Girls season 5 premiere recap: Wedding Day
Marnie's wedding day is threatened by rain and passive-aggressive bridesmaids
Grab your flower crowns and PBR! Light your eucalyptus candles and fill your multipurpose wicker bassinets! It’s the return of Girls, and the delightful dark comedy has returned for season 5, somehow managing to become even more hipster than it ever purported to be in its first four rounds.
First, as your new recapper of the show this season, let me make some declarations: I love Girls. I defend Girls to anyone and everyone who comes after it. No other program on TV makes me feel such a strange blend of being genuinely happy watching it while also being so genuinely appalled by how unlikable everyone is. By now, these characters are set in cobblestone; TV viewers are accustomed to getting their way if they make enough of an outcry, but no Twitter complaints are going to change the nature of Girls this late in the game, and they shouldn’t. There is no redemption of Hannah or “fixing” of Marnie — they’re selfish and outrageous and their aggravating decisions just make the show all the more indelible. So join me and embrace the asteroid: Girls is back!
And there’s something special in the artisanal mason-jarred air tonight. It’s the first new episode of Girls under the real-world knowledge that the show will end after season 6. That knowledge brings with it the question of What Was Girls About? because it’s a scientific fact that when any show ends, it has to have been about a whole greater than its parts, like “Oh, Mad Men was Sally’s story all along” or “The West Wing was actually about the White House this whole time.” You better believe we’re going to Mad Men the shit out of Girls and figure out what the series really said about, well, whatever it’s saying.
The season 5 premiere tossed a few balls into the air about the major relationship strings: Does Girls need to end with Hannah and Adam reconciled? Is a Jessa-Adam connection more satisfying and realistic? What should one make of Ray’s unrequited quest for Marnie Python’s passive-aggressive grail? And, moreover, maybe the real question is whether this purported squad can ever truly learn to like one another by series’ end. Girls may very well be the first TV show entirely about the dissolution of an incompatible friend group.
This episode is a rare one, assembling the usually disparate cast into one location for maximum organic locally-sourced high jinks. It’s Marnie and Desi’s wedding! A gorgeous upstate countryside affair, marked by pristine meadows and even more pristine tablescapes. It’s the kind of WASP-meets-hipster engagement that only season 5 Marnie Michaels could pull off, since she has now wholly assumed Desi’s identity and swapped her business dreams for barista nightmares.
Hannah, Jessa, and Shoshanna are her bridesmaids, but they’re mere sidenotes to the wedding day display of the Marniest behavior Marnie has ever Marnied. Her brand of Bridezilla is “pathological zen,” always on the brink of aggression especially since the clouds are threatening to open, her mother is out of control, and she’s not actually friends with any of her bridesmaids anymore. In her exchange with her hair stylist (a genius Bridget Everett), Marnie gets to deliver probably the Marniest line ever uttered on Girls: “I’m totally easy, easygoing girl, you know me, right? And just make sure you run everything by me before it’s final.” Oh Marnie, I love you. You are my favorite soap opera villain moonlighting as an event planner.
Poor Shosh gets the brunt of the bridesmaid work, forced to play the bad guy for Marnie, kick out Hannah’s new boyfriend Fran (Jake Lacy, the sexiest vanilla yogurt we may ever know), and make apologetic eye contact with the hair stylist Marnie scolds. But Shosh, to her credit, is relatively quiet about everything, at least by Shoshanna standards. She’s newly returned and culturally transformed from her job in Japan, rocking a pop of pink hair and a new talent for folding clothes. She’s also decided to go stag at the wedding, reasoning that she shouldn’t rock the boat of her long-distance relationship with Scott (Jason Ritter) by actually seeing him.
Jessa merely breezes through the château, on hand to lend her aura and say Jessa things like, “I just bathed in the stream and then I ran through the field to dry myself.” It’s taken me five seasons to realize that Jessa, for her buoyancy, is actually the most level-headed of the group: She recognizes Marnie’s lunacy, Hannah’s egocentricity, Shoshanna’s cartoon aesthetic, and Adam’s tormented heart. The Jessa-Adam bond was one of the best gems of last season, and now the two have moved on to stealing secret kisses in the garden. It’s an alchemy of wild spirits that, really, may be the best thing to look forward to this season. Though don’t quote me on that.
NEXT: And then there’s Hannah.
Selfish as ever, Hannah demonstrates no support for Marnie and refuses to do the simplest tasks expected of a bridesmaid: change her hair, wear her dress, and not spend the day with her boyfriend. Still, she complains about the bride and has claustrophobic car sex with said boyfriend. If Marnie was born to make demands on her wedding day, Hannah was born to obnoxiously ignore them.
Let’s talk about Hannah’s new beau Fran for a second. He seems like a relatively normal guy, save for the fact that his name is Fran. Inexplicably, he sees something in his co-worker Hannah, and it’s resulted in a healthy relationship going on six months. When he’s booted from the bridesmaids’ club and joins the groomsmen, he’s polite and charming and fits in as well as an outsider can in that group of unfriendly men. He’s super awkward in his macho grunt-off with Adam. He hilariously has to remind Desi, who has forgotten his name, that “we went on a bike ride together, just you and me!” All in all, a great guy — and an inevitably wonderful heart that Hannah is going to somehow find a way to break.
By the way, it’s never really explained why Desi’s groomsmen include Marnie’s straight ex (Ray), Marnie’s one-time gay ex (Elijah), and Marnie’s best friend’s ex (Adam). Does he truly only have one male friend? Elijah and Adam are harmless, but Ray actively and vocally hates Desi, for several reasons beyond just the fact that he’s about to marry the love of Ray’s life. There’s a moment of opportunity for Ray to stop the wedding when Desi gets cold feet and runs outside into the rain, shirtless, screaming in what looks to be a stream/pond/creek/I’m not sure because I have not been in nature in probably a decade. Ray goes in after Desi and tries to give him a pep talk about love and destiny, which I guess is supposed to result in Desi’s decision to call off the marriage, but instead, it galvanizes him to go through with the wedding. Ray, as always, is responsible for his own undoing.
Back to Hannah: It wouldn’t be a wedding without a bridal bathroom breakdown, and Marnie unleashes her wrath on Hannah for not being supportive. “It’s been years since you’ve checked in with me to see where I’m at,” she says, and one must again wonder why these two are even friends anymore. But ultimately, Marnie is projecting her fear that she’s making a mistake by marrying Desi. Hannah, who has learned from Fran that Desi has been engaged seven times and who assumes that Marnie doesn’t know this information, decides to keep that information secret. She encourages Marnie to proceed with the wedding, which is either the best friend move she’s ever made, or the worst.
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They hug it out, and the rain stops, and Jessa — a fashion MacGyver — fixes the running mascara and horrible statement lip that threatened to ruin the ceremony. And Desi’s got his tux on, and Ray hasn’t thrown himself off a cliff yet, and Elijah pops MDMA, and the girls throw off their ponchos and run into the meadow to the tune of Lord Huron’s “Fool for Love,” and the scar had not pained Harry for nineteen years, and all was well.
So that’s the premiere, and it sets up a season of ambling questions: Will Marnie and Desi actually last, or will the seven-engagement secret blow it all up? Will Jessa and Adam go legit? Will Hannah break Fran’s heart? Will Ray inevitably seduce Marnie into adulterous territory? Will we see an entire episode about Shoshanna’s life in Japan? Why does Rita Wilson have a brass knuckle phone case? Who shot Annalise?
Grass-Fed Free Range Sound Bites:
“Honestly, you look like a Starbucks cup.” —Mrs. Michaels to Marnie, completely accurate in her observations
“I was on the Vans Warped Tour and saw Vanessa Hudgens in the pit and she had one of these crowns on and you look just like her.” —Bebe, who also did Sophia Bush’s wedding
“I thought meditation was just naps, but it’s like a whole thing.” —National treasure Elijah
“I don’t want no big top.” —Shoshanna, offering a hot take on circuses