Girls 5×01 ‘Wedding Day’: Growing up

Source: HBO

“All they ask is what they can get from a given situation.”

The one facet of Girls that I most appreciate is that, while it is certainly a show that speaks to the way that millenials grow up today, it has a certain timeless quality to it. Girls is about the way that people grow up and what it means to be an adult. Adulthood doesn’t begin when you are 18 years old, and it doesn’t begin when you are 21 years old. It isn’t a switch that you flip. It’s a learning process that occurs when you take on more responsibility, when you take the hard path where you could have taken the easy one. It’s being uncomfortable and learning how to cope. It’s feeling pain and learning how to examine it instead of simply feeling it.

Girls 5x01-1

Source: HBO

“Wedding Day” reminded me of Transparent’s absolutely remarkable “Kina Hora” episode, the wedding-based premiere of the show’s second season, because it used this marker of transformation and adulthood to show just how far the characters have come and how far they have to go. It creates a marker in everybody’s journey towards maturity, as it is an experience that everybody lives, even if they’re not the primary actors in the wedding. Sure, it’s not a great episode of Girls in the way that “Sit-In” or “One Man’s Trash” were great episodes of Girls, but it shows that Girls has a great deal of life left in it, and that it still has much to say about the show’s characters and their respective journeys.

Girls 5x01-2

Source: HBO

Everyone has a decision to make in this episode, a crossroads that they have to deal with in order to get through the day. The only one here that seems relatively mature is Fran, the teacher and Hannah’s boyfriend after the six-month time jump, who is somewhat unnerved by the behavior of those around him (Desi and Ray especially). The rest of them are still groping for some direction, something to hold onto. Desi is a complete mess, having cold feet, professing that this is his eighth engagement and that the ring he has for Marnie is from Clementine (his ex). Ray is also a mess, as he’s still in love with Marnie and wants to be with her. Of course, it’s worth wondering how Marnie still feels about him, as she wanted to invite him, though it’s entirely possible that she just wants to feel like her little group still has cohesion, that she has a home base to return to. But Ray, when he could have abandoned Desi and let the wedding fall apart, went after him and tried to make things better. While this can still be self-flagellant, as Ray is prone to do, it goes to show that Ray is willing to sacrifice in order to make things better for others. It would probably be best for Ray to move away from all of those people entirely, but he’s at least making the right choice where he is now.

Girls 5x01-3

Source: HBO

The girls, except for maybe Jessa, are still really grasping for some idea of adulthood, even though “Wedding Day” shows them all making progress. Marnie is obsessing over how she looks for her wedding, isolating herself from the men (likely because of how nervous she is about making such a huge decision). Shoshanna is airy and detached in her usual “Shoshanna” fashion. And Hannah is thinking about the way that she wants to feel during the wedding, paying less attention to Marnie (though this isn’t all Hannah’s fault; Marnie is VERY pushy and domineering during her wedding day). But when Hannah hears from Fran that Desi is on his eighth engagement and clearly struggles with commitment, she is faced with the decision of whether or not she should tell Marnie, and expresses the desire to tell her for her sake (though, of course, this is more for Hannah’s sake than anybody else’s). But when Marnie asks her whether or not she’s making a mistake, Hannah restrains herself, supporting Marnie, choosing to let her make her own decision. While she probably should have told Marnie something, it means something that she really is thinking about Marnie’s feelings and about supporting her.

Girls 5x01-4

Source: HBO

There are a couple other developments in this opening episode that are certainly noteworthy, such as Adam and Jessa kissing, that tease storylines and developments for the rest of the season. What’s interesting about this romantic development is that its juxtaposed with Jessa pulling everybody back together at the end of the episode. Jessa has a history of causing chaos and disorder, and she seems to find comfort in bringing everything back together. The question here is what this means for her and Adam’s relationship. Is he going to end up leaning on her, ostracizing her in the process? Is she going to slot him into that role? Jessa’s development as a character will certainly inform her relationship with Adam, hopefully more so than Hannah’s attachment to Adam. However, their romantic relationship is part of a larger problem, which is the group’s inability to really split off and live their lives outside of the cluster. I can say from experience that being part of a small group can occasionally be suffocating, and that it can be tough to split away from those who you’re comfortable with. Nobody in the group (except for Shoshanna, and even she always comes back) is able to really branch off, and it shows their fear of moving on.

Overall, “Wedding Day” was a great way to kick off a new season, though only time will tell if this season is able to achieve more cohesion than the kind-of-flailing last season, where the back half after “Sit-In” was so spread out that it occasionally suffered. Girls works best when it funnels its focus and stays attached to one or two storylines, and “Wedding Day” does a great job sticking to one storyline and occasionally branching off from there. If the rest of the season is anything like this episode, then we’re certainly in for a treat.

What did you all think of the season premiere? Is Girls improving from last season or getting worse? Let me know in the comments!

Michael St. Charles

is just a Michigan State University grad who loves a good story. If he’s not off teaching the young ones how to solve quadratic functions or to write an expository essay, he’s watching old-school HBO shows, indie horror movies, or he’s playing Resident Evil 4.

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