We’ve been hearing it nonstop since the second the credits rolled Sunday night on HBO‘s Girls: Lena Dunham‘s sartorially-challenged, not-tiny, small-breasted character Hannah could not bed mega-hot doctor Joshua, played by The Watchmen‘s Patrick Wilson.
The other thing we’ve been hearing since Sunday night is the high-pitched whistling sound of my brain evaporating out of my ears because I simply cannot take it anymore.
If you don’t watch the show, a brief recap of the episode, “One Man’s Trash“: twentysomething train-wreck Hannah (Dunham) follows fortysomething Joshua (Wilson) back to his swank, grown-up brownstone to apologize for dumping trash from her workplace in his trash can – a crime he’d ascribed to Hannah’s boss moments earlier. The good doctor (the best doctor, apparently), bewitched by Hannah’s quirk and moxie, then, um, dumps some trash in her can. And they spend 24 blissful hours being in a couple that has a twenty year age gap and first name knowledge only between them. Hannah, being Hannah, gets awkward, self-involved, and embarrassed by how much she enjoys this sanitized Sex and the City experience of glossy wood floors and multiple showerheads, and in the end explodes the tryst and leaves Dr. Hottington behind.
And whether it’s because she spent parts of the episode playing topless ping pong or because people think she’s bottom-heavy, viewers and reviewers alike WERE AGHAST.
I’m not the first person online to say, “What the fuck?” or to call out the unabated, unabashed misogyny in boiling down Hannah’s value as a partner to only her looks (not to mention questioning her sexual behavior and not Joshua’s), or to giggle-gag when Entertainment Weekly suggested the entire episode was all a dream, because how could it even be possible that someone who looks like HIM (Patrick Wilson) would get with HER (Lena Dunham) anywhere BUT in a dream?
Nor am I the first to observe that women have been just as vociferous in their criticism of the episode, from Twitter to the XX Factor at Slate, where the female columnists mostly get it right except for quoting then explicitly failing to refute a Paste writer’s analogy to Louie, which drops in “moments of fantasy into the show’s ‘reality’ without announcing them as such.” Yes, Hannah is playing out (and then throwing several grenades at) a wifey fantasy, but the moment you pretend it is actual fantasy – Family Guy-meets-Dream On-flashback fantasy – you join the ranks of people who are looking for a reason, any reason, to not have their bullshit rules, beliefs and perceptions challenged.
Is Hannah unlikable? Yep. And it’s good she is. Because not every woman on TV has to be Mary Tyler Effing Moore. Nor does every offbeat, possibly-unlikable-but-we-can’t-commit female character have to be “mea culpa cute.”
Did Lena Dunham do this to shit stir? It’s fair to say yes, she did. But did we blow – oh I don’t know, who’s a self-involved writer wunderkind with unlikable protagonists… oh wait I KNOW – Woody Allen half of this shit for being woefully unlikable, whiny, spoiled, not conventionally attractive, and YET sleeping with dazzling beauties in, oh, EVERY movie ever? Nope! And, furthermore, did we ask Allen to be a standards-bearer for all weird-looking men, seeking the Weird Men message in every move he made? Did we label him King of All Men (as Lena Dunham was assigned her feminist crown before we asked her if she wanted it)? Naw, we just sorta let him fuck people. Whatevs.
Again, I’m not the first person online to go on a similar rant, but I will be the first to point out that as my husband and I were watching the show trying to remember why Patrick Wilson first got famous, we landed on, “Oh yeah! he played the pedophile in Hard Candy.” The one who made the mistake of luring a young teen (Ellen Page) to his house to play topless ping pong with, only to nearly have his balls “returned.” Help me out because I don’t remember — did anyone worry over whether Ellen page was “hot enough” to land Patrick Wilson? They didn’t?
Okay, so let me get this straight: sex with kids = plausible. But sex with ordinary-looking chicks? Don’t be silly! Remember the rules, Lena/Hannah, and go find yourself a nice… Hell, I don’t know WHAT you should find. Have you asked the internet?
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