03/20/17 2:44pm
GIRLS

Jersey strong

The more things change, the more things stay the same, except for Hannah, I guess. Her life is facing a slew of changes, and it seems like she’s not only changing too, but changing for the best.

We begin with a very typical salad dinner for Marnie that Hannah has orchestrated to tell her about her pregnancy. (Literally the only carb Marnie could stand at dinner is Hannah’s bun in the oven.) Shockingly, Marnie takes the news of Hannah’s impending motherhood pretty well. It’s not until they disagree over informing the father that the typical sharp edges of their friendship show through. (more…)

03/13/17 12:37pm
What do you get the mom that has nothing? Weed gummies, obviously.

What do you get the mom that has nothing? Weed gummies, obviously.

Ready or not, here comes mama. Mama’s talkin’ loud, mama’s doin’ fine, except she’s really not doing fine at all. It’s more like Mama’s eating too many weed gummies and vomiting in Chinese restaurants. Let’s see Bernadette Peters try that.

Hannah’s mom Loreen is in town, and she’s in rough shape. These days she’s got a sweet medical marijuana hookup, and spends her lonely days stoned. As she munches on her first gummy worm, Hannah drops the bomb that she’s pregnant. Loreen reacts with a ton of chill, because she realizes Hannah feels like this really is her baby. (more…)

03/06/17 2:06pm
Feud: Season fourteen.

Feud, season fourteen, Hannah and Jessa.

Papa don’t preach, but also Patrick Wilson don’t preach. Just when you thought this week’ episode of Girls, “Painful Evacuation,” was all out of twists and turns, one shocker followed another until we were so overwhelmed we collapsed right into Elijah’s briefs. Hannah’s in trouble deep.

After last week’s stunning “American Bitch,” an episode that I’ve personally witnessed no less than half a dozen conversations about on the streets of Brooklyn since it aired, we’re back in the throes of our core characters’ daily drama. This was an episode HBO withheld from critics/lowly television recappers, which generally means it’s going to be chock full of surprises. Boy howdy, was it. (more…)

02/27/17 1:41pm
Hannah and Chuck Palmer square off.

Hannah and Chuck Palmer square off.

Let’s cut to the chase: Last night’s episode of Girls is not the kind of thing that lends itself to the kinds of flip, jokey recaps we typically produce. In fact, being the one to discuss the episode at all feels slightly icky, as it focuses specifically on the experiences of young women placed in uncomfortable positions where power dynamics complicate consent. (I re-read that last sentence at least six times, and I’m still not sure it properly says what I want it to.) Still, the episode necessitates conversation, and I hope this post creates space in the comments and social media for others to weigh in with their takes. (Plus my editor shot down my earlier attempts of getting out of this.)

Let’s all try our best, OK?

(more…)

02/20/17 2:26pm
Heels on wheels.

Heels on wheels.

Two’s company, but three’s a crowd, unless it’s three people going together to Poughkeepsie, in which case you might need that third person to keep your ex-husband from shimmying down the chimney to get his Oxycontin.

Finally, someone is portraying the real millennial Brooklyn. The one that confronts their Oxycontin ex-husband in Poughkeepsie.

Allow me to explain. Marnie and Desi are still being so gross, and they decide to take a road trip to romantic Poughkeepsie for reasons that remain unclear. To help mask the charade, Hannah tags along. While squirreled away in their cabin, Marnie finds Desi’s mason jar full of Oxycontin, because — twist! — he’s been addicted to Oxy this whole time. Marnie, of course, does the entirely wrong thing, smashing his mason jar and stomping on his stash, turning Desi into a full-blown Marky Mark Fear monster, smashing windows and terrorizing Hannah and Marnie for a weird horror movie segment. The whole situation allows Hannah to drop some knowledge on Marnie: Maybe she didn’t realize her husband was pounding Oxy like they’re fucking Mentos because she’s too busy always thinking of her self. Mind blown. (more…)

02/13/17 11:13am
You can keep Montauk, just leave us the Rockaways.

You can keep Montauk, just leave us the Rockaways.

Beyoncé once said, “The best revenge is your paper,” which is true, unless you’re Hannah Horvath, and the best revenge is writing about how your best friend stole your boyfriend and you didn’t bother warning her about his oral herpes in the paper of record. The final season of Lena Dunham’s iconic, infuriating, painful and sometimes painfully accurate portrayal of millennial aging and angst kicked off last night by setting its protagonist on a path of something that almost looks like success.

Hannah’s “triumphant” performance on the Moth has led to a Modern Love column in The New York Times which has in turn led to some freelance work for something called SlagMag. The editor (played with perfect emotional disregard by the hilarious Chelsea Peretti) sends Hannah up to Montauk to infiltrate (and inevitably fail at) a bougie surf class for bored ladies. She, of course, fakes an injury to her “front arm” and ditches almost immediately, opting instead to down electric blue cocktails and sun her open vagina. It’s not a total loss, though. She ends up on a whirlwind romantic adventure with the hot (but dim) surf instructor Paul-Louis (The Night Of’s Riz Ahmed) that includes sloppy fucking on a beach, Cheetos, Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper and vomiting off the side of a bunkbed. Oh, and an acoustic jam of soft alt-rock, mid-tempo classic “She’s So High.” (more…)

10/21/16 11:32pm
The Guy (Ben Sinclair) gives us a peek into his own life for the first time in the finale. Photo by Craig Blankenhorn/HBO.

The Guy (Ben Sinclair) gives us a peek into his own life for the first time in the finale. Photo by Craig Blankenhorn/HBO.

One of the more commonly held themes (maybe even beliefs) about New York is that it is a pit of loneliness, where you can never feel more isolated while surrounded by millions of people. 30 Rock encapsulated New York’s uncanny ability to grind you down perfectly here. This can feel like a shitty city, especially during any given rush hour on the subway. In High Maintenance’s season finale, however, the final story they have to tell is about the kindness of strangers and acquaintances, that sprouts like weeds (nice) through the cracks in the pavement.

This shouldn’t be a surprise. After a season of stories all across the map, this episode focuses on one of its main, underlying themes. This is a city where people don’t just lock their doors, they often deadbolt and chain them. That can start to feel pretty normal after a while, even if you grew up in a rural area where people don’t carry around house keys because the door is always open, but it has a psychic effect as well: we become closed off, silos living in our own personal narratives. High Maintenance is actively trying to fight this mindset, to open us up to the world around us, to the human stories going on right under our noses. Most of all, it’s trying to open us up to our neighbors, either because they can help us, or we can help them. (more…)

10/14/16 11:32pm
Hannibal Buress (playing himself) and The Guy (Ben Sinclair) go deep on meta this week. Photo by Craig Blankenhorn/HBO.

Hannibal Buress (playing himself) and The Guy (Ben Sinclair) go deep on meta this week. Photo by Craig Blankenhorn/HBO.

We live in a world where we’re constantly bombarded by media. Our interactions with the world are filtered through our phones, to the point that even television shows conceive of “second screen experiences” for us to look at and interact with when not watching the actual program. Most of us get our news through aggregators of news, repackaging content in smaller, easily digestible, easily forgettable pieces. When a friend tells us they’re “taking a break” from social media and deleting their accounts, it’s pretty commonplace, if maybe seen as a bit extreme. Is there any other technology in our lives that could feel so oppressive, we actually have to physically remove its presence? And yet media is so ubiquitous that we can’t actually escape it, so the result is a strange and tense relationship with media, as this week’s episode, “Selfie” illustrates.

“Selfie” goes heavy on the meta. It’s a creative reflection not just on the characters, but on the series itself. Given how politically fraught this year is, maybe there hasn’t been enough time for High Maintenance to go through the typical cycle of critical acclaim and then suffer the backlash of a thousand think pieces (we hope this is true, at least), but the show’s creators seem happy to confront their own demons before anyone else has a chance. This is a hard look in the mirror that they’re taking, asking themselves if their concept itself is problematic.

The episode doesn’t let us forget that the show traffics in privileged territory, where tales of a drug dealer operating in New York are allowed to be whimsical because the weed dealer, and many of his clients, are white. Whether critics give the show a pass on this or not, creators Katja Blichfeld and Ben Sinclair don’t seem to want it. (more…)

10/07/16 11:30pm
Kristen Hung, Clem Cheung. photo: Craig Blankenhorn

Joon (Kristen Hung) and Wei (Clem Cheung), two can-collecting parents in New York. Photo by Craig Blankenhorn/HBO.

A baby plays in the living room of a Brooklyn brownstone while her mother tells The Guy about their trip to Montauk and the tick that bit her daughter. She laments about how they didn’t even really want to go, and now a tick will “murder” their daughter. “Don’t blame the tick, babe,” her husband responds, “It’s the Lyme Disease inside the tick that will kill our daughter.”

“Like a ticking time-bomb,” The Guy interjects with a grin at the pun. But is it a pun, The Guy? IS IT REALLY???

Though the title of this week’s episode “Tick”appears to directly reference that anecdote, The Guy’s word-association is a more appropriate interpretation for this episode. Through the juxtaposition of families, generations, relationships and even objects and technology, this episode presents a meditation on time, how the passage of it affects us all, and what we can and should expect waiting for us.

While it might seem downright morbid to think about time in relation to us (it keeps going, we don’t), and how one day it is we who will be out of touch with current trends and our own children, there’s a positive message in the image of recycling throughout the episode. Yes, it’s depressing to think about growing old and being out of touch, and more depressing that your attempts to hold onto youth are mocked, but it’s still possible to regain your youth and be transformed into something new, even if it means smoking weed and going to day raves. It’s possible to be recycled into something new, and it’s also possible to find a community of people who don’t care that you’re an Old who sometimes says “Ha-cha-cha-cha!” (more…)

09/24/16 11:09am
(Shazi Raja) ditches the hijab as she tries to get The Guy (Ben Sinclair) to sell to her. Via screenshot.

Eesha (Shazi Raja) ditches the hijab as she tries to get The Guy (Ben Sinclair) to sell to her. Via screenshot.

This episode brings us two stories that are as disparate as it gets. What does an apartment of swingers have to do with a Pakistani college student smoking pot, other than New York real estate? The connection might seem hard to draw, but that’s kind of what makes this show great, and perhaps the greater message at play in the whole series. Our lives may seem so far away from each other most of the time, but seen in the right light, we can draw connecting themes and emotions, and maybe see some of ourselves in the unfamiliar, whether it’s living in a Muslim household, being polyamorous or dealing pot. That’s obviously an ambitious goal, but how do they execute it here? As with last week, the title might be a clue.

The episode is called “Museebat,” which my editor was eager to inform me means “misfortune” or “calamity” in Urdu, and then tried pushing the phonic connection to “chlamydia.” Guys, this is a game we can all play from week to week! But what kind of calamity are we dealing with? I would argue that it’s the calamity that comes when you’re living two different and incompatible lives. (more…)