Girls Season 2 Premiere Review “It’s About Time”

A season premiere, in a show that allows things to change between seasons, is always going to have a big job to do. Almost inevitably, too big. “It’s About Time” struggles under the weight of having to catch us up on what’s going on in the Girls universe, and while I didn’t particularly love it, I’ve got enough good will towards the show to trust that Dunham and co. know what they’re doing.

As set-up for the rest of the season, this episodes functions fairly wonderfully. In four short scenes at the beginning, we’re basically caught up: Hannah is living with Elijah now. Shoshanna is still her manic self, and Marnie is getting fired from her job. (Sorry, she’s “transitioning.”) Maybe most importantly, Hannah has a new love interest, in the form of Sandy. Donald Glover doesn’t get much to do with him here, but I love the actor, and I just pray they let him be funny at least once. Oh, and also, we see Dunham’s boobs before the title card even shows up, just in case we forgot what show we were watching, or what network it’s on.

“It’s About Time” was so concerned with moving about and re-establishing the emotional chess pieces of the show, that only two scenes managed to feel to me like they had any weight to them. The first is Hannah’s first scene taking care of Adam, where we get to see the fallout from the finale’s truck accident. The relationship between Adam and Hannah gets a lot of praise, and for good reason; it’s the most sharply depicted interaction in the show as a whole. Watching Hannah flail in the face of Adam’s uncomfortable directness is always compelling on a character level.

My other favorite scene of the night involved someone completely new, Rita Wilson as Marnie’s mother. She pulled off the character so well, as a mother who wants much more to be a friend than an actual parent. I hope we see her again, as the character managed to shed some new light on why Marnie is the way she is.

Elsewhere, things tended to suffer from being all bunched up together in time. Shoshanna and Ray can’t help but make out with each other, even if Shoshanna uses emojis completely incomprehensibly. Elijah has an older, wealthy boyfriend, George, who embarrasses him at the party, so he ends up trying to sleep with Marnie, in a turn that felt like it came from absolutely nowhere. I suspect that’s just because we don’t know too much about Elijah as of yet – hopefully, we’ll dive in at least a little bit more as the season goes on.

That failed tryst does, however, lead to Marnie spending the night with Charlie, and that shot of her asking if he would let her not spend the night alone really hammered home that she knew she was making a mistake, but needed to do it regardless. Marnie was, for the first season, so much the successful one as compared to Hannah, that it’s compelling to see her in a bit of a tailspin. Her earlier conversation with Hannah, about growing apart, was especially painful too.

With all that going on, Girls only finds time for the newly-married Jessa in one scene. She seems happy, with her vacation braids and her husband that’s basically a stranger, but we can probably guess how that will turn out. This scene felt so tacked-on that I honestly wish the episode just left her out completely, and let the other material breathe a little more.

Girls is fundamentally a show about people who are trying to figure out how to operate in the world, and this premiere does the job of establishing a whole new set of conflicts against which each of the four main characters can ram their head. Especially intriguing is the small whiff of politics we catch, with Hannah borrowing The Fountainhead from Sandy. We already know that Donald Glover’s character is, to some degree, conservative, and politics is an area of new-adult life this show has yet to touch. I didn’t love “It’s About Time” on its own, but I like where it told me the show could be heading.