Girls 5×02 ‘Good Man’: A complicated world

Girls 5x02 Cover

The greatest praise I can give “Good Man” isn’t that it’s hilarious (which it most certainly is), but that it has so many storylines and characters and ideas and it still ends up being a great episode. Season 5, more than any season of Girls in recent history, has a grasp on its characters that enhances their interactions with others and the storylines they inhabit. Whether it’s Adam and Jessa, Hannah and Tad, or Ray, Elijah, and the insidious Helvetica (which has taken a stance against lids and is also the name of a sans-serif font), the way that the characters play off of one another seems more alive and more human than last season. Really, “Good Man” is one of the most fun and most exciting episodes of Girls in quite a while.

Girls 5x02-1

Source: HBO

There’s also this ridiculous attention to detail that makes each individual setpiece come a little more alive. The 8th grade girl with the half-empty Starbucks tea, the small dog on the bed of Tad’s hookup, even the costume for the characters working at Helvetica, everything operates to give life and humanity to each of the characters. Because, ultimately, Girls is about individual journey, and everybody has their own journey, trying to figure out who they are and how they fit into the world. The moment with Ray in Helvetica, where he misgenders one of the baristas, is absolutely hilarious, but it speaks to more than just a joke. The person he misgenders, while portrayed in a rather exaggerated and aggressive fashion, still is given a clear personality as somebody who needs to aggressively assert their identity in the world. Girls gives even the slightest of characters some identity to hold onto, and it makes “Good Man” all the better for it.

Girls 5x02-2

Source: HBO

Really, this episode is about the ways that these characters are indeed growing up, even if they’re not entirely sure how to navigate all of the difficult scenarios in their lives. Adam and Jessa’s romance speaks directly to this idea, as they’re both clearly attracted to each other but aren’t sure how to manage both their feelings and their past connection to other people. Adam wants to immediately move into a relationship, but Jessa is a little more reserved. Some of this is because Jessa has destroyed so many relationships over the series in such a violent way that she wants to approach anything with Adam with a little more caution. Adam, on the other hand, has trouble holding back some of his feelings, as he wants to grow up and be in an adult relationship, but doesn’t realize that acting on the intensity of his feelings undercuts his desire to grow up. Their relationship at the amusement park is very sweet, and it starts to brighten Jessa’s disposition, but the most interesting facet of their relationship in this episode comes from the scene where they masturbate together. They are clearly trying to set boundaries (which is progress), but they end up breaking some of those boundaries when they start staring at each other. It goes to show that both characters are trying to be better, but still have a long way to go.

Girls 5x02-3

Source: HBO

Hannah’s story seems disjointed at first, but really revolves around the chaos that ensues from adult life. She exacerbates the situation with Fran’s roommate when she calls him “crazy”, clearly a bad idea considering how unstable he is. She makes her class read Phillip Roth, another bad idea considering how her class is 13 years old. She leaves her classroom in the middle of the day, another bad idea. Hannah still really doesn’t know how to be a responsible adult in the world, but her time with her father speaks to how she’s growing. She could have just left him there, in the hotel room, but she attempted to help him, going back to his hookup to find his wallet, talking through his problems with him, calling Elijah for help when she knew that she wasn’t helping (even though Elijah is clearly too immature to care when the situation inconveniences him). Hannah didn’t necessarily succeed, but she really did try, and that says more than only succeeding because she didn’t put herself out there.

Because that’s how adult life is. You’re always wandering, arms outstretched, hoping that you get through the day without falling on your face. You never know how to deal with every situation, and you never will. The world changes so fast and so many things are thrown at you that all you can do is try to act in the way you believe is right. Sometimes you’ll succeed, sometimes you’ll fail. But the key to how Hannah acts in this episode is that she’s trying. She’s not necessarily succeeding, but trying at least says something about where she was at the beginning of Season 1 and where she is now. There’s progress, even if it’s difficult to see amidst her failures. And that’s something.

What did you think of the episode? Do you think Hannah is slowly growing up? 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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