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Optimism ran high at the start of this week’s episode for Girls on Girls podcasters and THR staffers Rebecca Sun, Brandon Kirby, Jessie Katz and Pret-a-Reporter editor Erin Weinger as we watched Hannah enter the all-too-familiar terrain of corporate magazine publishing.
But as Girls does best, things soon took a turn for the existential, and we were left to debate the price of entry into the metaphorical snack room of life.
Below, find the transcript and full audio of this week’s podcast, Episode Five of Girls on Girls (+ One Guy):
Erin Weinger: This episode was called “Free Snacks,” alluding to the free-snack room at GQ magazine, where Hannah gets a job working in the advertorial copy department. She’s no longer working at the coffee shop, which maybe brings us to our first Girls Graph point here:
EW: Hannah got a job!
Jessie Katz: A big job!
Brandon Kirby: It’s the first time we’ve seen her — aside from season one — kind of in a legit job.
JK: Kind of in the realm of the field she wants to work in, although Ray was very quick to point out how it’s a complete sell-out job.
Rebecca Sun: It’s a corporate job. I think it’s something that we, as people who also have corporate jobs, can speak uniquely to. Everyone has romantic aspirations when they start out in their career. Everyone wants to be Joe Mitchell. But I think she kind of quickly divests herself of those illusions when she has a talk with her fellow advertorial colleagues, who have all had amazing accomplishments.
EW: In the literary world, and the poetry world.
RS: Right, who have all dabbled in the “dark arts,” which Hannah has not, and yet are on their way to becoming lifers, which scares Hannah quite a bit.
EW: I have to say, I always wanted a corporate job. As somebody who always wanted to be a writer and work at a big magazine, if GQ had offered me an advertorial job when I was Hannah’s age, I would have been thrilled.
JK: But Hannah sees herself as more a Joan Didion type.
EW: Right, she’s smarter than me. I just wanted to write about clothes.
JK: It’s different kinds of writing!
RS: The thing is that Hannah, like Ray who thinks he’s too wise for graduate school, has an ingrained sense of entitlement and superiority that prevents her from fulfilling her goals.
JK: I don’t think that’s entitlement, though. I think that’s an artist’s eternal struggle about pursuing your art and paying the bills.
RS: The fact that Hannah thinks GQ editorial opposed to advertorial is some paragon of literary acclaim – I mean, I like GQ, I have friends who worked for GQ, it’s great – but the fact that she thinks of that as some peak of literary credibility and that advertorial is totally selling out … her views are completely inconsistent.
JK: I thought she just sees GQ in general as selling out, as a long-term goal. She’s happy to be there short term. She doesn’t want that to be her career.
RS: Does she want to do ‘zines?
JK: She wants to write books! That’s what she was pursuing up until David died.
BK: What’s most interesting, I think, is that we saw Hannah drop the snacks on the table and my first thought was, “Great, here we go, another thing where Hannah just f—s it up.” But she’s great! She’s smart, she’s bright, she has good ideas, and she just shines in this meeting. I was just white-knuckling it waiting for her to screw up, and she doesn’t. Even when she calls out her co-workers, saying, “You’re all sell-outs,” they took it surprisingly well.
JK: Because they agree!
RS: What’s great is that her advertorial colleagues where kind of unfazed by it. I don’t know if that’s because they’re completely hollowed out by working in corporate too long, or if it’s because they have a slightly more mature perspective.
BK: They like their gym membership.
RS: Yeah, “there are things in life beyond my purest dreams.”
EW: Well this is the writing of Girls, whether it’s Lena writing the episode or someone else, but they get these jabs into anything mainstream or corporate or whatnot. And I think in this case, it’s the romantic fantasy to think that anyone who works at a glossy is just a failed artistic writer. There are people who actually want to be working in advertorial. Maybe not this particular group, but it’s a well-paying job, it’s stable, there are benefits, there’s insurance. It’s a job.
JK: But at the same time, it’s a perfect encapsulation that the show does so well, of this kind of hump you go through in your 20s, of being like, “Okay, a few years ago I was sitting in my creative writing class in Oberlin and dreaming of the amazing fiction writer I was gonna be, and now I’m trading it all in for the health insurance.” And that’s life.
BK: So the big question is, is Hannah a Finance Up or Down?
RS: I vote Down. Even if she’s still there at GQ advertorial, she has definitely made some sort of negative impression on her boss.
JK: The boss seemed not to care though.
RS: Even if the boss didn’t care, Hannah cared. Hannah was crying at her desk, she came home sad, feeling like that day didn’t go as well as the first day.
EW: Well we have to remember there is another Up here, which was Ray, who has opened his own shop and is being written about, as they said, in popular service publications.
JK: Shoshanna is keeping close tabs.
EW: Listen, it’s very attractive. You want to date a guy who is in Time Out.
JK: She’s stalking him in this outfit of an Upper East Side widow.
RS: That was an amazing coat and sunglasses!
BK: Fashion Up for Shosh?
JK: Okay, all things being relative I will give you Ray as a Finance Up. But I’m putting an asterisk that Hannah’s Finance Down is a down on her creative writing career.
BK: It’s a down on what she envisions herself ultimately doing.
RS: We all agree that she’s down. We’re just interpreting it in different ways.
EW: Moving on to my favorite subject – fashion! I personally had a big Up, which was a lovely new character named Joe. He is Hannah’s new co-worker in the GQ advertorial department.
JK: And we are predisposed to love him because this actor also played Benji in my favorite film from 2013, Frances Ha.
EW: We love him. We love all of those things. So Joe had some good plaid. I just had this debate the other day with the costume designer from How I Met Your Mother that there are varying degrees of plaid. There’s the hipster plaid; there’s the man plaid. Somebody else last night mentioned “mountain plaid,” the kind of flannel that you wear up to the mountains.
JK: Which has a crossover with hipster plaid. They’re trying to appropriate the mountain plaid.
EW: This plaid was some good plaid. It just worked. It was good man plaid.
BK: His hair was a little odd.
JK: That long, gelly thing.
RS: The bang was too heavy.
BK: It’s okay. The plaid evened it out.
RS: It’s a little emo Peter Parker in Spider-Man 3.
BK: Oh god! I thought we had forgotten that existed, Rebecca!
RS: I returned it to consciousness.
JK: So the plaid is Up. What’s Down?
EW: Down would probably be the too-small black dress that was sold to a woman for her baby’s christening by Jessa at her new job.
RS: It’s chic! It works unless your 1-year-old is morbidly obese.
BK: She’s gonna be out of that job yesterday. God help her.
JK: So Jessa is Down for being unfit for a job in children’s fashion.
BK: Fornication is another split. Shosh with her new (what she wants to be) boyfriend. She’s getting it from behind while she’s negotiating the terms of this guy being her boyfriend, and he clearly just wants to get it in, so that’s a major down. Poor Shosh.
JK: She’s worried that their kids will be so stupid that they won’t even get into preschool.
BK: But who else is having sex? It’s Ray and Marnie, once again. Just another Down.
JK: It’s the lesser of two Downs.
RS: I think that Ray and Marnie are the lesser of the Downs in the sense that they came out a little better. Even if the sex wasn’t that spectacular, it was a step forward in terms of however their relationship can currently be defined. They actually went and got lunch afterward and had a conversation, and then had a fight, and then reconciled from that fight. That means that the sex wasn’t that bad that it turned them off from one another forever.
JK: True. So in our world of low standards for the characters of Girls …
RS: Our basement standards …
BK: Ray and Marnie are a big Up!
JK: Which leads us into Friendship, which is also Up for Ray and Marnie perhaps because — speaking of that Chinatown conversation — Ray said, “You have no one else to eat lunch with and neither do I,” and that pretty much sums up all we’re looking for in another human being.
BK: Right? Just someone to eat lunch with. They are both just such their own little islands that their islands have merged.
EW: I’m wondering when we’re going to see Marnie with the other characters.
BK: Yeah, what is going on?
JK: Again, she’s in exile.
EW: I also think everyone has their own thing going on, but it’s very strange that six episodes in we still have not seen her really interact with anyone.
BK: Except at the birthday, and even that was fleeting.
EW: I can only imagine this is a scheduling issue at this point. I mean what’s going on? I don’t understand!
RS: Maybe that’s what’s driving her into the arms of Ray. If we had to pick one person, the fact that he initiated contact with Marnie, he called her up and said, “Let’s not let this affect our friendship. I’m attempting to follow the codes of a gentleman.”
JK: And a squire!
RS: Even though they weren’t even friends at that point, he’s making this friendship happen. He has his moments where he totally loses his temper and gets pretentious, but Ray is becoming an adult.
BK: So it’s a Ray Up. Friendship Down, we have Hannah, right?
JK: Well, a particular part of Hannah.
RS: A feature.
EW: Hannah’s face! Hanna’s face is a Friendship Down because one of her friends at work came to her and said, point blank, “I don’t like you. I don’t like your face.” And again in Hannah’s show of selfishness, instead of being upset that she’s done something to anger a new potential friend and colleague, she wondered if her face reminded him of a man or a woman. So she was concerned that she looked like a man.
JK: I mean in her defense, there’s not much you can do about someone just hating your face. It’s one of the few things Hannah can’t change.
EW: You can spit in theirs!
JK: Touché! A little life lesson there for you, listeners.
EW: Don’t ever take that from anybody. She should have thrown a bagel from Russ and Daughters in his face.
JK: What a good job, free Russ and Daughters lox.
RS: Oh my gosh! So expensive!
EW: Is that what they do at Condé Nast? Should we be crawling over?
RS: It is pretty amazing. I’ve been in that cafeteria. It is nice.
EW: I mean we get the City Deli or whatever on Mondays, so we’ve got our own Russ and Daughters in the form of turkey meatloaf.
JK: Take that, GQ!
EW: What else, guys? What are we missing?
RS: We should probably shout out that Jenna Lyons, the J. Crew creative director, played Hannah’s boss.
JK: She rocked it, right? She felt pretty authentic. She looked the part, very deadpan.
RS: I loved that even-toned, not-fazed-by-anything voice that she had. That was pretty great.
EW: She looked the part of an advertorial writer putting together a campaign for Neiman Marcus.
RS: I liked Hannah’s GQ co-workers. They seemed like the kind of friends you would end up having.
EW: I think we covered some good ground, here.
JK: There’s still a lot left to go this season. We’re at the halfway point. We do know that we have Andrew Rannells to look forward to at some point.
BK: And June Squibb!
JK: So gird your loins and buckle up.
BK: The second half of Girls on Girls is going to be wild.
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