GIRLS: How They Pay The Rent…Ramble

I just read a tweet about the season finale of HBO’s Girls:

Last night’s #GIRLS episode made me upset because most of us don’t have the luxury of being complete wastes of life. #HowDoTheyPayRent

Hmm, well Sarah, I used to get infuriated and still do from time to time about the suspension of disbelief entertainment wants us to accept. ‘Friends’ at least got away with the huge apartment being their grandmother’s rent controlled legacy, same supposedly with ‘Sex & The City’ although I loved the temporary financial crisis Carrie had when she realized she couldn’t afford to rent anything after she broke Aiden’s heart. The moment I really thought was New York reality was when she realized over she’d spent $40K on shoes. Seriously. Meanwhile she decided to rip up a check from Mr. Big to buy the apartment and instead go off and guilt the money from Charlotte, who’s biggest crime was she married and divorced well. Carrie Bradshaw was just as much, if not more, a narcissist as Girl’s Hannah Horvath.

As for money, we know on Girls Marni has now resolved that issue. It looks like she will follow in the steps of Charlotte and marry well in order to resolve her Madison Avenue tastes and her downward spiral after she lost her also Charlotte-like art gallery job. I think Marni’s downward spiral this season was pretty realistic. She moved in with college girl Shoshanna, who’s parents pay for her apartment as did Shosh’s older and shiftless boyfriend Ray. Poor Shosh didn’t even realize Ray had moved in with her. That living situation seems pretty realistic to me. 

Jessa’s living situation started off in one of the high-rises in Williamsburg. She was blissful, a newlywed wrapped up in the comfort of new love. One dinner with her new in-laws was all it took for her insecure husband played by the wonderful Chris O’Dowd (how awesome was he as Kristin Whig’s policeman love interest in Bridesmaids?) to throw out their marriage. While she didn’t even bother to suggest they take a moment, even a night to calm down and talk about it in the morning, Jessa took only a few seconds to be insulted about the suggestion of how much cash it would take for her to walk away from the marriage. They settled on ten grand. Ok, it’s not enough to live off for a long time off, but Jessa was certainly a) not paying for the rent/lease/mortgage in the high rise b) didn’t seem to be paying rent when she crashed with her cousin Shoshanna initially in season one and not with Hannah in season two c) she doesn’t seem to have an even temporary new address and is probably using that ten grand to fund her restless wandering. 

That would lead us to Hannah Horvatz. She initially shared her rent with Marni in the first season and then with her ex-boyfriend-now-gay-but-tried-to-have-sex-with-Marni, Elijah. Elijah’s rich boyfriend was paying his half of the rent. I’m not sure why those two wouldn’t just live together but stranger things have happened. After Elijah’s failed attempt at amore with Marni finally came to light during a cocaine fueled experience for an online magazine (supposedly Hannah got paid $200 for this- how much did that net after the price of the drugs and alcohol and then the dinner she made for her friends to celebrate it? Probably negative fifty bucks)- Hannah had to carry the rent on the two bedroom herself. 

Ah dear friends, this is where Hannah picked up some more shifts at Cafe Grumpy but still that doesn’t seem like it would cover it. So then enter the book advance! Hallelujah! Yes, Hannah is having a melt-down of epic self-sabotage and the threat of the publisher suing her is on the line, but that does explain how she pays her rent for the time being.

As for the guys, Marni’s ex is now a mobile app mogul. Ray as previously mentioned was living in his car and technically homeless thus he moved in with Shoshanna. That leaves Adam. I have never understood how Adam pays the rent. His apartment is full of nails and wood and random unfinished products that seem to reflect his internal mind. It was amusing when his new love interest said he wasn’t as dark as his apartment. Aw shucks lady, you should just call a car service back to Manhattan. 

There’s also the small matter that this show has been hugely controversial from the very first episode it showed a young girl in her twenties getting cut off from her parent’s supporting her. We all know those people. To her credit Hannah went out and got various jobs to pay her share. Hope that helps resolve the question of how those GIRLS pay their rent, or don’t.

As for ‘being complete wastes of life’- fair enough! These characters seem not to have a moral compass very often or be ambitious. This season even the Mary Poppins-like ‘Sex In The City’ diehard, Shosh, cheated on her boyfriend in a closet off the lobby of a friend’s building with the doorman.  Suspension of disbelief is what entertainment asks from the viewer. If you can’t then change the channel or read a book like Sheryl Sandberg’s forthcoming Lean In about how women need to lean in to challenges in the work place, step up and be leaders, negotiate for salary and help each other which can certainly help real women in real life pay the rent. 


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