What I Want Every Guy to Learn About Love From Ray on 'Girls'

Ray on GirlsWith season five of HBO's Girls two episodes in, the focus has been on Marnie's wedding, the strangeness between Adam and Jessa, and Hannah's gay dad. But we need to pay attention to Ray, the character Alex Karpovsky plays to perfection. He has a lot to teach us about love -- actually, a lot to teach men.


In the midst of all the chaos surrounding Marnie's wedding in the premiere episode "Wedding Day," there is Ray, the calm (in comparison), the wise, the thoughtful, the heartbroken, the enlightened. Karpovsky's lines are so spot-on along with his delivery that they transcend film. Ray has something to offer to us in real life, advice and words that we need to heed. 

Ray can teach us about love; he can teach men something vital. While talking to Fran (Jake Lacy) about his intentions with Hannah (Lena Dunham), someone he sees as almost a sister to him, he said: "Do you ask her how she feels about things, what she's thinking about, what are her opinions about transgender politics, the afterlife? Because young men today ... they don't ask those type of questions. They only ask what they can get from the given situation. They demand faithfulness, and then they suck the spirit out of women who are so f***ing spirited."

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I have fallen victim to these spirit vampires, those who somehow manage to silence the fire within. It happens slowly, over time. Little by little we do this or that for love -- and before we know it we no longer recognize ourselves. Maybe we are already wounded from issues with our fathers or a controlling high school boyfriend. We feel so understood when getting declarations of love and acceptance. But then it happens. The changes. So slight, so slow, that we don't even realize they are happening. Ray isn't that guy -- he's the guy who loves the whole you, even your warped mind, your baggage, your strange collections, and all the other seemingly undesirable parts of you that have been so f***ed up by spirit vampires.

It's not just "young men today"; it's older men, too. Men in NYC and guys in Middle America. Divorced men, and men also wounded so they wound in return. Ray wants them all to know that they can be more, different, better, real. That it's not just about the fact that your girlfriend let you inside her in the front seat of a car while wearing a bridesmaid's dress (yes, Hannah, that's you), but it's about what's inside her mind as well. Ray wants men to know that to kill the spirit of a woman even through slow suffocation will prove itself fatal to you both in the end. Relish that spirit; let her spirit thrive, feed it. In turn, you will know the best relationship you will ever know.

In that dialogue Ray is talking about Hannah, but it's also about Marnie (Allison Williams), too. It's about girls everywhere. Marnie is the love of his life, who was marrying Desi (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) that day. Desi -- the man who is sucking the spirit out of her. She concedes to him, to his situations, to his selfishness, and it's out of love. And she's just giving it away, little bits of herself at a time to fuel him, losing herself. Ray sees this happening, but he also sees that Marnie wants Desi, not him. And then it happens ... that moment of clarity.

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Ray witnesses Desi's cold feet, learns it's his eighth engagement, and sees very clearly that Desi isn't the guy Marnie wants -- he isn't the guy she thinks he is. But instead of going to her, Ray goes to talk to Desi ... in a pond, not meant for swimming, especially while in a suit. Going to her is classic movie stuff -- the ex tries to stop the wedding so he tells the girl that he loves her, tries to convince her not to get married. That's too easy here. Ray goes straight to the fire in an attempt to extinguish this in order to save Marnie's spirit.

Desi confides in him, saying he doesn't know how to be a husband, and Ray tells him: "You know what being a husband is about, Desi? It's about love, and love is about sacrifice and destiny and making a sacrifice for someone you love that allows them to find their destiny." The intention is for Desi to realize he isn't ready to be a husband, but that's lost on him. He thinks he's ready to be Marnie's husband, her destiny, and they all walk down the aisle.

Even Ray.

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This moment is painful to see depicted in a show because this is really what happens in real life all the time to many people. We think we are getting married for the right reasons, but some of us aren't. We think we aren't having our spirits sucked out of us, but some of us are. We think we aren't spiritual vampires, but there are the marks to prove otherwise.

Lena Dunham is the sole writer credited for this episode and the way she wrote Ray is brilliant. It's an honest look at relationships and how they can evolve or devolve, change us in ways that shouldn't be changed. While there is so much to see on this season of Girls, Ray is the character to watch carefully. His words are lessons to men and women and his altruistic ways give me hope that people will really take notice and change.


Image via HBO

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