Saturday, March 16, 2013

GIRLS 2x09: Olive is the Loneliest Color

In case you didn't notice, in the penultimate episode of GIRLS, "On All Fours," Hannah (Lena Dunham) and Adam (Adam Driver) are both wearing olive T-shirts.  Olive drab--an army color, fitting for unhappy characters at internal war with themselves.  She has no pants, just like he used to have no shirt.  Her anxiety leads to her to self-injurious behavior--sticking a Q-tip into her ear and puncturing her eardrum.  Adam attends an engagement party with his new girlfriend Natalia, and when the engagee tells him that she and Natalia's friends will be very angry if he ever hurts Natalia, because that would be like hurting "Mother Teresa," Adam starts anxiously probing his ear with his finger.  This is some nice work.  (Spoilers ahead!)

In the "One Man's Trash" episode Hannah had her idyll with the physician played by Patrick Wilson--an episode that viewers either hated or loved (I fell truly, madly, deeply for it--click here to read my post on it).  In many ways, "On All Fours" (written by Dunham and Jenni Konner) is Adam's idyll with a regular girlfriend, and it, too, has elicited a strong reaction from viewers--mainly of discomfort, at least judging from Twitter.  Here's the promo:

Adam has taken Natalia out for a week and has been "nice," so she deems she's ready for sex, and he eagerly complies with all of her sexual directives.  Later he actually offers to accompany Natalia to the engagement party for her friend, even though she hasn't asked.   He wants to be asked.  Adam is trying to be a regular guy, his conception of a real boyfriend.  He even tells Hannah in the photo of the scene above that she should put on some pants.  And then he returns to the party.  But we  know that he hates this crap, and we know that he feels completely out of his element.  He finally loosens up after drinking and dancing, and we  This is sexy.  

But back at his apartment, Adam anxiously tries to gauge Natalia's assessment of his dump.  She tells him it's depressing--darker than he really is.  Which is quite perceptive of her, because Adam is filled with a terrible vulnerability that he unconsciously tries to quash by unleashing his shadow side--because he lacks essential ego integration.  Adam orders Natalia to crawl to the bedroom on all fours.  Anyone who's seen the episode knows that this is not Fifty Shades of Grey.  It's graphic and wonderful in its awful realism.  While Adam fucks her, jerks off, and comes on her breasts (NB: honoring her request for him not to come inside her), he goes into a litany of "Like my house?"  "Like the way I look?"  "Really like me?"  Like all of us, Adam just wants to be accepted...and  loved.  And when he's done, he wipes the cum off of her chest with, of course, his olive T.

Afterwards, Natalia tells Adam that she doesn't think she liked that at all.  (Contrast this scene with the early episode in which Hannah is able to "get" Adam and play along, becoming the dominatrix with him while he's jerking himself off as she demands more of his money than she had initially asked to borrow.)   

Post sex (some have even perceived it as date rape), Adam finally asks Natalia, "Is this it--are you done with me?"  He's been subconsciously testing Natalia to see if she will accept the Adam who feels he can never be a regular guy, will never be accepted or loved for who he is.  It will be interesting to see what she decides in the last episode....

Adam is drawn with wonderful psychological complexity.  His nervous self-loathing is depicted with a depth that makes viewers uncomfortable--it's not funny like Hannah's anxious counting (albeit her ear probing made everyone plenty uncomfortable).  Some feel that GIRLS is floundering this season, going from light to dark, from funny to scary, not focusing on the group enough (see Mary McNamara's piece in today's LAT), and being wildly inconsistent (like life!).  Everyone is in "free fall," Dunham has reportedly said.  Ray's having a thirtysomething crisis.  Jessa got dumped by her husband and had a fairly disastrous visit with her puer father.  Shoshanna got it on with the doorman.  Marnie made everyone cringe with her version of a Kanye West song, followed by a desk fuck with her ex, Charlie.

So we beat on, as Fitzgerald wrote.  So forget the Cosmos and get yourself a "shitty" beer (I think that's what Ray called it in the last episode) to watch the season finale tomorrow night...on St. Paddy's Day.

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