Much of Girls so far has dealt with romantic relationships. But in last night's episode, "Bad Friend," the drama centered on the hard work of handling friendships. Namely, best friendships. The inevitable showdown between Hannah and Marnie showdown has been simmering since the beginning of this season and this week the tension finally exploded in a coke-and-terrible-sex-with-a-terrible-artist-fueled rampage.
Marnie and Hannah's relationship was a timebomb heading into this episode. First, the two were still simmering from the argument that caused Marnie to move out of their shared apartment at the end of last season. Then, Hannah did some serious judging of Marnie's new "pretty person" job as a club hostess. Oh, and Marnie secretly had sex with Hannah's maybe-not-gay-after-all ex-boyfriend Elijah.
In the beginning of "Bad Friend." Hannah finally finds an outlet that is willing to pay her for her writing: jazzhate, an uber-hip blog that's a jab at New York's unique genre of problematic hipster publications. Hannah's editor wants her to write something "edgy." That translates into two options: either having a threesome with people she's met off Craigslist or doing a bunch of coke. Hannah goes with the latter, despite her weird nasal passages and inexperience doing cocaine.
Hannah procures the coke from downstairs neighbor Laird, who Marnie claims is a junkie. We learn that Laird is now clean, but is willing to get the coke for Hannah because he has a huge crush on her. Hannah, per usual, is oblivious to the problems of both these realities.
Hannah's guide into the land of cocaine is Elijah—he's the only other person who doesn't have anything to do on a Wednesday afternoon. Elijah says he's hoping they have a night where it's suddenly 5 am and one of them has punched "someone who has been on a Disney show." Their coke itinerary consists of the following:
• Giving each other massages while Hannah talks about how although she's against the marriage industrial complex, she really wants to wear a veil and try fifteen kinds of wedding cake. Elijah mentions that he'd like to visit a prison.
• Writing, which was the point of the two doing coke. However, the only writing Hannah does is some scrawls on her bedroom wall.
• Riding the subway in terror on their way to to see Andrew and Andrew, gay/brand consultants/IPad djs.
• Hannah trades tops with her dancing friend at Andrew and Andrew's set, donning a a see-through mesh number that is bound to put the Lena Dunham body haters into a tizzy (groan).
• Learning that Hannah's greatest dream and nightmare is to have sex with herself.
While Hannah and Elijah are having their coke adventure, Marnie is at work at her new "pretty person" job as a club hostess. There, she runs into Booth Jonathan. Yes, the same Booth Jonathan, the sexy, insufferable artist who last season confidently told Marnie that he might scare her when he inevitably fucks her because he's a "man."
Right off the bat, Booth is terrible to Marnie, calling her Maddie and being completely dismissive of what she's doing. This sparks Marnie to insult Booth's work:
"You're like a conman who somehow convinces people to pay way too much money for derivative art by convincing anyone who has never heard of Damien Hirst that you are a genius."
Unsurprisingly, Booth likes being insulted by Marnie and the two go to his place. Booth shows Marnie his art—which is completely terrible and consists of weird dollhouses smeared with his own blood. He locks Marnie in a bizarre video structure that plays images of crying babies, decaying dogs and bodies of water set to Duncan Sheik's "Barely Breathing." When she emerges from Booth's "art," Marnie declares him "so fucking talented," which is clearly untrue.
Then comes the sex scene that we have all been anticipating since Marnie first masturbated in a public restroom while thinking of the intolerable artist. Booth, much like his art, doesn't live up to the hype. Just to give you a hint: He sets up a doll to watch them have sex. In my new favorite Marnie moment, after they are done, she starts laughing hysterically.
While both Hannah and Marnie are on completely different trajectories in this episode, the ultimate action is when they finally come together. After Hannah and Elijah decide to do more lines in the club bathroom, Elijah decides he wants to be so, so honest with Hannah and tells her he had sex with Marnie. Elijah's sexuality right now is still pretty uncertain for him, so he's been looking at his brief 2.5-pump tryst with Marnie as a way of figuring out what he wants sexually, saying, "If that's what it took to accept myself then, as Rizzo in Grease would say, 'There are worse things I could do.'" Granted, that's a completely selfish statement (done in the worst possible environment possible) but I like that Elijah is trying to figure out what he wants. Hannah, of course, does not see it this way. She's automatically as upset as Elijah had previously (and soberly) estimated she would be.
In a drugstore pilgrimage to find Elijah unknown supplements, Hannah continues to question Elijah on his sexuality, even going as far to kiss him. Elijah is frustrated that Hannah has managed to make his sexuality all about her. He explains that on his own path to find "an honest sexuality," he shouldn't have to explain to Hannah if Marnie's chapstick and Trident gum turned him on—that's all none of her business. And Elijah's right, it isn't any of Hannah's business, although I'll be curious to see how the continued storyline of Elijah's bisexuality continues to play out, especially if he dates a woman.
After receiving a text from Marnie that she's at Booth Jonathan's, they set off to Booth's place to the complete surprise of Marnie.
That's when everything goes down.
In my experience, my most rewarding and difficult friendships have been with my female friends. For whatever reason, female friendships are beyond complex—rife with intense love and adoration, insane jealousy and ridiculous competition. But at the core, these relationships have a devotion that is hard to shake. Regardless of whether I'm are 24, 28, or 35—at times my female friendships make me feel like you are in high school all over again: that I'm 16 and beyond stoked to have found someone who loves Bikini Kill and slasher flicks as much as I do... and then completely heartbroken that this same beloved person kissed my crush. Within all friendships, weird roles are assigned. When we screw these roles up or become resentful of them, the dynamics of the friendship change—for better or worse.
That personal experience with complicated female friendships is what makes the Hannah and Marnie's confrontation resonate with me. The Hannah and Marnie confrontation starts off with Hannah's conflicted feelings about Marnie's sexual activity. Hannah's clearly excited that Marnie finally slept with Booth after weeks of walking back and forth outside his apartment. But that doesn't lessen the hurt she feels about Eljiah and Marnie.
Hannah tells Marnie, "What I actually need is for you to recognize that maybe I'm not the bad friend and you're not the good friend. I don't need to play by your rules anymore. "
Hannah goes on to elaborate upon Marnie's rules (which include: going to the faraway Rite Aid for her prescriptions, the importance of Hannah wearing appropriate pants, and always having to go to Serendipity with her dad's stewardess girlfriend, Elodie), but says those rules are not important.
"That's not what makes someone a good or a bad friend. What makes you a good friend is not doing something you know will intentionally really hurt another person. And you did that."
The argument ends with Marnie yelling that she's not a good friend and that she's going to throw up, while Hannah says they can still be friends as long as Marnie recognizes she's not a good friend. It's completely brutal and heartbreaking to watch but so so uncomfortably familiar.
Despite the controversy over Dunham's body or the portrayals of terribly awkward sex or whatever new problem there is with Girls, at the heart of the show is a great analysis of friendships between women. The show isn't afraid to portray these relationships as complicated as they really are: joyful, ugly, messy, competitive relationships that and can be the most rewarding relationships we have in our lives.
Quick List: Other Important Factoids from "Bad Friends":
• The girls have a garage sale, where we learn Shoshanna is cranky because Ray stayed up watching old Ally McBeal episodes.
• Hannah's current WIFI name is muffinsaretasty. Previously was madamovaries.
• Laird only has pomegranate juice in his refrigerator.
• Booth Jonathan uses AOL.
• "She's very ribby." – Elijah on sleeping with Marnie.
• Oh and, Hannah sleeps with Laird.