Last night I had the privilege of previewing the first two episodes of the third season of Girls at HBO’s “Girls Night Out” in Boston. I am pleased to report that the episodes, which premiere back to back on January 12th, are clever, sassy, and crowd-pleasing. They had many memorable one-liners and continued the events and problems of last season satisfyingly. Here are my spoiler-free feels:
Though both episodes are enjoyable, the first, “Females Only,” is the stronger of the two, deftly handling the many storylines and elements. Jessa is easily the shining star of the episode, completely unhinged and hilarious. Her first scene quickly devolves into a sassy, cynical dressing down of everyone else in the room and is probably the funniest part of the whole premiere, with Jemima Kirke perfectly channeling the contrast between an intense nastiness and a total disinterest in everything.
On the flip side, Allison William’s Marnie isn’t given much to do or work with in the series opener and basically spends both episodes popping in briefly to mope about Charlie or fight with her mother and then going off screen again. It’s a rather bland note for her character to start the season on and I hope to see more out of her later on.
Likewise, Shoshanna doesn’t get much of a story. The interesting solo moments she has at the beginning are encouraging, but after that she only serves as a sidekick to Hannah. Still, unlike Marnie in the episode, Shoshanna is still funny as hell, serving as a delightfully annoying and often-awkward third wheel to the reunited Adam and Hannah. Those two, complicated as always, are cute and likable in their metaphorical honeymoon stage, though with the expected bumps, which hit a low (high?) point when an angry Natalia comes into the picture. Don’t worry; the ensuing train wreck is perfectly acted and had the whole audience laughing.
Perhaps the most interesting relationship explored in the episodes (sorry, Adam and Hannah) is the one between Jessa and Hannah. With Jessa’s disappearing act last season still painful for her old friend, their reunion is full of resentments and complications, exacerbated by the fact that Jessa is super high maintenance. Hannah is likable and sweet in this episode, and it’s nice to see the struggling young adult get some stability with Adam. After her rough time last season, he really does seem to have helped her get things going again. She gets to play the well-adjusted friend here as Marnie struggles with post-Charlie life and Jessa struggles with…well, being Jessa. And she does it well, reminding us that as dysfunctional as these girls are, they can make a cohesive group when they want and choose to. Adam, meanwhile, is great in the premiere as the rather put-out and irritable boyfriend dealing with Hannah’s crazy friends, but he’s at times tiresome and annoying.
Despite how enjoyable Natalia is, she’s seriously underutilized in the first episode and not present in the second one at all. I’m not certain what the actress’ status on returning this season is, but I do hope the writers will choose to use more of the fabulous Shiri Appleby.
The two episodes, both written by Lena Dunham, were high energy and didn’t get old. Don’t mistake this two-part premiere as a two-part episode. It’s two distinct stories, which works, keeping things fast-paced and always original. However, they’re linked, creating a longer story arc, so to speak, that serves as an interesting and fully realized way to start the series. Though the first two episodes of Girls don’t get to everything we’d perhaps like to see (more Marnie and Shoshanna, please!), they have all the charm and intelligence that has made the first two seasons so likable.