Girls 5×04 ‘Queen for Two Days’: Action or inaction

Girls 5x05 Cover

One thing that separates childhood from adulthood is action. Children are reactive beings, their emotions largely controlled by the circumstances around them. It’s different with adults. Adults have to be able to assess situations and act accordingly, and if they want to react, that reaction still has to be somewhat calculated. Does my reaction put me in danger? Does my reaction hurt other people? Does my reaction make sense considering the context? Adulthood is difficult because it means being better than you were as a child. It means failing, taking risks, learning. And that can be a lot to take on when you’re in your early twenties.

Source: HBO

Source: HBO

“Queen for Two Days” really is an exploration of what it means to be a woman, and what it means to learn as a woman. Hannah, with her mother, attends a rejuvenation weekend meant for women, and it’s an experience that she largely rejects. It makes sense that she would reject it; Hannah has always had a rebellious streak, and she rejects the notion that other people have the key to her development as a person. She repeatedly breaks the “no screens” rule (which, let’s be real, is a ridiculous rule) because she doesn’t see the value in what it is that the weekend is supposed to provide for her. Sometimes Hannah comes across as petulant, and sometimes she comes across and grating, but Hannah really has no idea how to move forward in her life and doesn’t want to be told by anybody else how to do it. It’s why, at the end of the weekend, she has what is presumably her first same-sex sexual experience going down on one of the women that runs the retreat. She wants to take control of her life instead of having other people tell her what to do. Ultimately, it’s a bizarre experience, and she cheats on Fran, but she’s taking charge of her life, taking action instead of simply reacting.

Source: HBO

Source: HBO

Shoshanna has a much harder time taking action. She’s still in Japan, working at a cat café, dating Yoshi, and while it’s an action that she has taken in order to take control of her life, she finds that path horribly isolating. It’s a little easier to take action when you have a safety net around you, the ability to fall back on friends and family when your actions fail you. But Shoshanna is completely alone, surrounded by people she simply doesn’t have close ties with. Yoshi might be great for her, but he’s too new to bring her the deep connection she needs. So she breaks down, unable to really deal with feeling as poorly as she does, unable to figure out what action to take that doesn’t mean going home to America. Not that going home to America would necessarily be a complete failure. Moving to Japan might not have worked out for her, but it’s an action that she took, and it means something that she took it.

Source: HBO

Source: HBO

Jessa is probably the most improved character of the series, as her new direction towards being a therapist is a wild departure from her more self-destructive behavior. She’s still going out with Adam, and her relationship with him is relatively stable, despite a couple differences between them. It’s when they meet up with Jessa’s sister, Minerva, that she’s forced to take action. She needs money for her schooling, and she’s out of money while Minerva still gets quite a bit from her grandmother. Of course, Minerva, using Jessa’s past behavior as a reference point, completely rejects that. Seeing Jessa’s desperation, Adam steps in and decides to pay for her schooling. It’s a huge step, probably much bigger than Adam should be making, but Jessa’s reaction goes to show that she’s slowly learning how to not only accept love form others, but a new vision of herself. It’s entirely possible that she will revert back to old behaviors, but it’s also possible that having her best self affirmed will help her slowly transform into what it is that she wants to be. Adam’s love, while a little suffocating, might be the step she needs to become something better.

Girls’ fifth season is still very strong, much stronger than the somewhat disjointed fourth season. And what makes it so strong is this shift from reaction to action. We’re now seeing how these girls take note of the circumstances around them and then act in order to move in the directions they desire. Some of that movement is still sporadic and flailing, but movement is always that way. Hannah, Shoshanna, and Jessa (and maybe Marnie, when we see her next week) are slowly figuring out how to act, and while it’s producing imperfect results, it means something that they are trying.

What do you think of the season now that we’re at the halfway point? Is it getting better or 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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