Girls Season 3, Episode 8: “Incidentals”
Written by Lena Dunham and Sarah Heyward
Directed by Richard Shepard
Airs Sundays at 10 PM on HBO
With the exception of the storyline involving his sister, Adam (Adam Driver) has been on the margins of Girls Season Three. Much of the focus has been on Hannah’s (Lena Dunham) writing career and Marnie’s (Allison Williams) complete breakdown, which means that characters, like him, Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet), and Jessa (Jemima Kirke) have been relegated to the sidelines. Lena Dunham and Sarah Heyward make him and Jessa part of contrasting stories featuring a pair of very different guest stars. They also do another good job of bringing the main and guest cast together for hilarious and insightful interactions. The announcement of Adam’s casting in a Broadway play puts a lot of pressure on Hannah, and she actually weathers it quite well. Maybe she is growing as a character.
In “Incidentals”, Dunham and Heyward put Girls’ two most “aimless” characters, Jessa and Adam, on different kinds of collision courses. Adam finds success by being cast in a Broadway play while Jessa is stuck selling overpriced childrens’ clothes and hanging “nooses” around mannequins. Both their stories are filled with a lot of humor as Adam interacts with Broadway fanboy Elijah (Andrew Rannells), who tries to give him advice even though the closest he has gotten to a production is a hand-job from a Pippin cast member. Driver’s reactions to his giddiness show how grounded his character can be sometimes. Jemima Kirke also gets some good slapstick material to work with as she tries to keep busy at the infant boutique. However, the facade of her normal life is shattered when one of her rehab “flings” Jasper (Richard E. Grant) returns. He destroys what little character growth she has while simultaneously creeping out her friends. In contrast, Adam’s new friend and cast mate Desi (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) gives Marnie a much needed pep talk about her music career and also shows that Adam can have friends that aren’t Hannah. He’s not a perfect character and might be a stealth parody of Adam Driver’s role as a folk musician in Inside Llewyn Davis.As guest stars, Jasper and Desi reveal the development or lack of development in these characters while creating funny situations, like Hannah’s reaction to Desi and Marnie’s impromptu Bob Dylan sing-along.
Despite Jessa’s relapse into bad behavior, “Incidentals” is another example of a light, slice of life Season Three episode of Girls. Dunham and Heyward aren’t afraid to create and ramp up tension between characters, but there is always a good laugh to be had afterwards or during the argument. For example, both Ray (Alex Karpovsky) and Marnie are using each other because they feel lonely, but the drama between is defused by Allison Williams’ matter of fact delivery of lines like, “If I actually liked you, I wouldn’t be eating pizza in front of you.” This mix of multi-layered characters and humor is a big part of why Girls has been such an entertaining show this season. It may lack the dark, experimental elements of last season, but “Incidentals” plays to Girls’ biggest strength, which is using unique character dynamics (Adam and Elijah, for example) for both comedic and characterization purposes.