Girls, Ep. 3.10, “Role-Play” takes central relationship to a dark place

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Girls Season 3, Episode 10: “Role-Play”
Written by Lena Dunham and Judd Apatow
Directed by Jesse Peretz
Airs Sundays at 10 PM on HBO

All the tension building up from Adam (Adam Driver) getting a part in a Broadway play to Hannah’s (Lena Dunham) mom’s offhanded comment about “keeping the job, not the guy” last week comes to fruition in “Role Play”. To spice up their relationship, Hannah tries to engage Adam in a role playing session. These scenes are funny, but also sad, and show how Adam has developed as a character from the previous seasons. Girls could go the sitcom route with this storyline, but decides to explore its dark implications as Hannah seems unable to deal with a motivated, more focused Adam. Dunham and Apatow play Adam and Jessa (Jemima Kirke) as foils again, as Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet) tries to get Jessa away from Jasper (Richard E. Grant) by attempting to reunite him with his daughter Dot (Felicity Jones). “Role-Play” is a big turning point in Girls Season 3 and reveals the weaknesses in arguably the show’s most stable relationship.

After an episode without most of the main cast, Dunham and Apatow give them quite a lot to do in this episode, which is the most plot-heavy Girls episode in a while. Marnie (Allison Williams) has been in emotional and employment limbo for most of this season, but gets a job at Soo-Jin’s (Greta Lee) art gallery and is challenged (creatively, but not romantically) as a singer by Adam’s cast-mate Desi (Ebon Moss-Bachrach). Dunham and Apatow insert some hope in an ultimately sad episode by giving Marnie a chance at getting her life together. This treatment doesn’t extend to Jessa, whose current state is perfectly captured by director Jesse Peretz’s long take of her smoking a cigarette in front of Shoshanna’s apartment. Life isn’t a steady character arc, but full of ups and downs, like Jessa’s storyline this season. She is the most volatile character and the complete opposite of Jasper’s successful daughter Dot that Shoshanna brings in so that Jessa can get help and be removed from a negative influence. The scenes with Jasper, Dot, Shoshanna, and Jessa have some clunky exposition, and the outcome of their conversation is a little too clean. However, Jessa ends up at rock bottom with her addiction and wry sense of humor, with no signs of her picking up the pieces.

The subplots of “Role-Play” are strong, especially Marnie’s small, but plot-moving scenes. However, Hannah and Adam’s relationship is the heart of this episode and is good for a few laughs and even more thought-provoking emotional moments. Adam sums up his argument with Hannah in a great line from their bar roleplaying scene, “You have to take the whole, or take nothing.” Hannah must learn to love the gainfully employed actor Adam just like she did the physically injured, possibly sociopathic wreck of Season 2. This episode reveals how blind she is to Adam’s character development over Season 3, as his love for her helped him finally achieve his dream of acting  on Broadway and center his life after only looking for meaningless diversions. He still has awkward mannerisms and is filled with wild passion, but Adam finally has a sense of purpose in his life. If Hannah can’t accept this, maybe they don’t belong together. Peretz pieces together a pair of opening scenes where Hannah goes out drinking and ends up passed out at a male co-worker’s house with Adam’s quiet night in reading a book. Without them exchanging dialogue, it makes a comment on the state of their relationship, and Adam’s progress juxtaposed with Hannah’s possible regression as a character. On the surface, “Role-Play” is a showcase for Lena Dunham’s comedic abilities, but it really is an honest look at how relationships eventually fall apart slowly depending on various outside factors.

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