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Girls leans on its most irritating elements in one of its weakest episodes to date

Once bitten, twice shy

C+
Allison Williams (Photo: HBO)
Allison Williams (Photo: HBO)
C+

Girls

"Full Disclosure"

Season 6 , Episode 6

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“Full Disclosure” is one of the oddest, lumpiest half-hours Girls has ever turned out, an episode equally comprising the show’s most and least appealing elements. It’s an episode that could only exist within the final season, when it’s acceptable for a show this character-driven to suddenly make big plot moves to get the characters where they need to go. “Disclosure” will probably look like a necessary evil once the show’s endgame is complete, but man, is it ever frustrating in the moment.

The title presumably refers to Hannah’s process of slowly informing her friends and loved ones about her pregnancy, as well as opening up to the idea of Paul-Louis at least knowing about the baby if nothing else. There’s yet another lovely and surprising moment when Marnie, of all people, backs Hannah’s decision to carry the baby to term. Somehow, when Marnie talks about Hannah’s unborn child as a startling but ultimately manageable development, her reassurance is even more comforting than Loreen’s was. Hannah’s pregnancy isn’t just maturing her; it’s maturing the people around her, granting them the opportunity to show that they can stand by Hannah during trying circumstances.

Elijah has also come around on Hannah’s pregnancy, so much so that he’s taken to referring to the child as “our baby” and pledging to ensure the kid has great skin and is “the right kind of slutty.” Elijah’s apology came together more quickly than anticipated, considering how venomous and cruel he was during their argument. That scene was so painful that I’d have liked to see some more steps involved in their reconciliation. After several seasons of watching Hannah rend her garments over her fractured bond with Jessa, it would have been a nice change of pace to watch Hannah fight for a relationship she actually cares about.

What makes Hannah and Elijah’s quick-and-dirty resolution all the more maddening is that “Disclosure” devotes even more time to Adam and Jessa’s film project, a plot that has somehow gotten more obnoxious since its introduction. Shooting a 47-minute film about their romantic entanglements strikes me as just the kind of self-absorbed passion project Adam and Jessa would invest in. Because of how appropriate it feels for the characters, the film storyline doesn’t have quite the self-congratulatory stench that this kind of meta storytelling tends to have. But even though the Adam and Jessa scenes don’t make me question whether those characters would be making these choices, it does make me wonder why I have to watch them.

And for that matter, why does Hannah have to watch them? The only thing more obnoxious than the film itself is Adam and Jessa’s insistence on getting Hannah’s approval at every step of the process. Generally speaking, you don’t film a barely fictionalized account of your relationship with woman with mental health issues if the subject’s opinion is super important. And yet, here is Adam stalking Hannah down the street pleading that Hannah watch the movie as an opportunity for “closure.” Adam has said and done plenty of awful things, but arguably none worse than browbeating his ex-girlfriend into watching the short film he made about her. That’s sociopathic behavior.

At least I think Adam’s behavior is sociopathic, but the real experts on such questions are apparently Hannah and Jessa, who lob psychiatric insults back and forth without making clear they have any idea what those terms mean. It says a lot about Jessa that she thinks it’s her place to confront Hannah about not disclosing her pregnancy when she apparently didn’t think Hannah deserved to know about Adam. Hannah found out about Adam and Jessa’s relationship by picking up on their body language, then had it confirmed by friends who probably should have mentioned it sooner. But Jessa thinks she should have been among the first to know about Hannah’s baby?

In hindsight, the Adam and Jessa romance has been nothing but trouble for Girls because it has taken two distinct stories—Hannah’s struggles to define her friendships and navigate her relationship with Adam—and fused them into one thing. Instead of forcing Hannah to figure out her friendship with Jessa, which was pretty complicated before Adam factored into it, Hannah and Jessa’s fractured friendship has become exclusively about Jessa’s betrayal and its aftermath. The show has leaned toward that story, which is the most scandalous plotline in a show that studiously avoids sensationalism, and the effect has been palpable.

Apparently there’s no room for a substantive storyline for Shoshanna this season, while there’s plenty of time for endless dissection of Adam and Jessa’s affair and to pretend Hannah and Jessa were ever really close friends. It’s a new-mother cliche to prattle on about how having a baby makes you realize what’s truly important in life, but hopefully Hannah will make an exception and embrace a cliche just this once. Because there are a lot of unimportant people sucking up the oxygen around her.

Stray observations

  • I’ve maybe never hated a Hannah and Adam scene more than this one, since it served no purpose other than to inform Adam and Jessa about the pregnancy.
  • As much as I hate the “Adam and Jessa’s movie” plot, it is interesting that they’re playing with this idea of Adam growing more sympathetic to Hannah as Jessa grows more irritated with her.
  • Hopefully this is really the end for Marnie and Desi, who probably don’t need to have any kind of relationship, musical or otherwise.
  • Marnie’s mom gets episode MVP for those moving backing vocals.