Dramedies balance out the “drama” and “comedy” with different ratios with shows like Scrubs tending far more towards the comedy while hour long shows like Desperate Housewives I would say lean more towards the drama. Girls is the uncommon thirty minute show that will have an entire episode about Hannah’s throbbing break-up, for example, with more drama than comedy.
This week’s “Close-Up” leaned into the comedic end of the spectrum, likely to get out of Hannah’s claustrophobic apartment of despair, but the steps Hannah and Shoshanna particularly take in the wake of persistent rejection and discontent seem almost implausible even within Girls’ often implausible world. During an interview for a marketing position Shoshanna says the object she is supposed to market smells like “bedussy” (combo of butt, dick and pussy)… and then she gets a date out of it? I don’t think so. Hannah’s therapist tells her she is a “helper” which makes Hannah want to become a teacher? Double no. There were some funny jokes to be had this episode, but the overall narrative felt more like a misstep than a calculated movement in a different direction.
A lot of the characters’ stories get fleshed out this episode despite it being shorter than usual at about 23 minutes, so much so that there had to be a Mad Men style montage round up at the end tying up all the loose ends. The story that got the plurality of time this week, and the one I found most compelling, was Adam’s discovery of Mimi-Rose’s abortion of his “ball of cells” as she calls it. Mimi-Rose casually drops the abortion bomb while explaining why she can’t go for a run with Adam, also known as one of the most insensitive ways to tell your partner you got an abortion. Adam kicks and screams all over the open plan apartment, and in a strong directorial choice by Richard Shepard, Mimi-Rose remains calmly seated on the couch and then walks in a straight line over to the sink not playing into Adam’s temper tantrum.
The same histrionics that I’m sure Hannah would have indulged and escalated were more or less negated, and that comparison between girlfriends is completely clear but the extent to which Gillian Jacobs plays up Mimi-Rose’s detached and I would even say aloofness feels too extreme. I could see Adam turning to someone less Hannah-like after their impassioned relationship, but someone on the complete opposite pole like Mimi-Rose seems unlikely. Then when Adam makes the choice to sneak out of Mimi-Rose’s apartment, presumably to end this surreptitiously, in an almost romantic-comedy coincidence Mimi-Rose reasons with Adam to stay using the line, “wanting you is better than needing you because it’s pure.” I’m sure no one in love, especially not the intensely passionate Adam, would hear that and feel comforted.
Through a motif of distinctly un-sexy tracking shots tracing various characters’ feet and then legs up the bed as they sleep, we then run into Hannah jarring as ever sitting straight up and thus breaking the visual sequence. A thinly veiled meltdown over missing Cinnamon Toast Crunch indicates Hannah’s not doing so hot, though she seems at least to have surpassed her purely emotional response last week for a more restrained existential crisis. In the wake of this, our good friend Bob Balaban as the plot device, excuse me, I mean Hannah’s therapist again defies believability by agreeing with Hannah that she was drawn to writing because of its ability to “affect change.” Not only that, he also goads her on by telling her she is a “helper”, which if he has been listening to Hannah over the past few years should not even be a possibility in his mind. It is understandable that in the wake of the fiasco that was Iowa followed by the fiasco that was Mimi-Rose, Hannah would become disillusioned with the current progression of her life and opt for something different. It is inconceivable to me, however, that Hannah’s something different be becoming a teacher. The unpredictable decision is clearly meant to be ludicrous given how little serious thought she appears to put into her new career, but it just doesn’t seem ludicrous in a way that meshes with Hannah’s heretofore established personality and sense of self.
I had a good, strong laugh at Shoshanna’s interview with a budding soup entrepreneur, but her outrageous outburst too felt noticeably incongruous with reality because how did she hear about such an obscure job that the soup entrepreneur also derides her for being unqualified for? He had her resume beforehand presumably and she knew he’s looking to market soup, right? Similarly Ray faces the ineptitude and inefficiency of city council and with an outburst he actually gets the board to acknowledge their shortcomings? Even though his scene felt like a burst of Coen Brothers’ oddity into our normal Millennial view of New York, I still don’t buy it all in the way the show wants me to.
The problem “Close-Up” shares with Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk of Nip/Tuck and American Horror Story fame is a disproportionate focus on plot and outcome, over logical character motivation. Shoshanna gets a date with the soup entrepreneur which I’m sure will be a running plot line, but how she got there simply does not work. This show has shown the ability to weave stories together in a muddy shitstorm, completely oblivious of outcomes and steeped in Hannah, Jessa, Marnie, Shosh and co.’s attempts to find their personalities a home in the city, but an attempt to work backwards and graft a concrete outcome onto their motivations just doesn’t sit right for a show that knows how to be intelligent.