PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.

Reviews

Growing Up Is Getting Complicated, in a Good Way, in Season 3 of 'Girls'

Girls is becoming more complex along with its characters, and as a result, the viewer feels a greater investment.


Girls

Airtime: Sundays, 10pm ET
Cast: Lena Dunham, Jemima Kirke, Allison Williams, Zosia Mamet, Becky Ann Baker
Subtitle: Season Three Premiere
Network: HBO
Creator: Lena Dunham, Jemima Kirke, Zosia Mamet, Allison Williams
Air date: 2014-01-12
Website
Trailer
Amazon

Every generation thinks that it has it harder than those who came before. Girls has been lauded as giving voice to that sentiment for the Millennials: getting a job, dealing with the opposite sex, and starting a life are apparently more difficult for them than for anyone previously. However, based on the first episodes of the third season, this may be the year that the girls on Girls realize that those feelings are nothing new on the road to adulthood.

The new season, premiering 12 January, offers a bit of a reboot after last year’s full capitulation to despair. The show is always bitterly funny, but by the end of Season Two, it had stopped finding much humor in the pain that became its pervasive focus. Marnie (Allison Williams) and Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet) lost jobs and boyfriends. Jessa (Jemima Kirke) completely disappeared after a devastating encounter with her father. And Hannah (Lena Dunham) struggled with and ultimately lost her battle against OCD, a process meticulously portrayed through a series of incredibly difficult moments like the scene where she slowly and steadily pushed a Q-tip deep into her ear. While hard to watch, Hannah’s eventual acknowledgement of her mental illness was admirably restrained and a credit to the show.

This season opens with a quick montage of where they all are right now. Marnie has moved somewhere that looks quite suburban. Shoshanna has left Ray (Alex Karpovsky) behind, dividing her time between school and sex. Hannah is living a blissful domestic life with Adam (Adam Driver), having put their tumultuous relationship of previous years on a sound footing. Jessa turns up at rehab.

Yet, despite such appearances of progress, the four girls still have a long way to go to break out of the patterns that have marked their lives so far. When Shoshana says it's amazing how little her three friends have accomplished with their lives since college, it's clear that Girls is not speaking for a generation, but representing a certain type of privileged young adult who is financially and socially able to coast through a vaguely comfortable lifestyle and too often mistakes angst for actual suffering.

Amid the girls' adjustments and continuing self-absorption, Adam seems particularly changed. In earlier seasons, he's appeared to be a sexual deviant whose quirks made him disreputable, if not outright dangerous. But the show has turned him around so that he is the most honest, if still strangest, individual in the girls’ lives (his non-verbal grunts and growls constitute a seriously good performance). When Adam says Hannah is his "best friend," you believe him unconditionally. His devotion to helping Hannah keep her OCD in check is truly touching.

The fact that Hannah's treatment continues to be a major part of her life not only shows the deepening of the characters in Girls, but is also a sign that the show itself is maturing. Now, with every manic tic that Hannah displays, often in very funny circumstances, there is the very real threat that her OCD could reassert itself in destructive ways. Similarly, Jessa has frequently been the bluntest and most caustic of the four girls, her nasty barbs played for laughs. Now that she's in rehab, Girls maintains an unflinching and unsympathetic eye on Jessa's brutal taunting of her fellow addicts in group sessions, leaving no doubt that both her substance abuse and need to tear others down stem from a deep personality issue that must be addressed.

In the first few episodes of this season, Girls does a much better job of finding the balance between humor and drama that has eluded it in previous seasons. The show is becoming more complex along with its characters, and as a result, the viewer feels a greater investment. Regardless of the generation, fumbling toward adulthood is always awkward and difficult. But for Girls, like its main characters, it is a necessary transition.

8

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

Artemis Is the Latest Jazz Supergroup

A Blue Note supergroup happens to be made up of women, exclusively. Artemis is an inconsistent outing, but it dazzles just often enough.

Books

Horrors in the Closet: A Closet Full of Monsters

A closet full of monsters is a scary place where "straight people" can safely negotiate and articulate their fascination and/or dread of "difference" in sexuality.

Music

'Wildflowers & All the Rest' Is Tom Petty's Masterpiece

Wildflowers is a masterpiece because Tom Petty was a good enough songwriter by that point to communicate exactly what was on his mind in the most devastating way possible.

Music

Jazz Composer Maria Schneider Takes on the "Data Lords" in Song

Grammy-winning jazz composer Maria Schneider released Data Lords partly as a reaction to her outrage that streaming music services are harvesting the data of listeners even as they pay musicians so little that creativity is at risk. She speaks with us about the project.

Music

The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 100-81

PopMatters' best albums of the 2000s begin with a series of records that span epic metal, ornate indie folk, and a terrifying work of electronic music.

Books

The Power of Restraint in Sophie Yanow, Paco Roca, and Elisa Macellari's New Graphic Novels

The magical quality that makes or breaks a graphic novel lies somewhere in that liminal space in which art and literature intersect.

Books

'People of the City' Is an Unrelenting Critique of Colonial Ideology and Praxis

Cyprian Ekwensi's People of the City is a vivid tale of class struggle and identity reclamation in the shadows of colonialism's reign.

Music

1979's 'This Heat' Remains a Lodestone for Avant-Rock Adventure

On their self-titled debut, available for the first time on digital formats, This Heat delivered an all-time classic stitched together from several years of experiments.

Film

'The Edge of Democracy' and Parallels of Political Crises

Academy Award-nominated documentary The Edge of Democracy, now streaming on Netflix, lays bare the political parallels of the rise of Bolsonaro's Brazil with Trump's America.

Music

The Pogues' 'The BBC Sessions 1984-1986' Honors Working-Class Heroes

The Pogues' BBC Sessions 1984-1986 is a welcome chapter in the musical story of these working-class heroes, who reminded listeners of the beauty and dignity of the strong, sooty backs upon which our industrialized world was built.

Music

Mary Halvorson Creates Cacophony to Aestheticize on 'Artlessly Falling'

Mary Halvorson's Artlessly Falling is a challenging album with tracks comprised of improvisational fragments more than based on compositional theory. Halvorson uses the various elements to aestheticize the confusing world around her.

Music

15 Overlooked and Underrated Albums of the 1990s

With every "Best of the '90s" retrospective comes a predictable list of entries. Here are 15 albums that are often overlooked as worthy of placing in these lists, and are too often underrated as some of the best records from the decade.

Books

'A Peculiar Indifference' Takes on Violence in Black America

Pulitzer Prize finalist Elliott Currie's scrupulous investigation of the impacts of violence on Black Americans, A Peculiar Indifference, shows the damaging effect of widespread suffering and identifies an achievable solution.

Music

20 Songs From the 1990s That Time Forgot

Rather than listening to Spotify's latest playlist, give the tunes from this reminiscence of lost '90s singles a spin.

Film

Delightful 'Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day' Is Good Escapism

Now streaming on Amazon Prime, Bharat Nalluri's 2008 romantic comedy, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, provides pleasant respite in these times of doom and gloom.

Film

The 10 Best Horror Movie Remakes

The horror genre has produced some remake junk. In the case of these ten treats, the update delivers something definitive.

Television

Flirting with Demons at Home, or, When TV Movies Were Evil

Just in time for Halloween, a new Blu-ray from Kino Lorber presents sparkling 2K digital restorations of TV movies that have been missing for decades: Fear No Evil (1969) and its sequel, Ritual of Evil (1970).

Music

Magick Mountain Are Having a Party But Is the Audience Invited?

Garage rockers Magick Mountain debut with Weird Feelings, an album big on fuzz but light on hooks.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.