Wearing house underwear under a bandage harness, for starters.
HBO's Girls, already a formidable contender for television's most awkward and nakedest sex scenes, upped the ante last night with one horrific, cringeworthy, and unforgettable role-playing scene. Donning a platinum wig and a breathy voice, Hannah Horvath hoped to stop feeling like an "ottoman with a vagina" and bring back the excitement to her sex life with Adam. The only problem with her hasty sojourn into the world of fantasy role-playing? Everything, right down to the house underwear creeping out beneath her bandage body harness.
I think we can all agree that absolutely nobody should model their life after walking cautionary tale Hannah Horvath, but just so you don't fall prey to a Girls role-playing scheme, (and so you too are not dumped while naked in your ex-best friend's cookie-smelling apartment), we've put together the five cardinal sins of role-playing Hannah regrettably made.
1. Both Partners Did Not Consent
"Eat before because it's more like a drink thing," does not a forewarning make. Hannah's biggest mistake was she didn't tell Adam what she was doing before she put on a wig more befitting of mid-cancer Samantha on Sex and the City. Sure, surprise can be sort of exhilarating when it comes to role-playing, but not when your partner isn't at all game for it. "The fuck?" Adam asks rightfully when Hannah shows up to the Globe bar in a completely unagreed upon character. In order for both partners to enjoy a true role-play, they both need to know it's happening.
2. No Safe Word
When a helpful bystander spots Adam (who is role-playing) violently grabbing Hannah's breasts in the middle of the sidewalk, he asks if everything is all right. Hannah eggs Adam on, screaming that her husband will be so upset with him. The bystander, because he is a normal human being having a normal human reaction to a stressful situation, punches Adam in the face. Hannah comes off as a terrible human being for not knowing when to break character and stop her boyfriend from being publicly attacked. What could have prevented this? A safe word. All role-playing needs one to ensure both partners are comfortable with the situation at hand, regardless if you're playing secretary and boss or going full BDSM.
3. Changing the Storyline Mid-Way Through
Changing from a hedge-funder's bored housewife to a popular cheerleader mid-thrust, Hannah committed the cardinal sin of switching up the narrative during role-playing. The most successful roleplaying storylines are those that are uncomplicated, familiar, and known mutual turn-ons. Adam calls her out for it. Unfortunately for Hannah, being a non-committal neurotic doesn't really do her any favors here. When it comes to role-playing, stick to the script. Especially when someone is about to come.
4. Relying Too Much on Props
The heinous wig. The chocolate syrup. The whole fruit eating. The use of Marnie's apartment as a sex den. The insane bandage harness and granny panties combo (obviously being played for laughs, but come on!). If the old Adam used to get off at the mere mention that Hannah was a adult-headed woman with a baby's body, then he probably didn't need all the bells and whistles of elaborate costuming and props. Hannah, probably out of nerves, made the rookie mistake of leaning too heavily on her props instead of actually having an adult conversation about what her partner's fantasies are. If you've done your homework and developed your fantasy, you can probably leave the Fifth Element harness at home.
5. Using Role-Playing as a Band-Aid for a Relationship's Deeper Problems
Using role-playing to spice things up? Sure. Enacting a fantasy that your partner has expressed previously in the bedroom? Of course. But planning a revamp of your lagging relationship with one wigged-out night? Misguided. Hannah forgot that sexual preferences, like a person, can easily change. "I was just trying to do it the way we used to, the way sex always was for us," Hannah tells Adam after he calls an end to the role-playing. "You have an old idea of who I am," he admits to her.
That's because escaping a relationship for a fantasy for one evening won't solve the greater, systemic problems of a failing relationship. When Hannah's role-play flops terribly, Adam tells her, "You can't have just part. You have to take the whole thing or nothing." What he means on the surface is a hedge-funder's housewife can't suddenly become head cheerleader with no prior discussion of the fantasy, but it's a greater statement on accepting all parts of your relationship, not just the good parts. Role-playing, while a recommended and exciting part of human sexuality, can't solve your problems overnight — and probably shouldn't.
Image via HBO.