girls 3x7 beach house

After a somewhat encouraging episode last week (in what has turned out to be a fairly uneventful season), the Girls crew took a trip to not-the-Hamptons in order to reconnect with each other after a fraught season full of passive aggression and rifts. Because the girls can’t ever have a party that doesn’t end in disaster, they find themselves stripped down and fighting, and Shoshanna brilliantly calls them all out on their bullshit, making her my new favorite character. The episode also, at long last, gave us some insight to an actual show about female friendships, instead of one that pretends to be.

I’ve criticized the writing of Shosh as a caricature of human, thinking of it as lazy writing and one dimensional. For the first time in three seasons, the writers decided to give Shosh some dimension, and when Hannah insinuates that Shosh is unintelligent, she unloads on Hannah and the rest of the girls proving that she hasn’t been too stupid to pick up on their crap all this time.

The wardrobe department aptly put the girls into costumes that perfectly mirrored their characters–Shosh in a season one-era Juicy tracksuit, Hannah in a bathing suit (she refuses to put on clothing all weekend), Marnie in a domestic hostess dress, and Jessa in something flowy. It was an effective way of stripping down the characters to encompass what we know about them, and Shosh takes the opportunity to nail each of them–Hannah’s monstrous narcissism, Marnie’s crippling insecurity, Jessa’s pathological flakiness, and their shared selfishness that makes them horrible friends.

They all seemed shocked (as was I) that she had it in her, and I wished that Shoshanna had been allowed to have some opinions earlier on, instead of stumbling over basic conversation. I suppose that would have made her takedown slightly less satisfying, but they could have made her an actual person earlier on. Even though she’s the voice of reason and accuses them of constantly treating her like she doesn’t matter, even her takedown is still engineered to support Hannah, Marnie, and Jessa. It doesn’t change them–they all react by reinforcing their deeply flawed personalities.

This was easily my favorite episode of the season. Dreamier episodes that take the girls out of their regular lives give us something to work with that’s not just Hannah complaining about how life is unfair. But what really got me was the absence of boyfriends. My biggest disappointment about Girls has always been that it’s not a show about girls.

I can only speak for myself but I see a glaring lack of honest portrayals of female friendships on television, which is how we end up with narratives that are all based on competition, fighting over men, and manipulation that permeate past pop culture and into the general conception of women. So an episode without boyfriends around and wherein the girls have to actually interact was refreshing. I was jarred out of my lady-friend bliss when Hannah stormed out of the fight with an “I miss my boyfriend!,” because it reminded me of how much this show could easy be called Boys Girls Are Sleeping With. Sometimes They Have Female Friends.

“Beach House” gave us a taste of two things that I hope to see more of in the remainder of the season: Shoshanna showing she won’t be “treated like a cab driver” and the girls focusing on things besides their boyfriends for like five minutes. However, the episode seemed to end on a note of everything’s going back to normal, so I’m not sure we’ll see either of those dreams come true until their next getaway.

Photo: HBO