Girls Season 3: Episode 6 – “Free Snacks”
Written by Paul Simms
Directed by Jamie Babbit
Airs Sundays at 10 PM on HBO
In “Free Snacks”, Girls gets to flex its comedy muscles, and writer Paul Simms sticks hilarious words in the mouths of Hannah (Lena Dunham) and Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet). But he also crafts those two characters’ overall arcs along with giving Mamet rapid fire dialogue that would make her father smile and letting Dunham emote about food and writing, mainly food. This episode is a lot of fun, and good things happen for Hannah, Adam (Adam Driver), and Ray (Alex Karpovsky). However, like most episodes of Girls, “Free Snacks” has a dark lining, mostly having to do with Hannah feeling like a corporate sell-out and Ray and Marnie’s (Allison Williams) mutual loneliness.
Girls Season 3 has been much funnier than Season 2 (especially “Truth or Dare”), and Simms has exchanged some of the doom and gloom for comedy at various characters’ expenses and actually making them say genuinely funny things. For examples, Hannah has quite a few clever ideas at the brainstorming session for her GQ piece, and this boosts her character’s confidence as well as making viewers (and her co-workers) laugh. Dunham also gets some great moments of physical humor every time the titular free snacks at GQ are involved. Simms continues to marry comedy and character development as Shoshanna follows Ray around and decides to pick one boyfriend instead of sleeping around. She gets the funniest sex scene of the series towards the end of the episode when she makes her “choice”. Mamet plays Shoshanna with a perfect blend of naivete and intelligence. She has a plan for her future, but still regrets some of her decisions, like breaking up with Ray. “Free Snacks” is probably her strongest episode as a character this season.
“Free Snacks” has a great deal of levity, but also contains the soul searching and uncertainty that is a huge part of Girls as a show. Working on an “advertorial” article for GQ, Hannah is faced with the reality of being a professional writer. Her editor (played by J. Crew creative director Jenna Lyons) nails Hannah’s predicament when she deadpans, “A lot of people want your job”. Like most young people, Hannah understands she might not make a living doing what she loves. The theme of stark reality continues when Marnie almost walks out on Ray when they have lunch together after having pity sex again. They have a pointless argument about Western aid to Africa and “semantics” when Ray shows why he is the flawed voice of reason of Girls with the observation that Marnie can’t leave because they have no one else to eat lunch with. Ray may have a successful coffee shop, but he has yet to find personal fulfillment. Marnie has neither personal nor professional success. Simms builds off the previous episode and explores why these characters work as a pairing due to being left out by their friends.
“Free Snacks” is yet another strong episode of Girls and is filled with humor and spot-on characterization. Simms gives most of Girls’ main characters something to do (Jessa gets a single uneventful scene) while providing insight into their characters through interactions and dialogue. His portrayal of Hannah is multidimensional as she is both happy for Adam’s successful audition, but also wants to write instead of spend time with him. Simms captures her passion for writing while not glossing over her selfishness. Hannah’s story in “Free Snacks” is one of several combinations of comedy, plot, and probing characterization that pervade this episode and make it an entertaining half hour of television.