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In Season 3, Hannah is now in a committed relationship with Adam (Adam Driver), and the two are settling into a newfound domesticity in Hannah's apartment. Hannah is also working on rehabilitating her writing career and concentrating on delivering her eBook to her eccentric publisher. Meanwhile, Marnie (Allison Williams) is adjusting to life after a sudden and traumatic breakup with Charlie and meticulously working to achieve the life she feels she deserves. Nearing graduation, newly single Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet) masterminds a plan to create a healthy (at least on paper) balance between partying and her studies. And, continuing her streak of disrupting the lives of those around her, Jessa (Jemima Kirke) resurfaces and strikes up an ambiguous friendship with a flamboyant father figure. (From the HBO synopsis)

 Girls: The Complete Third Season
I always find it hard to write about entire seasons of a television show. Getting too specific about my likes and dislikes across twelve episodes of anything becomes tedious, and writing too broadly about the season just isn't satisfying. I'm going to steal the format Gabe Powers used for his review of Boardwalk Empire's third season by breaking down some thoughts on each main character. Some spoilers may follow:

Hannah Horvath (Lena Dunham)
Our central character is happily in a relationship with Adam, and after some rocky business with her book she starts a job working for the advertorial department of GQ. Sounds like a good gig, but with Hannah being Hannah she questions whether or not she has sold out by taking a corporate position and wonders if she'll ever be able to fully pursue her passion as an author. There is an episode where Hannah returns home to visit her sick grandmother. I like these "capsule episodes", but usually they are just for Hannah. I would like to see something like this for other characters in the future. Not a lot of growth for her character this season. Relationship issues and career issues are nothing new to this character, but big news at the end of the season suggests we may be seeing changes in Hannah's life soon.

Marnie Michaels (Allison Williams)
At the end of season two we saw Marnie reunite with Charlie, but it was widely reported that actor Christopher Abott had left the show, so there was no Charlie for season three. Dunham made the smart choice of just having the characters be broken up again at the start of season three. Their relationship was already so on and off that it doesn't feel false. Marnie's arc in season three feels a bit aimless. As usual, she is seeking validation through relationships. This leads to an unlikely romantic entanglement with Ray that is well utilized for charm and humor. We also get to see more of Marnie's development as a singer when she meets a handsome songwriter/actor. This season has been Marnie at her most despicable, just looking for trouble and not seeming to learn from mistakes of season's past.

 Girls: The Complete Third Season
Jessa Johansson (Jemima Kirke)
We last saw Jessa visiting her father in season two before vanishing without an explanation. In reality, actress Jemima Kirke was taking leave for her pregnancy. In season three we find Jessa in rehab for drug abuse. Here she develops a friendship with the eccentric Jasper (an awesome Richard E. Grant). She gets kicked out of rehab and into the mix with the rest of the cast before long. For a while her story seems to be whether or not she will relapse into her old lifestyle. Her story this season is best when she is sharing scenes with Jasper, and the culmination of their subplot is one of the season's best scenes. The end of the season takes Jessa into a different and more interesting direction involving an employer who asks her for something unthinkable, but it feels very unexplored happening so late in the season. I hope we see more of their interactions in season four.

Shoshanna Shapiro (Zosia Mamet)
"Shosh" has never been my favorite character. It is no fault of Zosia Mamet's, but more of a writing issue. She has always felt like a broad caricature compared to the rest of the main cast, but this season makes the best use so far. For starters. it mixers her with other characters well. Trapping Adam in a car with her on a road trip turns out to be a good recipe for humor. We also get to see what a mean, brutally honest drunk she can be. Shoshanna goes through some rough stuff near the end of the season, and it is the first time I've felt sympathy for the character.

 Girls: The Complete Third Season
Adam Sackler (Adam Driver)
Being in a relationship with Hannah means season three has a lot more Adam in it, and that's good news. Adam Driver's performance as the incredibly odd and explosive Adam Sackler has been a consistent highlight of the show, and his scenes with Hannah are also her best scenes. Adam gets a part in a Broadway show this season and decides to take it very seriously, which leads to some relationship drama between him and Hannah. We also get to see some of Adam's family this season when his crazy sister (Gabby Hoffman) shows up in need of help.

Ray Ploshansky (Alex Karpovsky)
As we've seen in previous seasons, Ray can be a real judgemental jerk when he wants, but this season shows him trying to be an adult as he takes over management of the coffee shop. Early this season Ray seems quietly devastated by how things ended with Shoshanna in season two. He ends up in a hushed relationship with Marnie, much to the surprise of both parties. This complicates things cause Ray wants a real relationship, not the game Marnie is playing to validate herself. I love Ray cause he has more self respect than any other character on the show right now, and I love that he lists owning a cactus plant among his accomplishments. We don't get to see as much of him as I'd like this season, but I like the direction things are heading with him.

 Girls: The Complete Third Season

Video


HBO remains a consistent and reliable provider of high quality Blu-ray releases. This season of Girls looks as good as any other. The show has always been a bit plain visually. It goes for a realistic feel. The lighting is never brilliant and the colors are fairly muted. That isn't to say it's a bad looking show.  It looks very sharp and well produced, it just doesn't make for the an exciting visual experience. The show is shot on the Arri Alexa digital camera system, so detail is incredibly strong. Compression artefacts aren't an issue either, even with all the extras crammed onto these discs. This is a quality release, even if the material isn't inherently eye-popping.

Audio


The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 tracks that accompany every episode are top notch. Despite being a show centered around character interactions, this mix stays fairly lively. The cast spends a lot of time in clubs and bars and the surround channels go a long way to make those environments convincing with a flurry of activity. This season has some musical performances which sound especially dynamic and crisp. Whether it be a stage performance or the gang learning an interpretive dance set to Harry Nilsson, the music really livens the room and utilizes the surround setup. Dialogue is very easy to make out. A show like this only needs a modest sound mix but this one goes beyond expectations.

 Girls: The Complete Third Season

Extras


Every episode comes with a short Inside the Episode featurette that is roughly 3-4 minutes in length. These feature interview footage with Dunham briefly going over stuff in the episode. There are also Audio Commentary tracks for the following episodes: Truth or Dare, Beach House, Flo, Role Play, I Saw You, Two Plane Rides. Every episode also comes with Deleted and Extended Scenes (01:01:59) attached. I counted forty-six between the two discs, totaling in over an hour of extra footage. Lutheran Healthcare Honors Lena(04:47) starts off like a fluff piece about a hospital in Brooklyn that has honored Lena Dunham, but after a minute or so it turns into a joke about how Lena Dunham is a tyrant on set with interview footage of her co-stars breaking down into tears talking about how mean she is.

On disc two we have Gag Reel Part 1 (07:44) and Gag Reel Part 2 (06:35). Then there is the less frivolous The Making of Girls (18:36) which covers all things behind-the-scenes. There's plenty of good interview footage with the cast. Dunham talks about some challenges she faced this season, like filming in a moving car. A lot of this ties into the same interview footage from the individual episode featurettes. You watch the embarrassing Marnie Michaels "What I Am" (02:40) uninterrupted and in HD, or the full stage performance for Marnie and Desi "Bet on Me" (02:28). Last of all is Lil Freckles "Dancin' on the D" (01:47) which is a full version of a performance we see briefly in the season's penultimate episode.

 Girls: The Complete Third Season

Overall


Girls is a coming-of-age story and we should see the main characters run into hurdles on their way to maturity, but I still can't help but feel disappointed in how little these characters grow from season to season. Even so, I find this show very watchable even when the characters are frustrating to tag along with. It looks like a lot of plots are heading in more interesting directions for season four, so I remain optimistic. This Blu-ray release from HBO has their stamp of quality on the AV front and a solid collection of extras to peruse.

* Note: The above images are taken from the Blu-ray and resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer.


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