TV Recap: Girls, “She Said OK” (3.3)

By Jordan Ferguson


10/1/2014, 10:00 pm (EST), HBO

Girls is a show that works wonders when it exists as short snippets from the lives of these characters, captured moments frozen in amber. “She Said Ok” speaks volumes about the characters at its center without ever making too large a deal about it. It is a story about Hannah’s twenty-fifth birthday party that is fine on just that level, but it also works as a story about Hannah, Adam, Marnie, and Ray without having to fully commit to telling a cohesive narrative about any of them. On another show, this might feel shapeless, but Girls manages to use these snippets to speak to larger truths about where these characters have come from and where they are going.

For Hannah, turning twenty-five is a landmark, but one she treats very differently that she might have in the previous seasons of the show. Sure, she makes clear to Adam that parties are a big deal to her and that she expects to have fun, but also, she manages to careen between various different guests and mostly make them all feel welcome, and she does not want to get up on the stage and sing “Take Me or Leave Me” with Marnie like she did at twenty-one.

The episode also deals with the Hannah and Adam pairing in a way that shows the sort of peaceful coexistence and positive codependence these two have forged while also reminding us that this castle is built on sand, and that as much as these two have found a sense of calm and peace, they are living their lives in the eye of a storm, and their union may not be as idyllic as they both think. It is important to each of them that they be a solid unit, a team that can face anything. But they aren’t that, at least not yet, and the arrival of Adam’s sister Caroline (Gaby Hoffman) indicates they are unprepared for any troubles that may befall them.

Caroline is less of a character here than a force of nature and a device to make us think about Adam’s upbringing and the way his relationship with his sister has shaped him. Adam is something of a mystery, in part because he cultivates himself as detached and difficult. He doesn’t let people in, except Hannah, to whom he is fiercely loyal, and while we know a lot about his volatility and his manic nature, we don’t necessarily know much about him beyond that. Though in this episode, Caroline is mostly an amalgamation of crazy girl clichés (and this show should be better than that), what she represents is a potential window into Adam as a character. This is perhaps what draws Hannah to her, even when Adam is warning her off. Though actually, I think Hannah’s efforts to help Caroline stem more from her desire to prove to herself that she is an adult. Having a guest bedroom and taking in her boyfriend’s sister feel like the things an adult might do, and so Hannah leaps at the opportunity to prove how grown up she is, even if only to herself.

Meanwhile, Marnie is still crumbling after her break-up with Charlie, trying to get a video he made of her singing “What I Know” by Edie Brickell taken down without contacting him, and then ignoring Hannah’s wishes in order to perform for a group of people. Marnie’s completely delusional dreams of a singing career continue to be one of the show’s greatest examples of cringe humor. Allison Williams is actually a talented singer, which makes Marnie’s desperation and thinly-veiled showboating even funnier somehow. Though “She Said OK” spends very little time with Marnie as a character (what we see of her tonight outside of her attempts to get the video taken down feels very presentational, in a way Williams plays beautifully), the show is still building to some sort of crisis or breakdown from her. She is not reacting well to her break-up with Charlie, and while she has been sidelined so far this season, I’m sure she will soon become spotlighted enough for us to understand just how much adjusting to life without Charlie is hurting her.

Ray, meanwhile is getting his shit together in a way that he clearly thinks will woo Shoshanna back. But he has failed to account for their age difference. An older Shoshanna would probably see his efforts as responsible (but then, an older Shoshanna would not have been involved with a functionally homeless person to begin with), but the girl he is trying to impress is currently a college senior, who has assiduously planned to balance studies and fun. She is going through a “wild” period, so the last thing she needs to hear is Ray’s speech about how hiring personnel is one of his “many responsibilities.” Their interaction is heartbreaking, because the closed off Ray is trying so hard to open up, betraying his own alms to isolation from last week and approaching Shoshanna to show her he is rectifying the problems that ended their relationship. She is deeply perplexed by the whole thing, because she is in a different place than when they were together. She’s young enough, and naïve enough, to have decided she is a completely different person for the moment and to own it. Ray’s old enough to think his shift from stasis will be enough to bring her back. She is at an age where trying on a persona is still completely acceptable. He’s at an age where any shift for the better is worth celebrating. And neither can understand the other anymore because they’ve left the protective bubble of their relationship; they’ve broken orbit and are drifting in completely different directions.

“She Said OK” is, on its face, about a party. But actually, it’s about all of the tiny crises that are going on within the party, about the fissures that we never really see unless we are a part of them. Every party has these minor conflicts bubbling beneath the surface, miniscule slights that only the involved parties would even notice. This episode exists in these fissures, and uses them to remind us of larger conflicts these characters are experiencing. Though it doesn’t reach the heights of the show’s best hours, it still manages a surprising amount of insight into its characters. Hannah has reached the mid-point of her twenties, and she is, more than ever, adrift between her carefree youth and the responsibilities of adulthood. She is feeling the gravitational pull of maturity more strongly now, but still struggles to understand what that means or what it will look like. She can play the part better than ever, but she still can’t even read the cues coming her way from her boyfriend. She knows that offering Caroline a place to stay feels adult, but she’s not aware that Adam might not want to have sex after his sister crushes a glass in her hands. She is, as ever, a work in progress. But she’s starting to make her peace with that fact, and to find calm within her internal chaos.

The Roundup

  • -“How can a man who loves animals with such a haunting totality just turn around and totally rebuff me?”
  • -“Religion is the smile on a dog.”
  • -“Marnie, I cherish you on an interpersonal level, I love this party, the last thing I want to do is sing anything from Rent.”
  • -“I don’t read comments.”
  • -“Why does any guy go to a place where there’s dancing? A girl told me to come.”
  • -“She doesn’t even have the common courtesy to implode alone. All must go down with her.”
  • -“I’m just going to download Grindr on this. Just temporarily.”
  • -“Woah, are you on coke?” “What? No!” “Do you have any coke?”
  • -“What’s this from?”
  • -“I made you something.” “Is it drugs?”
73/100 ~ GOOD. “She Said OK” is, on its face, about a party. But actually, it’s about all of the tiny crises that are going on within the party, about the fissures that we never really see unless we are a part of them.
Jordan Ferguson is a lifelong pop culture fan, and would probably never leave his couch if he could get away with it. When he isn’t wasting time “studying the law” at the University of Michigan, he writes about film, television, and music. In addition to writing for Next Projection, he is the Editor-in-Chief of Review To Be Named, a homemade haven for pop-culture obsessives. Check out more of his work at , follow him on twitter @bobchanning, or just yell really loudly on the street. Don’t worry, he’ll hear.