February 22, 2015, 9:00 p.m. (EST), HBO
Something that gets lost among all the politicization and rhetoric that drowns any discussion of abortion is what a deeply personal experience abortion actually is, for the woman involved, and sometimes for all of the people around her. Girls has gone in many different directions when it has brought up abortion, but those directions are always considered from a character perspective, the reactions always stemming from who the woman is and the circumstances that lead to her situation. That “Close-up” has a sad and somewhat bittersweet tone over its abortion storyline stems from how Adam and Mimi-Rose react to the situation, from what each of them is feeling in the moment, and from what they learn about themselves, and each other, by going through this experience.
Mimi-Rose realized she was pregnant, knew she needed an abortion, and got one, accompanied by her friend Sue Ellen Garth. That she mentions it to Ada at all is a sign in her mind of how much she trusts him and how close she feels to him. When Adam finds out, he flips out into the sort of rage only Adam can muster, for reasons he cannot even really articulate. It’s not that he wanted a baby, necessarily, but that he would like to have been consulted. Or maybe not even that, but that he would like to feel like he has some relevance in Mimi-Rose’s life, that she needs him in some way. Coming off his relationship with Hannah, which had as its main feature a crippling co-dependence, Adam is threatened by the deeply independent Mimi-Rose, and his insecurities start to flare up. This plotline comes to a fairly lovely conclusion for the two, basically amounting to the idea that there is a difference between being wanted and being needed, and that maybe the former can be relationship-sustaining in its own way, but its hard not to be bothered by some things about it.
To begin with, it isn’t necessarily clear why Girls decided Adam needed to learn this lesson at this time. It’s the sort of lesson any of the main players could use a better understanding of, but Adam, freshly unburdened of his commitment to Hannah, is at a weird place in his arc for his insecurities about someone needing him to be flaring up. Adam Driver and Gillian Jacobs are both great performers doing exemplary work here, but I was still somewhat surprised that at this point in the season, and in their relationship, a large swath of an episode that otherwise felt like filler was being given over to these two characters in this way. Similarly, Ray’s growing frustration with municipal decision-making is a generally fine story that I am reasonably interested in watching play out, but I often find it odd that we spend time with Ray holding a model while we have basically no idea, what, say, Jessa is up to this season.
This season seems interested in appearing to make bold, status-quo altering shifts, while actually doing nothing of the sort. Hannah’s time at Iowa was more of a trip than anything. We saw Jessa last week, furious at Hannah while Hannah was furious at her, yet here the two sit side by side because the plot wanted (because it certainly didn’t need) them to. All of these things can be explained away by the passage of time or by off-screen occurrences, and I don’t mind the show asking us to bear a little of that weight. My problem arrives when the show expects us to bear all of that weight, all of the time, so that it can use the characters basically however it wants to with no consequences, expecting audiences to justify random shifts in behavior for themselves.
Again, this show works well in little moments, and while Adam and Mimi-Rose’s subplot is problematic from a larger perspective, it does largely work as the sort of slice-of-life story this show tells well. I just begin to worry, usually around this point in a season of Girls, if all the slices will add up to more than the sum of their parts.
- “I’m very skeptical of people who want to ‘help others.’ There’s always some hidden agenda.”
I just begin to worry, usually around this point in a season of Girls, if all the slices will add up to more than the sum of their parts.