January 19, 2014 by NowhereButPop
With the second episode of season three of Girls we’re shown a ubiquitous truth about people and the warring dichotomies within us. I really hate saying that there are two sides to every person, because it’s not true. We’re human, we feel a wide range of emotions that go beyond two feelings. No one is just two people; everyone is infinite people dictated by how they feel.
The more appropriate euphemism is that there are two versions of ourselves, the one that we show the world, the side we’re more comfortable with, and the side that we tend to shelter a bit more, the side that not too many people have seen or know about. Neither versions are wrong or fake, they’re both simply manifestations of how we choose to express ourselves publicly vs. intimately. The most recent episode of Girls, entitled “Truth or Dare” brings to life this seemingly contradicted paradigm. There is us, and then there is the projection of us. What this episode reveals is that the two emotional leads of this episode, Adam and Jessa, are polar opposites within this paradigm of innate duality. What makes this episode all the more compelling is that it is Shoshanna, the most mono-dimensional of all the characters, who serves as the conduit for these personal revelations.
When Adam and Shoshanna are wandering through the woods, she goes into a brief monologue about how Adam is so aloof and odd, which is exactly how he appears at face value. As an ex-girlfriend described him, “He shoots his cum all over the place like it’s god damn confetti”, this is exactly how we were introduced to Adam in season one, this borderline sociopathic sex fiend with zero empathy. But as he explains to Shoshanna as to why he endured with Hannah and was there for her when she was battling anxiety and OCD, “She is my best friend”. Beneath all the outbursts of anger and the reckless ejaculation, here is a guy who really does care about Hannah, and wants to look after those he cares about. It’s why he agreed to hang out with her friends in the season premier and it’s why he went with Hannah and Shoshanna to pick up Jessa from rehab even though he knew it was the wrong thing to do. He tries to help people as he did with Marnie in empathizing with her over her breakup when no one else would. Even though he doesn’t always act like one, deep down Adam is a good person.
The same can’t be said for Jessa however, in fact quite the opposite is true. Although she may not be a bad person per se, she still acts like a bad person with her selfishness and blatant disregard and disrespect for those she considers to be beneath her (everyone and everything). Because she’s experienced more in life than most of her peers, and been hurt more times as well, she gives herself a false sense of superiority over everyone else, as if she knows what’s best for everyone. As her fellow rehabber said to her “You have to know when honesty is righteous, and when honesty is a party trick”, and for Jessa all her bluntness has been is a weapon with which to hurt others, there’s no righteousness or constructive criticism, it’s a mechanism so that she doesn’t have to examine herself and confront her own personal demons. When her ex-husband did this to her by referring to her as a “Whore with no work ethic” she punched him out because it was s truth she already knew but did not want to confront. A hypocrite she is, and that makes her transgression all the worse for it.
Shoshanna’s lack of concern for Jessa, her cousin, illustrates just how successful the public version of Jessa has been. She appears to be so free-spirited and confident without a care in the world, but as Hannah revealed, she hates to be by herself, and cries when she is alone. There truly is “a well of sadness that not many people notice” about Jessa but instead of trying to remedy this, Jessa simply goes about living a life that is destructive to herself and those who care for her. There was no reason leave Hannah alone at the end of season two, there was no reason to lead her astray in college, and there was no reason for Jessa to make Hannah drive up to upstate New York, when Jessa could have just taken a plane. But she did because it was easier for Jessa to not be alone on a plane ride even though it caused Hannah much distress. Jessa is someone who only thinks about herself, because that is the only way she knows how to prevent herself from crying alone in her bed.
Girls is back, and it’s started off on the right foot by comparing and contrasting two characters who haven’t had much screen time together. What is revealed about these two characters is that they are the antithesis of each other. How they act is totally different from how they really feel and by stressing the importance of this, both characters are fleshed out in a nuanced and introspective way that adds a new dimension to a show already rife with character depth.