Girls: Role-Play

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March 16, 2014 by NowhereButPop

by Andrew Doscas

When it was originally announced that season three would be expanded from ten to twelve episodes, there was quite an excitement buzzing about.  Two additional episodes of witty, sharp dialogue, two additional episodes of such unlikable yet interesting characters, and even more memorable moments.  However, between the episode “Incidentals” and last week’s episode “Role-Play” what we were given were two episodes of pointless filler.

Even more than “Incidentals”, “Role-Play” is the weakest episode of the season.  All the pointless and irrelevant storylines are given the same shock and awe treatment that weakened “Incidentals”.  There’s too much going on in this episode to give it a clear and focused direction.  Not only are all the plots unimportant, but they are all shoehorned into a quick, but messy resolution.

The main story of this episode is Hannah trying to stymie her own self-created fear of losing intimacy with Adam after he got the part for a Broadway play.  As an audience we’re never given any reason to doubt their relationship and aren’t given any viable reason share Hannah’s paranoia.  As such, her dilemma comes off as being fake, superficial, and unbelievable.  Her attempt to liven up hers and Adam’s sex life is exactly as Adam describes it: unnecessary.  Even more unnecessary and spontaneous is his decision to live with Ray for the next few weeks, while production for the play is ongoing.  The first time Hannah hears this news is the first time the audience hears this news, as such it literally comes out of nowhere with no sense of background or purpose.  All of the sudden, Hannah decides to spice up their sex life- in the most odd and ill-conceived way, while, Adam suddenly decides to live with Ray with no prior mention of it.  This being the main crisis of the episode leaves us scratching our head asking ourselves “Where the hell did this come from and why?”.

Paralleling the main story are Jessa and Marnie’s journey unto the next phase of their life.  Just as quickly as he appeared, Jasper, Jessa’s friend from rehab is written out of the show in one scene.  Having returned to the show just to be a bit player in two episodes seems like a slight for a character who initially held so much promise.  But, as a character, Jasper didn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know.  After he leaves Jessa to be with his daughter, his true purpose is revealed- to make the audience realize how much Jessa hates being alone because it reminds her of all the mistakes she’s made.  The problem though is that we already know this about Jessa.

Jasper’s treatment as a guest character is only an example of how quickly other characters are introduced and then disposed of.  Sandy, played by Donald Glover, Caroline- Adam’s sister, and Jasper are but a few characters introduced to give the show extra flair.  They seemingly came out of nowhere, and where then written off way too quickly.  For characters who are so easily forgotten, it begs the question why introduce them in the first place?  Desi, Marnie’s newest love interest, will most likely get the same treatment.  This is why it’s hard to get behind his character; not only is he a walking cliché, but we also know he won’t last very long, and will most likely be given a rather unspectacular sendoff.

Girls is a show that works best when the focus is on the four main girls.  That’s what made “Beach House” one of the best episodes of season three.  But, as of late their interactions with each other are being sacrificed for meaningless cameos by Elijah or Desi.  Instead of writing Jasper out in the span of a single scene, it would have been more promising to focus on Shoshanna’s growing maturity or her discontent with the other three girls.  For a show like Girls to succeed, there has to be a lot going on, as there really is no central plot to the series as a whole.  What worked to the detriment of “Role-Play” is that a lot of things that happen are resolved as quickly as they appear, which ultimately renders their purpose meaningless.  What’s even more dissatisfying is that Girls is a show that does have meaning and substance to it, you just wouldn’t know it from watching “Role-Play”.

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