Critic’s Notebook: Matthew Rhys Joins ‘Girls’ To Reflect Hannah Horvath’s Growth

[This square contains spoilers for a Feb. 26 partial of HBO’s Girls, now accessible early OnDemand.]

It’s a idle talk impulse of that each publisher is guilty during some point. An imperfectly phrased doubt leads to a approach comparison between presumably an actor and their latest impression or between dual prior characters, and rather than consider on a subject, out comes a answer: “Well, they both demeanour like me!” And everybody laughs nervously.

Lena Dunham and Hannah Horvath share some-more than that extraneous similarity, of course, in that Dunham isn’t only a performer-for-hire personification a role, though rather a array creator giving herself a lead role. And famously putting difference in her possess mouth like, “I don’t wish to weird we out, though we consider that we might be a voice of my generation. Or during least, a voice of a generation.”

Hannah finished that attestation in the Girls pilot and many fans and critics comparison were discerning to credit Dunham of hubris or presumptuousness, rather than only to grin during Hannah for a towering ego and finish of youth. Even if Hannah’s initial grand stipulation was pretended to be a laugh-line destined during a impression who has roughly always been during slightest median dictated as a boundary of jokes, a commander immediately determined a tighten feedback loop between Dunham and her onscreen persona. Just about all Hannah has ever finished has been examination as a response to things that people were observant about Dunham and, actually, only about all Dunham has ever finished has been examination as a response to things that people were observant about Dunham.

It’s partial of given a Girls Thinkpiece Industrial Complex is so vast that when Girls has a array culmination this spring, Donald Trump will be forced to answer for a spike in inhabitant stagnation numbers.

In a short-term, rest positive that this Sunday’s partial of Girls, patrician “American Bitch,” will furnish commentaries aplenty.

In my pre-season review, we called “American Bitch” Lena Dunham’s Oleanna, a anxiety to David Mamet’s two-hander about a tyro accusing a highbrow of passionate harassment. Equal tools self-satisfied and provocative (more a latter in improved productions), a play nodded to a Clarence Thomas-Anita Hill hearings and carefully eyed a arise of domestic exactness activism on college campuses.

“American Bitch” is a two-hander between Hannah and flashy author Chuck Palmer, played with deceit fatigue by Matthew Rhys. In a diatribe on what is described as a niche feminist website, Hannah has denounced Chuck for a array of what could presumably be described as passionate improprieties or unmitigated assaults on coeds during a new book tour. What follows over 30 well-performed minutes, created by Dunham and destined by Richard Shepard, is confession, justification, masturbatory literary analysis, betrayal and entrapment, with some shake room for interpretation on that impression is a rake and that a seduced. 

Just as Oleanna had Hill-Thomas as a backdrop, Dunham is operative around a new (but frequency new) spate of contention about a subdivision of artist from art, possibly Woody Allen or Bill Cosby or, if you’re right-leaning and disposed to sensationalism, presumably even Lena Dunham. Because Dunham has frequency been one to reason behind on amicable media or in interviews, we know her thoughts on many of these famous cases and we know her possess story with passionate assault, that has come underneath question/attack from niche regressive websites (and a some-more renouned regressive website with approach stream ties to a White House). 

So constantly we’re going to try to perspective a partial as Dunham articulate about Dunham, and in that light, “American Bitch” is substantially validating. In a end, Chuck is a manipulative sleaze Hannah portrayed him as, a male who lures women in with his celebrity and afterwards with his pretended sadness, possibly to a pitiable hotel room or into a account of his struggles with insomnia and insecurity. He gets them to open adult and then, carrying empowered them to a grade he thinks they wish or need to be empowered, he puts himself out there, and what’s a lady to do though use a famous author? 

Hannah feels unapproachable of carrying drawn a apparition of self-exposure from Chuck, though she also feels chastened for carrying not given care to his indicate of view. “You listened to one source and afterwards we flapped your lips,” he tells her condescendingly and she appears to agree, or during slightest meekly acquiesce. Then she lays with him on his bed, uncomfortable, though shopping into his shtick about personal closeness. Then when he deposits his penis on her leg, she grabs it, an contingent automatic that she fast recoils from, though that still proves his point. Does a attainment of Chuck’s daughter save Hannah from serve assault? Probably not, given Chuck’s “Told we so” smile (and, again, a penis thing) is defilement enough.

So we theory if we wish to examination this partial as being about Lena Dunham and her outspoken eagerness to pronounce law to energy (not that she’s even tighten to powerless), afterwards it’s a clearance and also a warning or authority on rapacious function masked in celebrity and dull praise. 

But “American Bitch” isn’t unequivocally about Lena Dunham or Woody Allen.

It’s about Hannah, who isn’t Lena, and a tour she’s been going on by a whole series. And a really prolonged approach she still has to go to strech a finish that substantially won’t come by a time we get to the Girls finale.

Dunham and Shepard would be roughly unhappy if we didn’t review “American Bitch” to a second deteriorate partial “One Man’s Trash,” an installment that’s substantially a array rise for me. The comparisons are simply literal, as both episodes concentration on Hannah entering a unimaginably upscale digs of an comparison man, spilling personal stories about her hopes and aspirations, anticipating a certain comfort that’s afterwards unraveled, withdrawal her exiting and walking divided alone. 

The metaphorical links aren’t tough to see either. In “One Man’s Trash,” a instigating eventuality is Hannah transfer rubbish from Ray’s coffee emporium in a rabble of well-to-do alloy Joshua (Patrick Wilson). 

“Then we just kinda started to like a approach that it felt, a whole act of it, a impulse when we dump it in, a impulse when we run, all that,” Hannah explains.

Hannah hasn’t formerly been caught. Joshua confronts an irritable Ray about a dumping. But Hannah confesses anyway. She needs to inform herself. 

In “American Bitch,” Hannah suspicion she was trashing Chuck and using away, never devising a ultra-sensitive Google warning Chuck had for himself. She’s astounded and intimidated, though not apologetic, when she’s called to charge for a palliate of accusing somebody of a crime online and afterwards relocating on to a subsequent blog post.

This shows a change in her energy and burden given a second season, as does a thespian alleviation in her clarity of what constitutes New York City wealth, from Joshua’s partially renovated brownstone, to Chuck’s absurdly plush doorman building. Hannah still isn’t a voice of her generation, though she’s during slightest turn a lady able of fortifying younger women she sees as being victimized — of fortifying younger women like a Hannah she used to be. 

To be really clear, Hannah is not a plant in “One Man’s Trash.” As she puts it, she’s accumulating feelings and practice still, a routine that includes this two-night mount with a kinda married man, topless ping-pong, flitting out in a oppulance steam showering and a whole accelerated attribute culminating in a unhappy breakup. Her ability to pronounce law to his energy is singular to chiding him for meditative a hipsters subsequent doorway are some-more like a frat residence than his possess inherent frattiness. It’s a meekest of burns. She’s beholden to be in his world.

For Hannah, “One Man’s Trash” is a story she can tell, though by a time we strech “American Bitch,” she’s fighting for a girls who put themselves in bad positions given they wish to have practice and stories. Her assignation with Joshua was a best box scenario, though what other women have gifted with Chuck is worse and she’s fighting for them given people are finally peaceful to tell her. Hannah’s a work in swell and this episode, some-more than most, shows that progress, though also her limitations. 

She confronts Chuck and creates a uncover of refusing to be awed by him, though she’s still snowed by a author and his sealed Philip Roth novels and cinema with Toni Morrison. At slightest she eventually sees by his slithery, prime disingenuousness, that is also an improvement. The mass of Wilson’s opening in “One Man’s Trash” — one that deserved an Emmy assignment during a really slightest — is a preppy inscrutability, something Wilson does improved than scarcely anybody. We’re left to do a lot of guessing about what Joshua thinks he’s removing out of his hurl with Hannah, an ambiguous enterprise that left many trolls belching out slurs about how deceived Lena Dunham contingency be to consider she could get with a dude who looks like Patrick Wilson.

Joshua was all cheekbones and toned abs and vacant motives, though Chuck offers unsanitary hair, a orderly brave and a spectator can see how he’s toying with Hannah, even if she can’t, during slightest until a end. Rhys is superb here given he lets us see what he’s thinking, though he creates it only hairy adequate that we don’t feel disregard for Hannah for blank it.

Girls is reaching a end this spring, though we don’t consider anybody is disturbed that Lena Dunham won’t keep us adult to date on Lena Dunham’s incremental maturation.

“American Bitch” was a sign of how most I’ll skip saying Hannah Horvath’s incremental maturation and a sign of how mostly this garb about a organisation of friends has smartly used these one-off episodes to draft expansion — Marnie’s After Hours-esque Manhattan calamity and Shosh’s Tokyo odyssey would also count. Maybe instead of a Girls movie, we should get an hour with Hannah and a bizarre comparison male in a magnificent unit each few years, only to see how things are going.

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