While season 2 has been rocky at times, Lena Dunhan continues to satirise the self-indulgent, self-righteous 20-something with masochistic alacrity. In episode 5, the subtlety of the writing has caused much consternation as to whether it’s Dunham’s wish-fulfillment, Dunham’s character’s wish fulfillment, or is what it is.
Those who don’t understand the satire think Dunham is Mary-Sue-ing her pudgy self into bed with a much more attractive character, others argue that the single-threaded dreamlike setting and the “too perfect” partner points to Hannah (Dunham’s character) constructing a subjective fantasy from more mundane parts.
Obviously, I think the first position is completely wrong (though Dunham’s enthusiastic political involvement at the last election confused me – I thought she was parodying such activities). The point of the episode is to demonstrate how Hannah’s solipsism and disregard for others (more than her oft-derided body) drive away even the most understanding partners. Hannah is overjoyed that she’s seducing a married doctor in a swanky apartment, using her Manic Pixie Dreamgirl powers, and ends up ignoring who her partner is.
The second position is just unnecessary: Patrick Wilson’s character has plenty of problems of his own that Hannah is too self-involved to perceive, and his mounting disbelief at her craziness is clearly perceptible to the viewer but not to Hannah.
Both these positions claim the relationship is implausible, but it’s not out of the question that a 42-year-old workaholic doctor forced to re-examine his life, feeling like he doesn’t belong, would respond to a sexually aggressive 24-year-old, particularly if the doctor hadn’t been “on the market” for a while. Hannah is accustomed to hooking up with crazies who don’t treat her well, and her realisation that Joshua is not like them leads to her cringe-worthy end-of-episode meltdown. Heck, the title of the episode is “One Man’s Trash”
Anyway, Dunham continues her tradition of portraying flawed and unlikeable characters, and does a great job.