesn't know how to deal with them. I don't think he was expecting it to turn into anything either, but now he doesn't know what to do or if he made a mistake.
Emma: I feel for him, but I don't think that it's Hannah's fault or responsibility.
Margaret: Well, the whole thing cannot have helped her UTI.
Emma: Definitely not.

girls jessa dad swing

Emma: I think one of the saddest scenes was where Hannah hogs the covers and Jessa says she doesn't think she was in the "right frame of mind" to see her dad. Hannah tries to relate, but it's just so clear that she couldn't possibly understand what it's like to grow up with the parents that Jessa has.
Lori L.: I thought that was one of the greatest moments on the show to date and yet another example of Hannah's solipsism.
Margaret: Totally. Hannah needs someone to say what Jessa did.
Emma: And I think that their conversation shows that Jessa reached her breaking point. Which is why it made so much sense that she blew up at her father shortly after that.
Lori L.: But did it penetrate? Does it ever? Marnie has called Hannah on her shit, and it never registers.
Emma: I thought it actually did get through to Hannah to an extent.
Margaret: Should we get to Jessa's conversation with her dad? THE conversation?
Lori L.: Yes.
Lori F.: Jemima Kirke was so great in this scene
Emma: She really shined.
Lori F.: The "I'm the child" line was heartbreaking.
Emma: And really beautifully written.
Lori L.: I could cry right now just thinking about it and reading it.
Emma: "Why can't you do one single thing you say you will do?" She was 100 percent right on everything she said to him.
Margaret: I loved that she called him on abandoning his previous girlfriend and their child. And when he said, "You think I can rely on you?" I was so afraid she was going to apologize or agree like someone else might, but she didn't. She said what I think a lot of people would like to say to their parents.
Lori L.: You f*cked up. F*ck you.
Margaret: Exactly.
Lori L.: And you f*cked me up.
Margaret: And take some responsibility.
Lori F.: You just saw how hard things have been for Jessa -- she can act like she doesn't care and loves being on her own, but the truth is it's really sucked.
Emma: Exactly. And she's right to blame him for some of her missteps -- "how much shit I've taken because you never taught me to do anything else."
Lori F.: And he's the grown-up, the parent -- not her.
Margaret: "You have no idea, do you? ... Of how much time I've spent waiting for you?" -- and then, moments later, she's waiting for him again at the store.
Emma: I was actually really glad that he f*cked up again. I think that on your average sitcom, that would be the breakthrough moment. The dad would "see the light" and change. But in reality, I don't know if that happens all that often.
Margaret: I agree.
Lori F.: Me too. That guy isn't going to change overnight, probably not ever, sadly.
Emma: Right. I think part of him wants to.
Lori F.: I don't doubt that he feels bad about how he's acted, but I don't know that he's going to act on that feeling.
Lori L.: I doubt that guy will ever change.
Lori F.: His track record isn't good.
Emma: He won't.
Margaret: What did we think of Jessa's exit?

Lori F.: It felt right to me.
Emma: I felt really bad for Hannah, though. Just being left?
Margaret: I did, too, but I was more focused on how Jessa was sort of repeating her dad's behavior.
Emma: Absolutely. I think she sort of gave in to that side of herself. Like she's saying to herself, if her dad won't change, neither will she.
Lori F.: I didn't see it as giving over to that side. I saw it more as needing some time to herself.
Margaret: But it does echo the way her father acts.
Emma: I thought it was both.
Lori F.: It does. But I think it's also that Hannah can't understand what she's going through.
Emma: I get that she needs space. And I trust that she'll be back. But I think that Jessa's default is to flee from things.
Lori F.: Yes, "needs space" is a good way to put it. She needs to breathe a little.
Emma: She does. I just wonder whether that impulse is always a healthy one.

Margaret: I loved when Hannah called her parents at the end. And then peed, while on the phone with them. The call simultaneously showed how much better off she is than Jessa family-wise and that even good, normal parents can be a handful. Her mother will probably always be suspicious and fly off the handle.

girls hannahs parents

Lori F.: I loved that her dad was looking for a $50 hotel room in NYC. "Your mother thinks I'm crazy, but the Internet has deals."
Emma: Her parents are GREAT. Yes, she gets in little fights with them, and they don't always understand each other, but her family cares about her.
Lori F.: I thought it was nice that she called them.
Margaret: You have a known soft spot for people who call their parents.
Lori F.: I know, but it's easy to know you have great parents -- it takes another step to acknowledge it to them.
Emma: Agreed!
Lori F.: And considering how selfish she's been this season, it was nice to see.
Emma: I thought it was appropriately hilarious that when Hannah tries to do that, her parents just expect more selfishness.
Lori F.: Like what's the catch?
Margaret: They know her even better than we do.
Margaret: So are we all living in a computer simulation as Petula suggested?
Margaret: Excuse me.
Lori F.: I, like Hannah, am waiting for scientific evidence.
Emma: Same here. I'll also be avoiding rabbits.
Margaret: The End.

Read HuffPost Women's Previous "Girls" Gchats:


Episode 6: "Like A Man"

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 4: I Just Want Someone Who Thinks I'm The Best Person In The World

Episode 3: Are We Hearing Ourselves?

Episode 2: Self-Sabotage Hurts The Way It's Supposed To

Episode 1: Unimpressed -- When We Were Cheering


QUIZ: Are These Quotes About "Sex and the City" Or "Girls"?

Are These Quotes About "Girls" Or "Sex And The City"?