Tuesday, June 19, 2012

What June 19th Means To Me: The Most Interesting Character Of The Spring Television Season

The show might be called Girls, but any discussion of it naturally centers around the sometimes thoughtful, often insightful, and always mercurial Adam.  The ladies at Grantland recently had a virtual roundtable in an attempt to grasp the meaning behind his eccentricity, though they seem to be as confounded by him afterwards as they were before, suggesting a "beauty in the eye of the beholder" mentality. And, whether intended or not, Girls creater Lena Dunham admitted that, after several discussions with her peers, Adam's character has become a barometer to measure what kind of person you might be.  But in reading the various character studies imposed on Adam, I find him to be a bit misunderstood as both an individual and how he influences/affects Hannah's life.

Though we never get a true understanding of Adam's past, the snippets we do receive suggest scars of varying degrees covering an ever growing body that's difficult to harness (which stays true to Adam's actual physical lanky nature.)  While it's impossible to say what sort of demons he is hiding, we do know that he frequents AA, and also chooses theater as his odd form of therapy when dealing with his formative years.  He doesn't seem to leave his house often, we don't know too much about his social life, other than it doesn't seem to thrive, but he's found, at least, a path to some sort of inner peace (misguided or not) through his own myopic vision.  I do agree with those who say Adam is not unhappy. 

But whatever Adam's past, he's shoved himself into a small box of simplicity in an effort to cope, and doesn't quite understand when others don't do the same.  To him, love is simple and genuine; it doesn't need to be considered or intellectualized.  Following directions is simple; it's why he melted down when his co-actor unilaterally changed his play.  It's why he yells at cars; because he doesn't understand why people can't be considerate to others. He keeps himself in shape; why wouldn't you treat your only body as best as possible? But though Adam has boiled his life down to brass tacks, he's hardly co-opted a "zen" sensibility in which he goes with the flow.  There's anger there.  There's anger because he gets frustrated when people continuously fuck things up like there's some outside evil forcing them to do so. So, he lashes out at those that complicate the uncomplicated.  It's why we fear that he may hit Hannah at any moment, even though he's probably just a scared kitten underneath.

But it's his volatility that also makes his relationship with Hannah so interesting; he is a mentally unstable Holden Caulfield desperately attempting to save the life of a somewhat privileged white girl who embodies everything opposite to his beliefs.  Hannah is a smart, capable young woman.  She's a talented writer, and Adam finds her to be a beautiful girl.  Unlike Adam, who doesn't necessarily "go with the flow," but deals with the hand given, Hannah spends her time wallowing in insecurity, which is counter productive to anything worthwhile.  He sees Hannah as the girl she may eventually be, not the one skipping through her self-created minefield.  During their blowout in the finale, Adam doesn't explode on her because he's necessarily heartbroken over her decision not to take his thought to move in together seriously, he does so because he honestly doesn't realize how she can't embrace something both simple and beautiful.  While Hannah's mind resembles a whack a mole that's constantly being fed quarters, Adam's is a slow jog along the beach with his eyes closed, ready to instantly overreact to a beach chair that's been carelessly left in the way. 

Along this metaphor, Dunham's final shot of the season involved Hannah sitting on the Brooklyn beach, eating a piece of cake, overlooking the water, without her shoes or purse which had been stolen on the train while she slept.  It's a simple shot, a simple scene, and one that can't be interrupted by a cell phone ring or even a shouting pedestrian.  Perhaps she'll now take a step back and realize that not everything in life has to be complicated, but most of us spend a lifetime trying to grasp that one thing that seems so obvious. 


  1. In my opinion: he's the poor man's Justin Long.

    1. haha i find him to be a much more interesting Justin Long