Girls, Season 3, Episode 7: “Beach House”
Written by Jenni Konner, Lena Dunham, and Judd Apatow
Directed by Jesse Peretz
Airs Sundays at 10 PM on HBO
Girls continues its focus on character relationships by taking a break from its ongoing plot to show Hannah (Lena Dunham), Marnie (Allison Williams), Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet), and Jessa’s (Jemima Kirke) trip to Marnie’s mom’s beach house. Along the way, Elijah (Andrew Rannells) with his new boyfriend Pal (Danny Strong) in tow to add some comic relief and tension to the conflict between the four lead characters. As the characters strip off their clothes (Hannah is in a bikini for most of the episode.), they also expose their wounded psyches and flawed personalities. This episode has its share of hilarious moments, like the previous one, but the humor is counterbalanceed by the conflicts between characters. All their problems are on display from Marnie’s micromanagement to Hannah’s narcissism and Jessa’s recklessness. Shoshanna is the most sympathetic one of the bunch and gets to be completely honest. But “Beach House” isn’t all gloom and doom. There’s a tenuously choreographed dance number which is a perfect metaphor for the friendship (or lack of one) between Hannah, Marnie, Shoshanna, and Jessa.
One of the strengths of Girls Season Three is its exploration of its characters and the experience of being a twenty something in New York City. “Beach House” isn’t afraid to look at the triumphs and tragedies of its protagonists’ lives. Konner, Dunham, and Apatow give their characters depth and use the vacation home setting to look at the different dynamics between characters. Their main focus is on the strained relationship between Hannah and Marnie. The writers utilize something as simple as Marnie cooking only four duck breasts instead getting more food for Elijah’s friends to show how she is unwilling to compromise, even for her friends’ sake. Hannah is on the opposite end of the spectrum by basically doing whatever she wants. She gives Elijah bad relationship advice and invites people over to her friend’s house without asking her first. Shoshanna finally matures into Girls’ voice of reason (a possible by-product of dating Ray) and calls Hannah a “fucking narcissist” and tells her that she is fascinated by herself. She feels like her and the other girls aren’t even friends any more. This scene comes close to breaking the fourth wall, but Zosia Mamet captures Shoshanna’s outburst of emotions and seasons her insights with a bit of ditziness. She has become the breakout character of the past few episodes and could be one of the few characters in Girls to actually grow and change.
Even though the heated argument between Hannah, Marnie, Shoshanna, and Jessa, which devolves into name-calling and Marnie straightening everyone out is the climax of “Beach House”, the ending of the episode is a silent and potent, like the conclusion of a independent film. Director Jesse Peretz has indie film chops (Our Idiot Brother), and he uses a long camera shot of the girls picking up after the fight and party the night before to hint at the possibility they could remain friends. Peretz does little things this episode like putting distance between Marnie and the other characters to show how out of touch she is with her friends and her own self. The direction and cinematography of “Beach House” enhances the writers’ insights into the characters and exposes both the tension and possibility for redemption that some of them possess.