We have all had “what if” moments in life, when we wondered how our lives might be different if we made a different decision, if we said yes to that job, or gone to the party, and this week in Girls, Marnie had a chance to walk down one of those paths and got to look at her life from a totally different perspective.
I’ve made no secret about the fact that Marnie is my least favorite character in the series, and her relationship and marriage to Desi just made her even more unbearable to me. So when I found out this episode was completely about Marnie I was less than eager to watch it but I was pleasantly surprised.
The episode had minimal Desi, which was a definite plus and they brought back a character I loved and missed – Charlie. And that’s where Marnie’s “what if’”comes into play – Charlie was Marnie’s long term boyfriend when the series started and remained the biggest romantic influence in her life as she tells him that most of the songs on her album is based on him. He is a question that she needed answered, and this episode did that, while still learning a lot about herself on the way.
The episode begins with Marnie and Desi in the bed together and him not understanding that she is upset with him and therefore does not want to talk to him (even in that short scene he was annoying) and so she goes for walk – only to pass a few cat-callers, one of whom happens to be Charlie.
Charlie is a very different man to the tech genius, a sweet man that Marnie used to date, he’s now bigger, has a hulking beard, a different accent and is a lot tougher. He takes her shopping for a sparkly red dress, and then to what is clearly a cocaine deal whereby she cons an older gentleman into giving her money before they go on a boat ride and share a kiss. It’s extreme, it’s fun, it’s this still very young woman who is always too eager to grow up and make it appear as though she has everything under control, enjoying her life for once.
The two discuss whether they should run away together and we can see Marnie seriously considering it and they end up having sex. The next morning, everything becomes clearer for Marnie though, and she sees that Charlie lives in an apartment block where he shares a bathroom with the other tenants, and a discussion with one of the other tenants about her own tragic love life leads Marnie to reevaluate her own life further. But it is the discovery of a heroin kit in Charlie’s possession that truly pushes Marnie over the edge.
She goes back home to Desi in her red dress sans shoes (I should probably throw in here that on the way home she and Charlie got robbed by gunpoint and the robber took all her possessions including her wedding ring). She tells Desi that she does not want to be married to him anymore and that she knew marrying him was a bad idea, but she did not want to give up on another dream. He bites back by telling her that she’s too naive for the world. And the episode ends on a beautiful shot of Marnie climbing into bed next to Hannah and Fran, and Hannah just acknowledging her presence.
I have written ad nauseam about how I feel like this is the most honest series about young people in their 20s, and this episode truly drove that home for me. Yes, Marnie was self-righteous and annoying, but this episode drove home the fact that she is a human being so there are other aspects to her, parts of her that is sympathetic and she is young, she is still developing, she is learning.
I’ve had so many friends over the years not give up things that they knew were bad and toxic for them because they did not want to ruin the appearance and image that they built for themselves or they did not want to be seen as a flake for changing their mind so often – which means they ended up stuck in bad marriages, bad jobs, bad lifestyle decisions. Marnie choosing to leave Desi was a courageous move – it meant admitting she made a mistake. Being single again and going right back to the start is something that is foreign for Marnie. I still maintain that she would never have had the courage to pursue her music if she was not fired from her job at the art gallery. Marnie is changing, Marnie is growing, and Alison Williams is portraying her perfectly through the entire journey.