Dear Evan, Phil, and Lili,
You’re waffling. I’m waffling. Which makes a kind of poetic sense since this episode was all about commitment. The girls are waffling too. Evan, you called this a pivotal episode and I completely agree. The night before you posted your piece, studentactivism and I had a conversation about the very pivotal-ness of “The Crackcident.” What defines this episode as critical is how it pivots—how it waffles and how it makes viewers waffle in turn.
Ray’s steadfast pursuit of Shoshanna surprised me, especially since we’ve seen him repeatedly mock girls in prior episodes. Inversely, Charlie now has a new paramour and seems to have forgotten that once, he had strictly “decided on” Marnie. If we as viewers are having a difficult time coming to terms with these quick and new attachments, Marie is visibly having a harder one.
Jessa seems committed enough to accompany Jeff through the evening—and into the affair we were all waiting to happen—only to realize, on a hospital bed, that this was not at all where she wanted her night to end.
Then there’s Hannah and Adam’s always–always already–ambivalent attachment to one another.
When you’re committed to a character or anticipate certain narrative lines, episodes such as this last one can throw you off. Girls feels off-model because it is. Not only did Bushwick (and its uncanniness, as Phil and Evan both discuss) play up the girls’ geographical dislocation, it also emphasized their metaphysical confusion. Hannah doesn’t know where she is by the episode’s end, so she sends Marnie a drop-pin. Problem solved. Except they still don’t really know where they are. They’re just now able to inhabit that undeveloped space together (and not even for very long; they’re riding in a cab, after all, moving through the desolate streets of industrial Brooklyn).
Richard Brody continues to emphasize the discrepancies between Girls, the television show, and what he usually writes about: film. About “The Crackcident,” he says:
In “Tiny Furniture,” [Dunham] maintains a distinctively personal tone, type of performance, and sense of time. The tight formatting of each episode of “Girls” reduces her vision to a continuity of story line, character, and verbal style—and the hands of any other director recruited to realize it are also tied.
I disagree. If anything, Dunham relies on televisual expectations (of what the genre and medium can manage and communicate in a 25-minute episode) so as to interrupt the anticipated continuities of story line, character, and verbal style.
Why can’t Girls waffle a bit?
As Phil mentioned, the scene at the end of this episode recalls the end of the film, The Graduate.
But this reference had been established from the very start: the soundtrack that plays at the end of the Girls pilot recalls the end of The Graduate as well. The moving bus, the fading smiles, the tinkering music welcome our young protagonists into the world of adulthood, of marriage, of commitment.
As television, Girls can start where The Graduate had to end.