The 'Girls' Gut Check: But What Does Peeing by the Railroad Tracks *Mean*?

CHRIS: I'm not foolish enough to think that Girls has an identity crisis, but I think it's rapidly approaching the point where it needs to decide what it wants to be. Should it continue to thrive on chaos? Should it take a turn toward the introspective? Does the comedy inherent in its basic premise—young people in New York figuring out how to be adults—still apply?

At the risk of repeating myself from a few weeks back, Girls needs to address the same issues that Louie did between its first and second seasons. That show is funny, but I wouldn't call it a funny show anymore. The sooner that Girls decides what it wants to be, the sooner we can forget about the episodes that didn't work—like this one.

LINDSAY: I agree. It made me laugh a few times, but I don't usually walk away from the show feeling so terrible—this episode in particular put a really bad taste in my mouth. As for the scene change, it mostly seemed like an excuse to introduce some oddball characters that could be played for guffaws, but their world never seemed real enough to justify a whole episode spent away from Brooklyn and the rest of the characters. The other, just-Hannah episodes felt like a different show, but in a good, innovative way that allowed her character room to breathe. This just felt like a lot was missing.

"I don't usually walk away from the show feeling so terrible. This episode put a really bad taste in my mouth."

ELEANOR: I LOVE that Girls lets us see the characters' families. Sex and the City made a big point of never showing us any of the girls' parents, which I found odd and unsatisfying. If you care about a character, you want to see where they came from. And if that means setting a whole episode in Manitou, NY or Lansing, MI, so be it. I agree that this particular episode wasn't as well executed as it could be, but I appreciate it nonetheless for the hint it gave us of Jessa's origin story.

ASHLEY: I, too, am pretty pleased that we're finally seeing more of what makes Jessa the way she is. Up until these last few episodes, Jessa's been one of the less fully developed characters on the show—and for me, she's always failed what Willa Paskin at Salon so excellently calls "the Julie Taylor test," in which a viewer tries to imagine a character's inner thoughts.

I agree that the idea was better than the execution, but this episode at least intended to go to a place where Jessa felt things, where we got to see her feelings and her better judgment duking it out. Apparently that place is Manitou, New York, and I'd say even if getting there took the show on a weird detour, the side trip was worth it for that.

Feeling the burn: Uh, what was going on with that UTI plot line? Is Lena just trying to gross us out anew or what?

ELEANOR: I didn't find this plotline particularly gross. Urinary tract infections are incredibly, incredibly common among women. I know this to be true anecdotally (women talk, especially when they're in pain). But it's also true statistically: According to NIH, a woman's chances of getting at least one UTI in her lifetime are more than 50 percent. So it would be weird if one of the Girls characters DIDN'T have a UTI at some point.

ASHLEY: Yeah. Hannah's urinary tract infection scenes were unsettling, and yes, a little bit gross. But they did pay apt tribute to how gross and unsettling urinary tract infections actually are. Props to yet another bluntly honest portrayal of real people's bodies on TV, I guess!

CHRIS: Wasn't it an obnoxious portrayal, too? Hannah's phone call with her parents at the end of the episode seems to acknowledge this, but it still left me thinking of it as a punchline searching for a joke. It's good to be honest about people's bodies. It's one of the many things I enjoy about Girls. I'm just not so sure of the intent here.

JAMES: Exactly, which is what made me think it might tie into something in an upcoming episode. Until then we can continue to consider what Hannah's "UTI" means.

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