JAMES: I once realized that I'd been living with a woman for seven years, and that we'd married and had four children. They all had the same name and underbites. Luckily, it was a dream.
The Thomas-John and Jessa meltdown: Who's at fault here?
ELEANOR: Where to begin? They were obviously a terrible match in the first place—cynical free spirit + cynical finance douchebag = recipe for combustion. So you could say that the fight itself was no one's fault. It was an inevitable result of two incompatible people trying to live life together. But this particular fight, the way it played out, seemed to be a teeny bit more Jessa's fault than TJ's. She was outright hostile with TJ's parents—criticizing the restaurant, chewing with her mouth open—even before the dad got lechy and the mom accused her of being a gold-digger. TJ, to his credit, defended Jessa to his parents and tried to keep things civil. Maybe if Jessa had put in a bit more effort at dinner, and things hadn't gone quite so poorly with his parents, the subsequent fight wouldn't have been so nasty. Still, as I said, a relationship-ending argument was going to happen no matter what.
"Jessa and Thomas-John were a terrible match in the first place. Cynical free spirit + cynical finance douchebag = recipe for combustion."
CHRIS: Jessa poured gasoline on their relationship and Thomas-John lit the match. Yes, she acted like a brat while meeting his parents, but he also accused her of only marrying him for his money. (Not to mention how he suggested that he likes prostitutes more than HIS WIFE.) Thomas-John grossly violated her faith in the relationship, and that's what ultimately sparked the meltdown. As Eleanor says, this was a terrible match from the very beginning, and it makes me think back to the speech Kathryn Hahn's character gave to Jessa last season. This was an impulsive marriage fueled by ulterior motives. Shacking up allowed Jessa and Thomas-John to temporarily set aside their hang-ups, but it's no accident that they fired off scathing insults at each other so quickly when things turned sour. This relationship was doomed.
ASHLEY: Can I go 60-40, Jessa being slightly more at fault? Thomas-John clearly lost his patience with Jessa in a huge, ugly way that revealed some huge, ugly problems, but Jessa doesn't seem to feel the need to make an effort to get along with other people ever. Her "can't-tell-me-nothing" attitude is refreshing and even charming sometimes on the show, but this is one moment where I, as a viewer, finally got exasperated with Jessa.
Remember last season when Marnie said she dreaded being around Jessa because Jessa made her turn into the uptight, cranky one? I felt like Marnie.
CHRIS: Even Marnie doesn't want to feel like Marnie. Poor Marnie.
ASHLEY: I feel like we should be keeping a running tally of how many times we use "Poor Marnie" in this series.
CHRIS: That's not the name of the show?
The dinner party: Hannah seems to think that cooking for friends proves you're an adult. A common attitude?
CHRIS: Definitely. I can't tell you how many dinner parties my friends and I have thrown since we've graduated from college, and I'm quite sure we do it to announce our maturity to ourselves. (Also, we do it to stuff our faces with food without spending money we don't have, but that's pretty much the point of everything you do when you're 23.) There's something deeply satisfying about cooking a meal for the people closest to you. When you're young and striking out on your own, even more so.
My unsolicited tip for Hannah? Don't invite your best friend, her ex, and her ex's new girlfriend to the same dinner party. Your table only seats, like, six people.
JAMES: No! Invite those people. The best dinner parties are totally powered by palpable tension.
ELEANOR: Yeah, I think crafting a good guest list is as much a sign of maturity as making pad thai without burning the noodles. There have to be more than three Oberlin grads in New York City—Hannah could have taken the opportunity to expand her social circle a bit.
CHRIS: Imagine if she invited the ladies who did her eyebrows in the first season. Now *that* would be a dinner party I'd go to. New 'brows for everyone!
ASHLEY: Well, that escalated quickly. I think the whole setup was pretty spot-on. Cooking a dinner for your closest friends (and closest friends' ex-boyfriends, if you want, and closest friends' ex-boyfriends' new girlfriends, if you're into that) is very satisfying, like Chris says. And even more than that—in my experience, at least—hosting a dinner party has kind of become a way to prove to your guests that you've managed to get some semblance of control over your life; something about being able to afford all the ingredients and not start a fire in your own kitchen translates to your friends being disallowed from judging you. Is that a girl thing? Maybe that's a girl thing.