Girls is an incredibly brave show. Like it or hate it, that is basically undeniable, and more often than not its bravery and willingness to go out on a limb is what makes the show so utterly watchable. In the “One Man’s Trash,” the show tries once again to do something it’s never done before, and while it certainly gets points from me for trying, there’s a lot about the episode that left me scratching my head.
If Girls has ever created a stand-alone installment, this would probably best qualify, as Hannah spends the entire episode removed from her world. The plot is incredibly simple: Hannah begins the day at work when a man (Patrick Wilson) comes in to bring to Ray’s attention that someone has been dumping trash in his bins. What started as a constructive conversation turns heated due to Ray’s inherent dick-ness and the man leaves. Hannah follows him to apologize for being the one to do it, but they hit it off and have sex with each other before they even learn their names. Afterwards, he introduces himself as Joshua and he compliments Hannah for having an old fashioned name. She stays for a steak dinner and gets a tour of the house, and then he begs her to stay the night, which she does. They have more sex. They call out of work the next morning and spend the day together playing nude pingpong and fucking some more. Hannah takes a shower and passes out from the heat. Joshua saves her. Hannah opens up to him about her feelings. He doesn’t reciprocate. Hannah stays the night again and leaves the following morning.
The whole thing had an independent short film feeling to it, but the pacing and tone of the shots and the music and even the dialogue felt completely different from what Girls had established in the 14 episodes prior, which made the whole thing rather off-putting. The first 20 minute of the episode had a Revolutionary Road, Little Children kind of vibe of loneliness and isolation, and while I admire the ambition, it kind of floored me during the viewing and not much of it came off as enjoyable.
Things took a turn for the better towards the end when Hannah started talking about how she just wants to be happy. It really was a fantastic moment for her because this total stranger that she just made a mini-life with is the only person she can be completely honest with. She’s been telling herself that she wants to have all these experiences and live this fast and amazing life but she’s already tired of it and just wants what everyone else wants. It’s a minor breakthrough for Hannah, who’s become borderline insufferable lately. She’s not without her moments here too — she patronizes Joshua for not wanting to be called Josh, and passingly belittles his story of being molested as a kid — but there’s definitely something inside of her that wants to be better and to be emotionally healthy, even if she’s still a long way from that point. Maybe a glimpse into this luxurious, loving, mysterious Norman Rockwell painting life she’s put herself in has opened her eyes to what she really wants out of life.
In all, I’m glad that Girls made me think a little bit with this one, even if it wasn’t the show’s most enjoyable half hour. I said a few weeks ago that Hannah needed a reality check real soon or else I’d start to lose patience with her, and while this experience certainly wasn’t based in Hannah’s reality, it definitely put some of her priorities into perspective. I think “One Man’s Trash” is an episode that might start to grow on me even more upon further viewings.
– I’m a big Patrick Wilson fan, and he was unsurprisingly great here as the separated husband who feels like the old ghost in his hip neighborhood just looking for some piece of mind, even if it’s not exactly the same things as Hannah is looking for.
– Hannah humblebrag, she thinks she may be too smart and too sensitive to be crazy.
– Hannah quoting Fiona Apple: “I’m not nuts. I just want to feel it all.”
– Ray: “Go back to your panda videos before I turn off the WiFi.”