Hannah And Marnie’s Fight On Girls Perfectly Encapsulates Selfish Twentysomething Friendships
Wow—now that was a fight! Girls 1×09 “Leave Me Alone” ended with Hannah and Marnie‘s screaming match and this odd-couple friendship on the rocks for now, as Marnie is moving out and no longer supporting Hannah. I guess we shouldn't be surprised that it's come, considering how different their approaches to life are and the fact that Hannah has owed Marnie rent basically since the beginning of the series.
The last few episodes have seen a lot of upheaval and reversals, as Hannah started maturing and actually got Adam to commit to being her boyfriend. Then you have Marnie, who's just coming to terms with the fact that she's not going to end up with her college boyfriend Charlie and instead attracts skeevy, insecure older guys like Chris O'Dowd. Not to mention that it was Hannah's diary that led to Charlie realizing Marnie was no longer in love with him; even though Hannah inadvertently got Marnie out of a situation she didn't want to be in, all Marnie can focus on is the rejection. And now that Hannah has a boyfriend, she can't be bothered to listen to her friends' problems despite burdening them with her insecurities for most of the season.
One of the sweetest early moments in the series was 1×03, where Marnie came home to find Hannah dancing to Robyn‘s “Dancing On My Own.” In that sequence, where the two goofily danced off the sexual stresses of the night, we could see how they supported one another.
They're so different — frumpy, awkward Hannah and cool, collected Marnie — and yet, they've stayed friends through the crazy-transitional college time and the even more fluctuating post-grad period. In the pilot, we saw them having heart-to-hearts in the shower together; it was clear that they were at least emotionally invested in each other's lives.
But part of emotional investment is, once you know all of the other person's intimate details, applying your own judgment. Even though Hannah didn't show her diary to Charlie, she had plenty of opinions on why Marnie should dump him. And Marnie has taken it really hard that Hannah's suddenly in the honeymoon period with Adam while Marnie is falling apart. So when Hannah's old writing friend Tally (Jenny Slate playing a twentysomething perhaps more cringeworthy than Hannah herself) gets published and Marnie buys the book, the shit hits the fan.
Hannah's obviously insecure that she wasn't blessed with a suicidal boyfriend as the perfect writing material, and it just adds salt to the wound when Marnie says, “She's a really good writer. She captures something really true about the uncertainty of being our age. I cried twice.” Next thing you know, they're fighting over how Marnie pays all the bills, how Marnie doesn't have the right to be upset about Charlie… but really, each one is accusing the other of taking advantage of their friendship.
Alan Sepinwall at HitFix sums up the foundation of their argument, which is an unfortunate tendency of self-absorbed Millennials: Playing victim. I've done it, my friends have done it, and we've been called out on it:
They're fighting about 17 things at once, but all of them amount to the same thing: a desire to have the moral high ground, to feel like the injured party, the misunderstood one in the friendship, the one too often taken advantage of by the other.
There's a funny but cutting sequence where Marnie and Hannah keep shouting, “You're a big, ugly wound!” “No, you're the wound!” Marnie accuses Hannah of being self-centered and not caring about anyone's problems, which Hannah sort of acknowledges but also tries to turn into her own brand of suffering that should be excused.
Perhaps because Lena Dunham is committed to casting versions of herself in the most unsympathetic light, Marnie comes out of this fight with more of the audience's sympathy. Because when Marnie tells Hannah that she doesn't care about being a good friend, Hannah agrees. It's a jarring moment, and surprisingly self-aware for the series' unlikeable protagonist.
And now next week is the season finale. According to the preview, Marnie seems to have moved out and is getting the physical and emotional distance she needs. However, we also see her cozying up to Charlie at a party when his girlfriend is out of town. Marnie has always been an example of a certain form of entitlement when it comes to relationships, so I'm not surprised that we see her believing that she has some sort of right to hook up with Charlie again. And Hannah already feels smothered by Adam, so I doubt she can enjoy her romantic bliss with him if she doesn't have someone to bitch to about it.
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