The most recent episode of Girls got a lot of people talking. For one, it was an episode
solely devoted to Marnie, a character most fans hate. And then it dealt with infidelity. For those keeping score, Marnie married Desi and ever since her life has been pretty much meh. He’s super sensitive, a dreamer -not a doer- and just not who we, as fans, thought someone like Marnie, who is pretentious, privileged and selfish, to end up with. If you’ve been watching since the beginning like me, there was someone in Marnie’s life who even she thought she’d end up with: Charlie. And to the surprise of many viewers, he made a triumphant return to Girls on Sunday and swept Marnie off her feet. A notion that would have come in super handy by the episode’s end, but that’s besides the point.
The point is after getting into another fight with her hubby, Marnie stormed out looking like a Drake lyric (Sweatpants, hair-tied, no make up on) and who did she run into? Charlie. Sigh. If you had a dollar, right? The moment itself is so true to life. You always run into your ex after a spin class. Never after your amazing new haircut. It’s a classic “That’s happened to me IRL scenario!” But then Girls takes this super relatable moment and does what a lot of us probably wish would’ve happened: it gives Marnie and Charlie a do-over. It allows the rest of the episode to play out like a rom-com. They attend a lavish party. She wears a red dress he bought her. They reminisce about old times. Get answers to the questions that haunted them (and us) for two years. They take a romantic, yet super illegal ,boat ride in Central Park. Kiss under the stars. Fall overboard. And ultimately make plans to run away together; to turn their “what could have been” into their “maybe this could still be.”
Now as this is all unfolding, there are a million questions running through our heads as fans, and well, humans. Why is she forgiving Charlie so easily for what he did? Like most of us girls, she remembers every terrible thing he said and recites it back to him verbatim. We’re wondering how she isn’t realizing that he’s not the guy she once loved anymore? He has a fake name and sells and does drugs. Above all we’re yelling, “How is she just gonna go and cheat on her husband?!” As annoying as Desi is, a vow is a vow and it’s not like she forgot she was married. It’s the first thing she said to Charlie. And even if she was caught up in the moment, she literally got her ring stolen. That should have served as her reminder. It should not have been seen as an omen to take things even further. But even amid all of these questions, one important one worked it’s way to the top: why am I not as mad about this as I should be?
I feel like I should preface this by saying I don’t condone cheating. I think people who do it are cowards. I get you could be unhappy, but cheating is taking the easy way out. Have the hard conversation. Make the difficult decision. But with that said, I think her decision to cheat was needed. For someone as sheltered and self-absorbed as Marnie, she doesn’t ever really take the time to think about what she needs. She has no problem going after what she wants (Sup, _____), but what she actually needs to grow? She never even gives it pause. So, there she is with Charlie and for the first time in the series you can see her flip the switch. You see her decide not to think. The irony is that by not thinking, she gets her biggest realization ever: she’s really fucked up. Cue us fans saying, “Yes we knew that already” and sure, we as viewers did. But, Marnie? She didn’t. Crossing that line with Charlie forced her to acknowledge it. It made it real. It made her realize she has a problem. Should she have just ended things with Desi at the beginning of the episode? Absolutely. But that would have made for a really boring half hour of TV and IMHO, not allowed for her character to grow.
Sure the writers could have found a way for her to grow that didn’t involve her cheating. But by bringing back the love of her life, the writers provided her with a mirror that showed her both her past and future simultaneously. More importantly, for the first time in five years, it forced her to actually face her reflection and confront who she is. It forced her to ask, “Is this the person I want to be?” It’s a question I hope the writers continue to explore because for once I’m actually interested to see where Marnie is going to go. I actually want to know what’s next for her. I’m interested to find out if like the season’s tagline says, she’s gonna be able to “piece it all together.”