‘Girls’ Season 3 Episode 10 Recap: “Role-Play”


Who knew Adam was so in touch with his emotions? For someone who opts to communicate mostly in grunts these days, it turns out he’s actually given some thought to his creepy sexual idiosyncrasies and why they vanished out of thin air this season. The problem is that he’s never opted to share much of this introspection with his girlfriend (that is, not that we’ve seen), and by the time she forces it out of him, it’s too late. Hannah’s relationship finally implodes in “Role-Play,” but for once, it’s not entirely her fault. She’s just making a last-ditch effort to save her and Adam in the only way Hannah knows how: going completely over-the-top.

Alarm bells first start to go off when Adam seems more worried about his costume’s coat collar than he is about Hannah getting so drunk she had to sleep over at a male, straight coworker’s. Maybe it’s because he hasn’t seen the chemistry between sweet, honest Joe and Hannah that we have, but when your girlfriend doesn’t come home for the night after leaving a slurred voicemail, the least you can do is ask what happened. Hannah’s self-centered, sure, but asking for a little concern from your live-in boyfriend isn’t high-maintenance histrionics; it’s the bare minimum for a reciprocal relationship.

The final straw comes when Adam doesn’t object as Hannah’s ejected from the rehearsal he invited her to. After that and a domestic scene that’s half-cute, half-disturbingly old school patriarchal (“Come here,” Adam beckons as he doesn’t bother to look up from his book), Hannah concludes she’s rapidly becoming “an ottoman with a vagina” to the most important person in her life. Side note: is Andrew Rannells back to full-blown cast member now that The New Normal is over? I hope so, because that burritos-in-bed bitch session was so unabashedly self-centered and whiny I want Hannah and Elijah to land their own talk show.

Hannah’s end may be sympathetic, but the means by which she intends to get there are the cringiest Girls has opted to go in a long, long time. Ridiculous as her blonde wig and bored-housewife routine are, though, they’re not as woefully misguided as one might think. Adam actually starts to play along and enjoy himself once he figures out what’s going on. He’s not even bothered when Hannah gets him punched in the face! I took it as a sign that Hannah’s gone outside of herself and bothered to get to know Adam and his wants after all. And for some reason, the tiny detail that she ordered him a “vodka” made out of water and a lime wedge struck me as one of the sweeter romantic gestures I’ve seen on TV.

Eventally, it’s not the lingerie that makes Hannah “look like a fuckin’ Christmas tree” or even her use of Marnie’s apartment, which unsurprisingly smells like “cookies and air freshener,” that kills the mood. Instead, Hannah opts to switch fantasies to the school weirdo/cheerleader dynamic, a setup that proves too much for Adam. Hannah asks what we’re all thinking: why is the guy who once told his then-hookup that she’s an eleven year old girl walking home from school turned off by a fantasy which, relative to that, is about as vanilla as missionary with the lights on?

According to Adam, it’s because he has something of a Madonna/whore complex. Anonymous, meaningless sex is a coping device for his alcoholism; tender, meaningful sex is an expression of love and connection with his girlfriend. The two don’t mix, and when Hannah shifted from the former category to the latter, so did their sex life. It’s a gross dichotomy the longer one thinks about it: are the women in Adam’s life simply objects until they earn the right not to be treated that way? Once they have, are they not allowed to have any kind of desires that aren’t “sweet, or whatever”? What about Natalia?

As if that’s not bad enough, Adam decides to wallop Hannah with her biggest (current) insecurity: the lack of creative satisfaction she’s getting at her stable, lucrative job. He doesn’t have time for elaborate fantasies, he tells her, because he’s got to focus on his big role. “I get it, I have a job too,” she pleads, and that’s when he drops the bomb: “It’s not the same thing.” Because unlike Hannah, you see, Adam “really care[s]” about his Major Barbara gig, because unlike Hannah, Adam’s hit the mother lode of a well-paying, well-publicized, substantive creative job while his sellout of a girlfriend churns out copy up the street.

Needless to say, I don’t blame Adam entirely for the temporary break-up, but I definitely blame him more than Hannah, who’s only driven to desperate measures because nothing else would force Adam to come out of his shell and tell her what’s wrong. Acting is hard and demanding and emotionally draining, yes, but asking your girlfriend how she feels the day after getting puke-on-her-dress drunk isn’t the hardest gesture to make. Hannah’s not a perfect girlfriend, but she deserves to feel cared for and wanted, not shamed for her choice of both sexual fantasy and career in the same breath.

I’ll skip over Marnie, because Jesus, we get it, the pretty girl thinks she deserves everything and as cosmic punishment will get nothing. Let’s move on to Jessa and Shoshanna!

Once again, Shoshanna works best in conversation with other characters. This time, she stages an intervention for Jasper, the fellow addict Jessa’s latched onto, by bringing his despondent daughter into the mix. Jessa, who desperately wants company in her misery, holds onto him for as long as she possibly can before lashing out at her cousin. Now that her security blanket’s gone, Jessa’s forced to face reality. “I am a junkie,” she tells Shoshanna as she tragically smokes a cigarette on their stoop.

But if rehab didn’t help her, what will? Jessa doesn’t have a grown child to remind her of her responsibilities or the person she used to be at her best. At only twenty…four? five? Jessa’s barely had time to be at her best, or figure out what that is. She’s got no pre-addiction persona to revert to. All that’s left is to figure out who she is sans substances. And with Shoshanna freshly alienated, she’ll have to do it alone.