When we left the girls at the end of season two the future for our quirky, misguided foursome looked bleak. Unable to cope with her daddy issues, newly divorced Jessa (Jemima Kirke) had disappeared without a trace, and motor-mouth Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet) was getting reacquainted with life as a singleton after breaking up with Ray (Alex Karpovsky). Things were even worse for our favourite girl Hannah (Lena Dunham) who, after cutting her hair “like a little boy on a fancy cookie box”, faced a lawsuit over her unfinished book and came dangerously close to bursting her eardrum with a cotton bud. She’d quite literally hit rock bottom with her OCD. The only one who finally seemed to be getting her ‘shit together’ was Marnie (Allison Williams), an ironic twist considering she’d spent the entire second season making an embarrassment of herself – the painful memory of her singing Kanye West’s Stronger to an office full of weirded out hipsters still leaves a bad taste…
The irony continues as we catch up with the girls at the beginning of season three to find that Marnie is once again a hot-mess, having been dumped by puppy-eyed Charlie and is crashing on her mum’s sofa (cue another guest appearance from the brilliant Rita Wilson as Marnie’s self-absorbed, cougar mum). Christopher Abbot’s surprise exit from the series might have been a brief head-ache for Lena Dunham and her writing team but it’s worked in the show’s favour – Marnie’s best scenes surface when her life has no direction. The fact that Alison Williams still looks devastatingly beautiful in sweats and a hoody only adds to the secret pleasure of seeing her character don an apron and scrub dried milk from a coffee maker during a shift at Grumpy’s.
Females Only is the perfect season opener, showing us what the ladies have been up to since we last saw them. A lot has happened too – Hannah’s back with Adam (Adam Driver), who seems to have helped her turn a corner with her OCD, and she’s also on good terms with her editor again, who describes her mental illness as something they ‘can work with’. Giving Marnie a run for her money in the ‘who’s the bigger disaster’ contest is Jessa, who’s secretly been in rehab all this time, much to the detriment of the other patients who she treats to a constant onslaught of insults and profanities. As for Shoshanna…well, she’s still coming up with priceless Shoshisms as she continues to re-evaluate her priorities without Ray to hold her back. Otherwise known as sleeping around.
If episode one’s mission was to reacquaint us with the ladies and get us up to speed, episode two, Truth or Dare, is the one that really gets us back to the roots of Girls. Hannah, Adam and Shoshanna embark on a road trip to pick Jessa up from rehab, as Marnie moves into her new “shitbox” apartment, and it’s the episode that reminds us why we love Girls so much – in case we’d forgotten. As if we would.
As far as road trips go, not very much happens, with the best scenes taking place when Adam stops the car for food, rest, or an involuntary hike in the woods. “This road trip is so unremarkable. It’s just so similar to other road trips that I’ve seen in, like, various media”, Hannah moans but with the help of fan-favourite Adam, the quick witted, dead-pan humour leads to some real comic gems. Hannah and Shosh’s disagreement of the pronunciation over Ryan Phillippe’s last name is a simple joy to watch – “I mean I read his autobiography so I think I would know.” The most implausible argument ever!
The third episode, She Said OK, brings all four girls back together in the same room for Hannah’s 25th birthday party, an event that Marnie tries to use as a way to redeem herself after a humiliating music video goes viral. Whilst the other girls are having a blatant quarter-life crisis, Hannah is finally at peace with herself, happy in her ‘normal’ relationship with Adam, and as a result the episode falls flat. We like a little happiness now and again but Girls is built on the foundations of Hannah’s messy life; the awkward situations, the trashy hook-ups and inevitable break-ups. Blissfully happy Hannah doesn’t make for great viewing, even if the other girls are picking up the cringe worthy situation slack. Knowing Girls it’s really only a matter of time before Hannah’s world falls off its axis again, so here’s hoping it will be sooner rather than later.
For fans of the series, the first three episodes have been a welcome return to the world of Girls where jokes, sarcasm and awkwardness prevail. For those who hated the show before – you’re not likely to change your mind and, true to form, Lena Dunham doesn’t give a monkey’s. This is looking like it will be a cracking season and even at just three episodes in, the girls are on fire. I guess we’ll find out if that’s a good thing or not.