Girls Season 2 Review “Boys”

This week’s Girls is called “Boys,” so we might as well dive right in and start there. It’s the return of Adam, who brings back to the show his uniquely weird, screwed-up energy. What the episode does, in pairing him up with Ray, is using that to let us get to know Ray, who’s been kind of a cipher so far in the show, to be honest. But here, we finally get a clearer picture of who he is, without Shoshanna around. It’s his longest relationship at barely over a month, we learn here. He’s the oldest main character, and we’re getting hints now of exactly how pathetic he may be.

Their Staten Island adventure to return a stolen dog lets each one’s anger and sadness play off each other. It’s incredibly enthralling to watch Adam talk himself in circles about Hannah, first comparing her to a carnival prize, then later getting insulted when Ray tries to contribute to the pity party by agreeing that Hannah isn’t worth it. And the way Adam describes it, by praising Hannah’s off-kilter sense of justice, it feels like he’s talking about himself, too, and for the first time I understand why those two people might be drawn to each other so intensely.

On the girls’ side, Marnie helps Booth throw a party, and I knew from the moment she referred to them as a couple that it would end as badly as it did. Hannah, too, gets a hint of promise before the real world crashing down on her, but instead of an asshole, it’s the sheer difficulty of writing a book in a month. And, like the moment in the episode with the dinner party when Hannah leaps to Marnie’s defense, this week’s phone call, with all its silence, proves exactly how desperately they each want to be back in each other’s lives.

“Everyone’s a difficult person,” Adam says in “Boys,” and if there’s any one thing to pull out of Girls as a central theme, that’d be it. It’s one reason why the show draws so much criticism; it can be hard to get an emotional hold on any of the character, because all of them are grating, and obnoxious, and they all hurt people they love, and are unwilling to accept criticism, and the show is obsessive about documenting all the small ways friends are terrible to each other. But this difficulty is exactly what makes the show so funny or powerful, when it works, and this episode really brings it. I just hope that dog sticks around.