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Zeitgeisting TV: 'Girls' and 'Looking' : Episodes 8

Monday Mar 9, 2015
A scene from HBO's "Looking."
A scene from HBO's "Looking."  (Source:HBO)

EDGE editors Jason St. Amand and Robert Nesti comment on this week's episodes of HBO's "Girls" and "Looking."

This week, episodes 8 of the current seasons.


"Looking"
A scene from HBO's "Looking."  (Source:HBO)

"Looking"

Jason St. Amand (national news editor):

"Looking For Glory" focuses on Patrick and Kevin's now legitimate relationship. Last week, Kevin left his partner Jon for Patrick (WHY?) and here they are, finally together with nothing to hide. Except they work together.

In the start of the episode, Patrick makes a lovey-dovey breakfast for Kevin but drops it all as he's trying to bring it to him, which I'm guessing is some kind of foreshadowing of their relationship. Still, it's in the happy early stages but that doesn't present itself without caveats. Patrick feels the need to come out about the newly-formed relationship to his coworkers although Kevin is (rightfully) hesitant about it, saying he wants to let everyone know he and Jon split first and gradually reveal that's dating Patrick. Nevertheless, Patrick pushes for his way and decides to announce that they are dating by wearing one of Kevin's shirts - not just any shirt but one that is unmistakably Kevin's - French bulldog sweatshirt.

I'm sure in Patrick's mind, he thought this was SOOOOO CUTE and his coworkers would stand up and give him an applause and hugs. Of course, the opposite happens and Patrick and Kevin's colleagues aren't thrilled that Patrick has been diddling the boss.

Meanwhile Dom starts putting together his restaurant but Doris bails on helping out to go to a family event with her new boyfriend Malik, which exposes a real passive-aggressiveness in Dom and suggests to me maybe he likes her more than just a friend. Or maybe he's used to his BFF to always being single and he doesn't know how to handle how to deal with Doris' serious relationship. Also, are Dom and Scott Bakula done for real? He hasn't even been mentioned in the last three episodes.

Anyway, back to Kevin and Patrick for a moment, who attend an LGBT gaming conference to promote their app. Patrick asks for some sign clips from a dude who made an app that helps you find the nearest glory hole but faces a really nasty queen, who lays into Patrick. I can't say I didn't enjoy this scene because I thought it was the best part of the episode. It was so mean, but I loved seeing Patrick taken down a peg. After Patrick (proudly) tells the app developer that he's here with his boyfriend, he calls them twins and asks "why don't you just jerk off in the mirror if you think you're so cute."

In a surprise twist, Richie and Brady show up at the event. Brady is doing a story about the conference. Patrick can't wait to tell them how he and Kevin are a legit couple now and the app they're making, which pits gay stereotypes together in a fighting game. It's a bitchy conversation where Brady calls Patrick a home-wrecker but then decides he wants to write a story on the couple.

But in the episode's highlight, after Richie gives Patrick a longing look (or is it a disappointed look from judgmental Richie?) during a dance party, the four men grab a late night bite to eat. Brady is beyond obliterated and drunkenly confesses that Richie isn't the saint he acts and that he called Patrick "a 13-year-old girl who's afraid of her own vagina."

Also in this episode Eddie cums in Agustin's eye when they're having sex. Agustin freaks out and Eddie tells him he's not the open, evolved kind of guy he thinks he is and is just like the rest and is going to run scared when Eddie's HIV status becomes too real. But Agustin convinces Eddie he's not that guy and the two end up going dancing together. It looks like both couples have signs of relationships that may implode later on.


A scene from HBO's "Looking."  (Source:Facebook)

Robert Nexti (arts and entertainment editor):

I had mixed feelings about this episode. Though I enjoyed it, especially the jokes at the expense of Patrick and Kevin; it wasn't as strong as the past two. This is inevitable with a show such as this; but regrettable nonetheless.

The scene in the restaurant with the drunk Brady opening up about Patrick was hilarious. It also indirectly pointed out that Richie is still bitter about his break-up with Patrick and isn't quite the saint that he presents himself to be. I also liked the way he gave Patrick the stare at the dance - a great touch that suggested multiple meanings.

But has Patrick dissolved into the jerk that many of my friends think he is? The way he dissed Kevin's approach to their revealing the relationship, especially at work, made it seem that he wants to be viewed as a trophy wife to his colleagues - something that you think he'd be smart enough to avoid. Perhaps coffee with Agustin and Dom would have derailed such an idea; but that he did it only indicated how insensitive he is to other people's feelings.

Is Kevin thinking with his dick and not his head with his relationship with Patrick? He seems to be investing a lot in making it work and Patrick is acting like the perfect little boy toy, but will spending all their time together (at work and at home) take its toll on them?

The issue of a mixed relationship (HIV+/HIV-) is also being explored in ingenious ways. Having had an incident back in the day with semen-in-the-eye with a date, I found this plot line perfectly believable. In short, no matter how many precautions, there's no such thing as safe sex. But the way Agustin reassured Eddie felt genuine and suggested that Eddie could also learn from this experience. There's some hope there.

As for Dom, he appears to be the neediest of the three. His passive/aggressive phone call to Doris was exactly in keeping with a character repressing his true feelings in order to display a cool exterior. But if there's an overall theme to this season, it is that these characters are all co-dependent, either with each other or the characters they meet along the way, and not in the best ways.

We've yet to discuss whether or not the show's an artistic success and whether it should be renewed? The same is true of "Girls." While ratings are down for both, should HBO bring them back?


"Girls"
A scene from HBO's "Girls"  (Source:HBO)

"Girls"

Jason St. Amand (national news editor):

In what might be the best episode of Season 4 of "Girls," "Tad & Loreen & Avi & Shanaz" zooms out of NYC and settles in on Hannah's parents, taking a sharp left on this season's storyline. It's unexpected, especially this late in the game, but it's a welcomed surprise.

The episode opens up with Hannah's father, Tad (the stellar Peter Scolari) revealing to Hannah's mom/ his wife, Loreen (Becky Ann Baker) that he's gay - after a round of couple's therapy of course. It's a risky move to shift the plot on minor characters when you're seven episodes deep in a 10-episode season but Dunham, Jenni Konner and Co. manage to pull it off with fantastic results.

Loreen's reaction is gross and priceless (she thinks Tad is trying to steal the spotlight from her because she just received tenure), which makes pretty clear to see where Hannah's selfishness and self-centered way of thinking comes from. When they attend a dinner party the Horvaths' friends throw to celebrate Loreen's tenure, things go from bad to worse. Loreen is too upset to keep her emotions quiet and a little (a lot?) of wine, which ultimately helps her lash out on Tad in front of everyone after he gives some lame toast. She rushes to the bathroom and where she's confronted by Avi, who is one half of the couple who threw the little get together, and we learn the two had a fling not long ago.

It's weird to learn Hannah's parents have had so much drama recently since they seemed to be truly in love and happy when we saw them anytime Hannah called them. Sure, not every relationship is perfect but there were very few signs throughout the series that their relationship would blow up. Still, we did kind of know Tad may be gay. In one of the first episodes, Elija tells Hannah that her dad is clearly gay and that he hit on him or something, and then points out his earring.

Still, the episode isn't only about the Horvaths. While Hannah is excelling in her new role as a sub, she unsurprisingly takes things too far and "Tad & Loreen & Avi & Shanaz" highlights Hannah's lack of boundaries. It may have worked in her writing, as she was willing to share every gross aspect of her life, but it won't work in a 9-5 job.

Hannah befriends one her students, Cleo (Maude Apatow, yes Judd Apatow's daughter) and they get too familiar. Cleo is 15, but it doesn't stop Hannah from gossiping and giving her special treatment and advice. Their relationship is completely inappropriate but Hannah is trying to be that cool teacher. "I was once your age too!" I'm sure she was thinking while taking Cleo to get a piercing - one of the hardest scenes to watch in all of "Girls" not only because it looked physically painful but because my mind was blown imagining a sub taking a high school student, who is essentially a child, to get a piercing.

The best part was after witnessing Cleo's agony, Hannah backs out of getting her own piercing, giving her protégé some ridiculous advice about being an adult is learning from other's mistakes.

Then there's Marnie and Desi, who after having a breakdown that they're making sappy, transparent wannabe She & Him tunes, decides to spend their $2,000 record advance by buying German guitar pedals that shaped My Blood Valentine's first record in an attempt to be "authentic." Understandably, Marnie flips her shit and Desi calls her a bitch and storms off, once again underlining that he is the single worst character on "Girls."

Meanwhile, Jessa proves why she is the least interesting of the four main women and tells Shoshanna how she is still trying to get Ace (Zachary Quinto), who is clearly still in love with Mimi-Rose Howard. And Shosh helps Ray campaign to be on the neighborhood council seat and learns that he's still hung up on Marnie (and not her), which she's not happy with at all: "FUCKING MARNIE?" she yells before giving him the silent treatment.

There's also a great scene with Fran, where Hannah tries to convince him to go on another date with her but he tells her he's trying to cut the "drama" out of his life and she's full of it. The episode ends with Hannah once again calling her parents to ask them if she is in fact a drama queen but Loreen, in something I could see Hannah doing, cuts her off to out her father.


Lena Dunham and Maude Apatow (right) in "Girls."  (Source:Craig Blankenhorn/HBO)

Robert Nexti (arts and entertainment editor):

I agree that this was a great "Girls" episode. It may be the best of the season, though an earlier one when Hannah flipped out on her graduate student colleagues was equally good.

There was so much going on - Hannah's dad coming out (a surprise, though you wisely noted it was hinted at in an earlier episode); The blow-out and reconciliation between Marnie and Desi was also shrewdly handled. While I can't imagine two more self-absorbed and unappealing characters on television today, it was presented with just the right mix of reality and satire. In short, they deserve each other.

This was also the first episode of the season where Hannah appeared to be happy. Thus far she's been fish-out-of-water, both in Iowa where graduate school turned out to be a huge mistake, then in Brooklyn, where she was unknowingly dumped. Giving up writing may be the best thing for her right now. Not that teaching is much of an alternative in the long run, but Dunham appeared to glow in this episode. The angsty-self-pity that she's been dwelling in of late has vanished and her loopy side emerged. That she went out for that tattoo with Cleo was totally inappropriate, yet in keeping with Hannah's lack of self-awareness. It makes sense she'd bond with one of her students, whether this will come back and bite her in the ass remains to be seen.

That Hannah's parents also teach made for an interesting parallel, though there was no mention of that; instead the Horvatz's subplot centered on Tad's coming out (albeit in an insensitive manner) and Loreen's emotional reaction. I think you pointed out this was the first time viewers got to see the friction in their marriage; up to now they've only been seen with Hannah. I agree that it was a brave choice to bring them into the story in such a dramatic way and in Loreen's behavior shed light on what has shaped Hannah. ("It's not not about me, Tad," she says. "It's not not.") Loreen acted like a fun-house mirror reflection of Hannah, only with a level of bitterness that likely came with age. The best scene was her confrontation with Avi about their brief affair the summer before; he came onto her and she just laughs, not taking him seriously. It was so much like Hannah.

And it was great to see Shosh get her moment. Her offer to her hottish date was hilarious, only topped with the celebrity siting of cast members of "The Good Wife" (which is on opposite "Girls") in the restaurant. A funny touch.

But back to Hannah. Her apology to Fran, her school colleague with whom she went on a miserable date (or "half-date" as Hannah put it), was heartfelt. But kudos to Fran for calling her the drama queen that she is. Best of all is the irony of Hannah calling home to be reassured that she's not a drama queen, then become embroiled in her parents' drama - a funny touch to end the episode.


Zeitgeisting TV

This story is part of our special report titled "Zeitgeisting TV." Want to read more? Here's the full list.


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