Second season of ‘Girls’ shares the spotlight

by Ryo Miyauchi

03_20_13_Entertainment_Girls_cred_HBOA lot occurred during the second season of Lena Dunham’s award-winning HBO series, “Girls.” As 20-somethings continued to try to find a footing in their adulthood, they ended up making matters more complicated. Friendships rocked heavily by uncertainty, new relationships came and went and as the source of the show’s notoriety, there were many more heated moments in the bedroom. The audience had a lot to digest as things got messy, but overall, it was another great season for “Girls.”

Critics who wrote off “Girls” as a narcissistic work centered on Dunham may have to change their minds. Hannah, who Dunham portrays, was not the only character who shone throughout the series this time around. The second season had multiple storylines involving its main characters. Some aspects stuck out more than others, but the series developed its characters to a greater extent than the previous season.

Of all the characters, Hannah’s best friend Marnie, played by Allison Williams, had the most going on. The second season began with Marnie losing everything, from her job to her love life. As she threw herself into a sexual mess with Hannah’s roommate and gay ex-boyfriend Elijah (Andrew Rannells) in the first few episodes, Marnie almost lost her best friend, as well.

How Marnie navigated through her rough transition made for a compelling story. Rocky drama and prominent presence made Marnie worthy as the deuteragonist. Marnie gradually found comfort and slowly grew content in a difficult situation, making her someone to root for. The season ended on a positive note for Marnie as she eventually found a happy ending.

A lot was revealed about Charlie’s (Christopher Abbott) bitter friend Ray (Alex Karpovsky), too. He was more of a witty sub-character last season, but ended up playing a strong role in the series as he started a new relationship. As a 33-year-old in a series about 20-somethings, Ray seemed the most in-touch with the creulty of reality. His pessimism toughened him as a character but became a problem with his girlfriend Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet), a naive and bubbly 21-year-old. “It’s hard to tell someone so young that things don’t always end up the way you thought they would,” Ray explained in the episode “Boys.” Ray’s harsh attitude costs him his girlfriend, but he offered an eye-opening perspective of reality.

A missed opportunity came from newlywed Jessa (Jemima Kirke). While she had some marriage issues and an episode dedicated to introducing her torn family, Jessa’s story did not quite unfold as strong as it could have. She ended up leaving halfway through the season to figure out her place in life, but it was unfortunate not to be able to learn or connect with Jessa better before she left. Jessa briefly revealed a more composed side to her wild personality in a fight with her ex-husband Thomas-John (Chris O’Dowd). Hopefully, more of Jessa is revealed later in the series.

As characters developed, they fell into new romantic relationships. Although new lovers did not stick around long, they complicated the series by making the possibilities of main characters reuniting very slim. Old flames were continuously tempted to get back together, yet everyone felt comfortable in their new affairs, offering no clear guess as to what would happen in the end. The new relationships could have lasted a bit longer for the sake of entertainment, but the messy romances throughout the season made the finale much more emotionally satisfying.

The main thing the characters tried to figure out in their adulthood was what they wanted romantically—and it varied with each character. While Jessa’s search did not lead to much and Marnie realized she wanted what she always had, the other two girls went through great change.

The biggest epiphany in the season came from Hannah in the episode “One Man’s Trash.” What started as a lovely affair with a wealthy doctor ended with Hannah revealing all kinds of feelings. Among the overwhelming mess, Hannah expressed her need for companionship and a sense of security. Ironically, Hannah found neither of those things in an emotionally stable man with a perfectly designed home. She left the house a changed woman even without finding what she wanted, making for one of the memorable moments of the season.

The second season of “Girls” eventually comes full circle. Some characters had better luck than others. The finale felt a bit too much like a neat ending, but it was satisfying to see some smiles after such an emotionally disastrous run for the characters. Just like before, “Girls” concluded its second season excellently by leaving more questions than answers. How will the reunited couples turn out? Will the ones who split get back together? Will Hannah finish her book? “Girls” premiered its second season with the tagline “Almost kind of getting it together.” It ended with, “Still in progress.”

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