I had to say SOMETHING about the last episode after all.
[...] I had to say SOMETHING about the last episode after all. Source: Postmodern Conservative [...]
“So who today follows Aristotle in writing about the kind of love that is the friendship between husband and wife in joyfully carrying out the responsibilities they share in common?”
Actually, Wendell Berry comes to mind!
Well, that’s true. We could also point, of course, to FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS!
What a diversion that episode was, eh? But it was a welcome romantic diversion, almost like Girls had been invaded by a chic- flick up until Hannah’s vulnerability was rebuffed. Around twenty minutes of the show was full of sweetness and light (punctuatd by a naked Lena Dunham). A conventional relationship with a successful man in an ample home seemed possible and Hannah could open herself without being afraid of being hurt.
But of course the New York City of the rest of the Girls episodes came crashing through the brackets of Hannah’s honesty, of brownstone, and into the episode’s diversion. As you write, “Hannah spoke the truth about who she is and what she wants. But she lacked both the words and the proper relational context in which to pour her heart out about love.” Even if Hannah spoke “what she can’t not know” about her relationality, if she recognized the attractiveness of “the kind of love that is the friendship between husband and wife in joyfully carrying out the responsibilities they share in common,” the show maintains a skepticism about the possibility of such love by having it occur between a 24 year old barista and the 40-something separated doctor she just met because she couldn’t put the trash in the right can. It is ultimately critical not only of impoverished relationality of its characters, but of the possibility of what it seems to see as the dysfunctional relational expecations of the past.
So, here again, is the perfect opportunity for a PoMoCon modification of question Carl asks above: “When the foundations of what Aristotle says about the kind of love that is the friendship between husband and wife in joyfully carrying out the responsibilities they share in common seem rotten, or when we have lost the language and expecations of that love, who then can follow Aristotle?”
Corey, What an astute contribution to GIRLS studies! But I wonder whether the “traditional” view of love and marriage are presented as as rotten as you say. Hannah’s reliance on fantasy comes from not putting in the real work required to really be in love, find a husband, and all that. Does the show really suggest that it’s impossible or just stupid to do that work today? Maybe she really is too wounded or too self-indulgently imagines she is. But that’s true for all the characters.
Everything you say is true, but I would emphasize the fact that all the characters are too wounded and self-indulgent to do the real work of love. That, I think, is why we only find the possibility of real love, or a positive statement of the felt need for real love, in such an isolated episode, in such an isolated place, and in a most improbably situation. The “traditional” view of love and marriage isn’t rotten, but the old ways of getting there are closed off. In the face of that hopelessness, without the right language to talk about themselves relationally, the characters give up and “go with the flow” of urban hook-up culture.
Hence, Girls is a sort of romantic gallows comedy after the execution of old ways of love.
Shoshanna is doing the work and making her loser (but smart and maybe promising) boyfriend better. There’s real love and emerging “commitment” there. Other than that, there’s a lot to what Corey says.
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