Marnie hosts a party with Booth, Hannah gets an eBook deal, and Adam and Ray go to Staten Island

By Lindsey Bahr
Updated March 10, 2015 at 12:07 AM EDT
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Credit: Jessica Miglio/HBO
S2 E6
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  • HBO

After Hannah’s lost weekend episode, Girls returned this week with “Boys.” Don’t let the title necessarily deceive you. Though things are a little bit more focused on the men – namely Ray, Adam, and Booth – everything comes back to the girls and how their expectations, their actions, and their assumptions all work to destroy, frustrate, and captivate the men around them.

The episode opens with Hannah having drinks with a middle-aged writer and publisher (played by John Cameron Mitchell, Hedwig and the Angry Itch). He’s that sort of manic, aloof, and overly excitable stereotype of someone who has probably been in the New York publishing world too long. He compliments and possibly insults Hannah’s writing, (“they’re very sweet, naive and infuriating”) and explains to her that his mission is to do something that’s high/low. “Like Target?” Hannah asks. In his mind, Hannah is perfect unknown to be the voice of her lost generation, and he tasks her with writing that eBook. In a month. For the rest of the episode, Hannah remains in a daze. She’s half there in all her interactions and you can see the stress of this insane deadline just eating away at her. But, coming off of last week’s Hannah-centric episode, she’s just a background through line.”Boys” focuses on Marnie and Booth, and Ray and Adam.

In a distinct contrast to Hannah’s time with Joshua (Patrick Wilson) last week, we meet up with Marnie and Booth comfortably lounging in bed. Even in the first moments of their conversation, it’s clear that she thinks that their relationship is something that it’s not. Booth could not be less interested in hearing about Hannah, or, basically anything Marnie has to say, but she doesn’t see it like that. She’s still too blinded by his fancy life. After Booth loses his assistant in a very Sex and the City manner, he asks Marnie to help host his party that evening.

Marnie, assuming that this is the next step in their relationship, takes her responsibility very seriously. She goes out and buys a ridiculous outfit with a gold lamé bustier and a sheer plastic overlay. At the party, she plays the part of the social butterfly of the art world. She is outwardly embarrassed when Hannah arrives in an unassuming chambray dress and anorak. Marnie has decided that these are her people and that she fits the part perfectly — she’s the social climber who doesn’t realize she’s a social climber. And now that she’s found a wealthy, “interesting” artist, who is solidly part of the scene she so desperately wants to be in, she’s thrilled.

NEXT: When the party ends, the truth comes out…

But when the party ends, Booth asks her if $500 is enough. She laughs, but he’s not kidding. Booth tells her that it actually makes a lot of sense, that she’s a hostess so this is kind of her job anyway. Also, she is certainly not his girlfriend. Out of embarrassment, Marnie starts to cry and tells him that she’s not the girl to confuse being in a relationship and not being in a relationship, but of course, she just has. I believe that Marnie’s never had to deal with this before, but she’s met her match in Booth. He’s that sort of hilarious, overconfident, narcissistic jerk who just sort of wafts through life and women without giving much thought to either.

As a last resort, she even tries to talk him up — his art, his personality. It is particularly devastating. I’m surprised they didn’t drag this relationship out longer, and played a little bit more with Marnie’s delusions of grandeur, but it’s best that it’s over. On some level, she was probably just enchanted by his life and the idea of being the girlfriend of a successful and trendy artist, even though she might not realize that yet.

Humiliated and defeated, and probably in some debt from that dress, Marnie takes the subway home. When she calls Hannah, they both talk past each other. Hannah tells her she went home to write and that it’s going well. Marnie tells her that she and Booth are on the patio watching fireflies. And neither wants to admit to the other that things suck and they’re both unhappy. As the audience, you just want one of them to ask if the other’s okay so they can go get a drink or some ice cream or just sit and talk or some other cliché, and realize that their problems are not the end of the world. But ever since Marnie and Hannah stopped being roommates, they’ve been in a performance mode with each other.

Ray, meanwhile, takes his own little adventure outside of his life. He realizes he’d lent Hannah his copy of Little Women, and that she’d left it at Adams. Obviously Hannah is not going to go to Adam’s, so, it’s up to Ray. This is why you should never lend books to anyone or, if you do, you should just resign yourself to the fact that it might be gone forever.

We haven’t seen Adam since the incident with the police at Hannah’s apartment, and he’s been sorely missed in the Girls world. This episode didn’t really promise or imply that we’ll be getting any more Adam, but it was pretty fantastic to have him back being weird and honest and heartbroken — especially in contrast to the ever-cynical Ray.

Apparently Adam did end up spending a night in jail — and looks somewhat traumatized by the experience. He had to share a cell with a yoga teacher, he explains, hilariously. I really hope that there’s some short film on the season 2 DVD extras that’s just Adam’s night in jail with the yoga instructor. When Ray goes to get his copy of Little Women from Adam’s bathroom, he’s shocked to discover a violent, angry dog behind the door. Its name? Dog. So Holly Golightly, right? It turns out Adam stole the dog, but of course he had a reason for it. The owner had been yelling at it, and tied it up outside a coffee shop, so Adam took it upon himself to save it from what seems like a miserable life. This…was sort of a Portlandia sketch, but it also works for Adam. His manic sincerity makes the situation totally believable.

NEXT: Ray and Adam go to Staten Island…

Ray convinces Adam that they need to return it to its owner on Staten Island, and the two almost-strangers embark on a ferry trip across the river. Is it a little weird how shows like Girls and Louie use Staten Island as a retreat from Manhattan and Brooklyn? It’s this other world of no-nonsense working class sensibilities that’s used to show our out-of-touch intellectuals that there are other ways of life.

Anyway, Ray is his condescending self and makes a lot of references to being smarter than Adam, while still managing to sort of bond with him. They talk about how women are best when they’re under 18 or over 40. The under 18-year-olds are vulnerable, and the over 40s are comfortable and expectation-less. Ray’s feeling too much pressure from Shoshanna and, I guess, has no one to talk about it with. In the beginning of the episode, Shoshanna tried to convince him to take a class to hear Donald Trump lecture, hoping that maybe he’d be inspired to be an entrepreneur. I’m sure this isn’t an infrequent topic of conversation since it was revealed two episodes ago that Ray is essentially homeless. She even confides to Marnie that he took her on a date to get tacos. Shoshanna lives in a world of movie-created delusions and believes sincerely that dates need roses and mood lighting. She wants to be courted. And Ray is probably not the guy for that.

Ray, for all his intelligence and confidence, is perhaps the most stunted of all of the characters on the show. He seems to have just wafted through his 20s doing his thing at an ironic and always superior distance, and suddenly realized that he’s 33 and has no goals, no money, and no idea what he’s doing. As ridiculous as Adam might be sometimes, he’s passionate and takes his life experiences seriously, whether it’s his love, his addiction, or his art. Their fight is great. Ray wants to joke about Hannah, and Adam is having none of it. Adam tells Ray that his relationship with Shoshanna is false, that he’s hiding behind her because she’s safe and that they’re just “babies holding hands.” Ray and Adam are kind of two takes on modern men. Neither knows what they’re supposed to be aiming for. They know that women are involved, but what do they want? Marriage, a house, and babies? An intellectual soul mate? Someone to just have fun with for a little while?

Overall, “Boys” was a great episode, and really got at the vulnerabilities of some of the characters who’ve only existed in the background while still managing to be funny. What do you think of Marnie’s cold dose of reality? What do you think is next for her? And Ray? What does Ray want? Does this episode make you question his relationship with Shoshanna?

Quote of the Night:

“Don’t compare Hannah to this piece of s— dog.” -Adam

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Girls

Four young ladies live in New York City, and it’s SO hard.
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