Throughout this season, the characters of Girls have been trying on different lives and personas. They try to be different people and better people, eventually defaulting back to the familiar and the easy.
In night's episode, "Video Games", a minor character says she believes life is one big simulation—a video game. That sounds ridiculous, but it's an apt description for what Jessa experiences in this episode as she tries to reconnect with her absent father and play the role of daughter.
The episode starts with Jessa and Hannah to go see Jessa's father, who Jessa hasn't seen in years and is living in the country with his girlfriend Petula and her son, Frank. Throughout the whole episode, Hannah is in rough shape: She has a UTI and describes it in the most accurate language. "My urine feels so daggery."
Jessa seems to have learned a sense of time from her father, who shows up extremely late to pick up the pair. At first their visit is fine—Hannah gets to pet a rabbit and the father-daughter joke in accents which Hannah doesn't get. Jessa opens up about her marriage to her father saying that Thomas John didn't want to work on it to which her father simply responds "We aren't like other people." And Jessa, rather sadly, says, "We are aren't we."
Sidenote: While we are on the Thomas John front, is anyone else a little baffled about how Jessa is taking this? I feel like it wasn't established that she even really liked him, so it just seems strange by how devastated she is by the dissolution of it all.
Anyway, at Jessa's family dinner, where they are eating the rabbit Hannah had previously pet, we learn that Jessa had canceled on her father the last 6 times she was supposed to come so he didn't bother to change his plans for the evening. This transitions into a wacky B-plot, which for me didn't work with the general tone of the episode. In this subplot, Hannah and Jessa go out with Frank and his friend. They drive around in a convertible, doing whippits and drinking a 40, which Jessa justifies stealing because "it's from a corporation." Hannah, doesn't want to do whippits but she does end up having terrible 8-second sex with Frank in a graveyard. Jessa tells Hannah she's disgusting because Frank's a child (he's 19). Hannah's confused—she thought the friends were on a sexcapade weekend, turns out they're not. To add to the terribleness of the sex, we later learn that it was only Frank's second time having sex and he believes that she used him for sex.
After the non-sexcapade, Jessa can't sleep—and not just because Hannah is hogging the blankets. Jessa realizes she wasn't in the right mental headspace to see her father. Trying to be helpful, Hannah says that no one is ever in the right headspace to see their parents. But this mostly pisses Jessa off: "Don't talk about our parents like they are the same kind of parents."
Jessa wants what Hannah takes for granted: supportive and loving parents who treat her as the child not vice versa. What happens when you don't have the safety net of a family for support? These are clearly some of the things on Jessa's mind when she confronts her dad about not being in her life.
Jessa berates her dad for not being able to stay in the same place, for leaving his last girlfriend and child as if it was a "casual fucking thing," and for not taking her calls when things between she and her mother were terrible.
His response is, "Think I can rely on you?" To which Jessa replies, "You shouldn't have to. I'm the child." And in that one sentence, I feel like Jessa's character makes more sense. She gets herself into these situations and blindly stumbles back to her father, aching for a relationship that isn't there. Then she's surrounded by friends, who while supportive, can't even comprehend the kind of relationship she has with her family—one predicated on walkouts and phone silence or the child taking care of the parents—as opposed to weekly check-ins and family dinners. That feeling of having no one who can understand where you are coming from is a painfully lonely one.
Jessa's father promises to make a family dinner and drops them off to get groceries. He never shows back up. Jessa knows that this is going to happen and she runs, leaving a note for Hannah that she'd see her around.
Hannah, in a rare fit of self-awareness, calls her own parents. She thanks them for being supportive and wonderful and even though Hannah's mom says that they aren't "falling for her crap," we know that Hannah's parents would be there in the end after misguided marriages or failed New York dreams.
Quick List: Other Favorite Factoids from "Video Games"
- Jessa speaks out about potential sexual abuse from a creepy substitute teacher. Similarly to Hannah's admission in "One Man's Trash," she weirdly writes it off as "Yeah, it maybe probably happened." All the vagueness about these abuse scenarios is rather strange.
- "Is that really what computers used to look like? They look like doghouses." — Hannah on the old computers in Jessa's dad's car.
- "I can never tell if guys are attractive in a loser-y way or if they are just losers." — Hannah on Frank.
- Jessa and Hannah's discussion of pubic hair via the 1970s Penthouse issue is pretty funny. Also, Jessa thinks the noblest thing a woman can do is help a boy find his sexuality. Hannah disagrees.
- "You came in my thigh crease." — Hannah on her awful sex with Frank.