Last week's weirdly controversial Girls episode "One Man's Trash", was defined by melancholy. This week's episode, "Boys", articulates that melancholy in a precise way with a metaphor about—what else?—Staten Island. Ray describes Staten Island as a place where people who want to live in Manhattan but can't are relegated to watch the city in a "quiet rage" on its fringes. Ray's not talking about Staten Island—he's talking about himself, Adam, Hannah, Marnie and all the other young characters on the show.
Even with book deals, fancy art parties, a seemingly perfect relationships, Girls' characters want more from their lives. The main characters all present a veneer of being okay with where they are, while actually longing to change their lives.
In this episode, Hannah finally she seems motivated. She's sent out some essays and has met with the editor (played by John Cameron Mitchell from Hedwig and the Angry Inch!) of Pumped magazine. He's read her essays and describes them as "sweet, naïve and infuriating" but asks Hannah to write an e-book for him. The only catch is that he needs it in a month.
After puking on the sidewalk, in a mixture of excitement and drunkenness, Hannah gets started. For the first time, we actually see Hannah write. Shoshanna and even Ray are excited for Hannah. Shoshanna can't believe she has a friend who signed a book deal, saying, "It's so adult and intriguing." Ray has to begrudgingly admit that Hannah has surpassed his opinion that "when people say they want to be writers they just want to eat and masturbate."
However, seeing Hannah write is relative. We see her armed with Red Bull and tea—typing a few sentences and then erasing them and then reading an article about "10 Fruits That Will Make You Fat." That's all sadly relatable—well maybe swap out the fruits article for One Direction gossip? We get a brief Jessa appearance, enough to tell that she's not doing well post-Thomas John, and long enough for her to tell Hannah that this book won't matter to Hannah or to anyone else. Not great advice for writing on a month deadline.
As she sits down actually writing, Hannah has texted Marnie to tell her she has news. But Marnie's been busy playing house with her new lover, the infuriating artist Booth. Lying in bed with the naked Booth, Marnie brushes off Hannah's text, assuming the news is either that she wrote a new blog post or found a really great hot dog. Booth asks Marnie why the two of them are even still friends and Marnie replies that it's mainly out of habit.
Booth tells Marnie he actually doesn't care about her friendships, then proceeds to berate his assistant in-person for taking too large a bite of his rosewater ice cream. The assistant quits on the spot and, putting Booth in a tight spot for some fancy art party he's throwing that night. He asks Marnie to host the party and she agrees.
Hosting an art party requires the perfect outfit and after tearing apart her "basic" wardrobe with Shoshanna, Marnie ends up hosting the party in this ridiculous-yet-fabulous plastic metallic Judy Jetson-esque dress. Things seem to be going really well at first. But when Marnie and Booth are in the wine cellar, Booth offers Marnie $500 for hosting. She's irate. Marnie thought she was hosting because she was Booth's girlfriend—he thought she was hosting because she's a hostess for a living.
Marnie starts crying, not because she really cares about Booth but because she wants his life. Even Booth recognizes that, saying, "You enjoy hanging out with me or my work more?" Marnie's been using Booth for what he represents for her: a life that she wants but is unsure on how to attain.
Hannah and Marnie finally chat as the latter walks home, her ridiculously fabulous dress on her arm. In one of the sadder interactions between the two friends, both blatantly lie to one another. Hannah has called Marnie because she wants someone to talk to, as does Marnie, but for whatever reason neither of them can confess that things aren't going as they have painted them. Hannah can't write. Marnie's relationship with Booth wasn't a relationship at all. Instead, they tell each other their ideal situations. Hannah has got a lot of writing done and Marnie is watching fireflies on Booth's patio at a fancy art party. Lies, all lies.
Meanwhile, Ray struggles with vulnerability on as well. Since his admission that he's homeless, Ray seems to be glossing that fact over. However, a pilgrimage to first obtain his copy of Little Women from Adam's house and then to return a rabid-seeming dog that Adam stole from a coffee shop appears to be the thing to shake him out.
At first, the interaction between Adam and Ray is awkward. When Ray discovers the dog in the bathroom while trying to find Little Women, he assumes the dog is a "breakup" dog. Adam shoots that idea down, but suggests that Ray come with him to return the dog because he might need backup. Ray's intrigued face (obviously never been given the opportunity to be muscle before) says it all.
Through this dog adventure, we learn much more about both Ray and Adam. Ray feels like things with Shoshanna are going really well especially since it's his longest relationship (4 weeks). But he has hesitations, mainly because of where Shoshanna thinks he is in his life: "It's hard to tell someone so young that things don't turn out like you'd think they would."
They both agree dating younger or older is better—the "in-betweens" don't know what they want. This leads Ray to believe that he and Adam are more alike than they think. "I may intellectualize everything and you nothing but at the end of the day we both have some meaty ideas," he says. Adam just thinks they are similar because they are both kind of weird looking.
But both Adam and Ray know how to bait the other. Adam claims that he's over Hannah, saying, "She's like a carnival game you know? It all seems so simple but you can't get the ring on the ball because it's fucking rigged so you try and try until you drive yourself fucking nuts. Then when you walk away you realize you didn't even want the crappy prize to begin with."
This sparks Ray to tell Adam he never understood his infatuation with Hannah. Adam says it's because she was fine with his set of difficulties and that while Hannah makes bad choices and says the wrong thing, he thinks that she ultimately an altruistic person. When Ray scoffs at that, Adam's "quiet rage" just turns into flat out rage. First, he thinks that Ray has wanted to fuck Hannah and is jealous. But then he plays into presumably Ray's inner monologue—that he's only dating Shoshanna since it's comfortable because he knows it won't work out. According to Adam they are "just babies holding hands."
Ray wanders around Staten Island, finally coming across the daughter of the dog owner who doesn't want the dog back, calls Ray some racist remarks, inquires about his work status, and tells him to go back to "Yogurt Town" in reference to his t-shirt. Now, stuck with this dog—alone on Staten Island with just his rage to comfort him, Ray breaks down into tears.
Quick List: Other Favorite Factoids from "Boys"
- Alex Karpovsky + Adam Driver together in scenes is brilliant.
- Ray thinks he's Marmee from Little Women. Shoshanna and Hannah think he's the dad who dies of influenza.
- Booth has goat's milk probiotic in his fridge.
- Booth's assistant's boyfriend does the lighting for Carly Rae Jepsen's tour.
- "You are like Bella Swan from Twilight and I'm like her weird friend who doesn't understand how fab her life is because my boyfriend won't spend $4 on tacos." – Shoshanna on Marnie hosting Booth's party.
- Booth on seeing Marina Abramovic: "Suddenly I'm sobbing which I never do." Booth's friend's response: "I've seen you cry like six or seven times."
- This episode was directed by Claudia Weill, who directed the 70s lady friendship film gem, Girlfriends with a smoking hot young Christopher Guest. Watch it.