January 12th, 2013  (1)
A Woman’s Take on HBO Girls: Episode 10 Revisited
Posted by Khiem in: Articles, Product Reviews

Who’s excited for HBO Girls Season 2 starting this Sunday?

I am!

And in preparation of watching the new season, it’s time to publish Thuy’s take on last season’s finale.


I know that Khiem hated this episode the most.  As a writer though, I totally relished in that jaw-dropping, shocker twist.  I know it seems totally implausible that they’d wind up together, especially after I watched the attempted “threesome” scene again.

As an audience, I did feel cheated in that I didn’t see the emotional turn in Jessa.  But I guess that IS the magic of Hollywood to create that dramatic opener.

Drama is the theme of Jessa’s life.  I don’t agree with Evan’s mom in that Jessa chose the successful guy to maintain her bohemian lifestyle.  What I do agree with is that it all started with her talk with the “mom”.

Jessa creates the drama in her life as a way of compensating for the void in her life.  The excitement is replacing the lack of happiness she feels.  She had always jumped from guy to guy – being unpredictable, feeling the thrill of the conquest, and experiencing the extreme highs and lows.

However, she never really slowed down to create a true emotional connection with another human being.  What she felt in the past was akin to being under the influence of drugs.  She never felt a real, natural high.  She never felt real love because she was manipulating everything.

The talk with the “mom” gave her insight into herself and she finally saw the light.  For her to finally experience happiness, she let go of having power over someone for the first time.  She let go of her judgments.  She let go of allowing drama in her life.  She probably thought it was a grown up thing to finally commit to something and a safe bet to be with the successful guy.

But with her motivations half-misguided, we can only foreshadow that she may have just created more drama for herself.

Look into your life.  See where your actions are motivated from.  Are you just creating excitement to fill emptiness in your life?

Everything does seem flipped in this episode – from Shoshanna and Ray’s quirky exchange to Marnie’s hot kiss with the little fat boy.


I do get why Shoshanna asked:

Are you punking me?

Ray wasn’t just forward.  What he gave her was a backhanded compliment when he told her she was the strangest girl he ever met.

Should she have felt flattered?

I have never had a guy say that to me before… but I do wonder how it works on a girl.  It does put a girl on her toes.  It’s not a typical compliment like “You have beautiful eyes” or “You’re so sexy” (which at times are actually pretty generic and boring, when said too often or ingenuinely).

Please don’t misunderstand me though.  I would never tell guys to stop giving those compliments altogether.  When you are in a relationship, girls love to hear that you still feel they are attractive.  However, when you just meet them for the first time, compliments given too fast or too early just sound like cheap pick-up lines.

What is great about Ray is that he is not putting Shoshanna on a pedestal.  He’s pointing out what could be seen as a flaw but he’s actually completely mesmerized by it!  With that intention, his backhanded compliment takes a different meaning… which is what women love:  to know that someone recognizes what is truly unique and real about her.

I had a guy once give me a compliment about my freckles.  Had I been red- headed, that would have been a typical compliment… but I’m Asian!  Asians usually get:  “You have such nice, smooth, porcelain skin.”

That was the first time anyone had ever mentioned my freckles.  I was so flattered.  It showed me he really paid attention to the little details, to who I was… and that he noticed in me something that others hadn’t.

Marnie taking a soft spot for the little fat boy seemed like a man’s fantasy that Hollywood has portrayed far too often.  When is it going to be time for the hot dude to fall for the little fat girl?!!!

Protest aside, unlike Khiem and Evan, I can see it happening just for the same reason we sometimes see a hot chick walking down the street arm in arm with a geeky guy while wondering what does she see in him.  As unbelievable as it may sound, some attractive women like Marnie go for less attractive guys because:

  1. They are afraid hot guys will cheat on them.  Hot guys get constant attention and distraction from other hot girls. It gives the girlfriend a lot of reasons to be leery, jealous, and insecure.
  2. To a certain degree (I say this because even I have a limit to how much of a blind eye I’ll give to a man’s looks), women put less weight on sheer physical beauty than men do and more weight on the emotional connection.
  3. If she dates a guy who is not as attractive as she is, he will treat her better.  He is more likely to be faithful and more willing to keep her happy.  Research has very much shown that. Read this article:  Dating Down: Why Less Attractive Men Make Better Mates.

The only caveat to this idyllic fantasy is that Marnie once again has found a boy who might put her on a pedestal… just like Charlie!

Now, the biggest flip in this episode is Hannah and Adam.  Typically, it’s the girl who pressures the guy to move in and the guy gets cold feet about it.  Here, the roles are reversed.

I’ve had similar experiences on both spectrums, strangely with the same guy.  After about five months of dating, my then boyfriend said that we should start thinking about moving in the direction of marriage.  I was surprised!  We hadn’t even said our “I love you’s” yet!

I gave him some of the same excuses that Hannah did, like I had so many bills to pay off and I had to focus on my career.  Although I thought his talk of marriage was premature, I did admire how much faith he had in our relationship at that moment.

Adam had that pure faith but Hannah did not believe in herself.  She was afraid that she was going to screw things up.  When I gave my boyfriend the career excuse, he gave me the same response as Adam did:

That’s why we have each other to support.

I didn’t buy it.  I grew up underprivileged.  I didn’t want to start a marriage in financial strife and to have my children lacking what they need.  In retrospect though, he did have a point.  Wouldn’t you want someone to be there for you as your cheerleader through your struggles?  If they have stuck with you through the challenging times in your life, then wasn’t the relationship more likely to last in the long run?

If you wait for things to line up perfectly before you take that plunge, it may never happen.

I realize now that it is sometimes prudent to take things slow and not move a relationship too fast.  Yet you have to ask yourself what is holding you back?


Procrastination is rooted in fear and Hannah was paralyzed with fear.  She didn’t say it out loud but I’m sure she was jumping ahead into the thought of what living together could lead to – responsibility, marriage, and family – all the things that she wasn’t ready to have, all the things that meant she was going to be accountable to someone.

You don’t necessarily have to think that far ahead when you make the decision to move in with someone. (I know I’m going to get girls hating on me for saying that.)  Years ago, I went to Belgium to visit my great uncle.  His son just started dating a girl.  She moved in to live with him and his family just a couple weeks after they had started dating!  It sounds totally radical to us Americans but it turns out it is commonplace to do in Europe.  It’s their way of figuring out if they are compatible with each other.

What a novel idea?!  Why spend such an expanse of time meeting just a couple times a week over a period of a couple years when you can just cut through the chase and figure it out in a couple months?  Making that next step in a relationship may be a scary thing but you will waste less time in figuring out if he or she is the right one for you.

Speaking of the right guy, in every podcast Khiem and Evan complain about how there are no strong men in this show.

Admittedly, I would like to see a male version of Jessa.  Ray is probably the closest character to Jessa but he doesn’t draw in the women like how Jessa does men.  The only time that I can foresee a strong man appearing in the show is if he is a guest character who plays the “straight shooting man” that calls out on these girls or that briefly acts as a romantic mentor to one of them.

Otherwise, how can there be a strong man in the show when there are no strong women?  Each one of the women on the show is so flawed. They’re still figuring themselves out.  None of them have a clear direction of where they are going or who they are.  The fact of the matter is you attract people who are in the same place as you are in your life.

… I can’t wait for next season to see what other guys the Girls will attract!

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    December 10th, 2012  (0)
A Woman’s Take on HBO Girls: Episode 9 Revisited
Posted by Khiem in: Advice, Articles

HBO Girls Season 2 will start soon in January.  I’m super excited!

And with that in mind, I am continuing my “Girl’s Commentary on HBO Girls” series of blogs, written by the very talented Thuy.

I have to say… I was very moved by Thuy’s writing.  In this piece, she shares a bit more of her family history with you and relates not only to the characters in the TV show but also to the original podcast commentary I made about episode 9 in regards to mending and healing your family relationships.

Without giving too much away, Thuy, take it away!


Out of all the episodes, this is the one that I relate to the most.

As a writer like Hannah, sometimes I get caught up on making unfair comparisons too because it is so subjective.  On top of that, I also get the double whammy of being a girl and being Asian!  Not only do I get comparisons about my looks but also my grades, career, and financial status.

When you compare yourself to others, you easily fall into the trap of trying to do what you think other people will like.  I almost made the same mistake Hannah did when I had to do a TV pilot pitch in front of some network executives and agents.  There were twelve of us and I was the last one to go up.

I saw how some of the other writers threw on a lot of bells and whistles in their pitch and how some fell flat on their face.  I felt intimidated because I had nothing but myself and a couple note cards.

I stuck to my guns though.  I had to be true to myself.  I can’t pretend to be anyone else.

And… It worked!

The executives unanimously said that it was a great pitch and fellow writers came up to congratulate me.  The executives said that what sells is your passion and what is unique and personal to you.  You don’t need anything else.

Adam gave Hannah the best advice when he said:

Focus on being yourself.

Instead, she went into self-doubt when Ray told her that she needed to write about more important stuff like death and disease.  She listened to him and it backfired.  It wasn’t her.

The saying goes, “Write what you know.”

You could say the same applies in social settings, “Talk what you know”.

If it’s not, your confidence won’t shine and people can see right through that you’re not genuine.

“Why didn’t you read the story about the hoarder?  It was hilarious!,” her professor asked.

Hannah said, “I didn’t because it was trivial… and now I feel trivial.”

This happens to women in social circles too.

When asked about their profession, I hear this kind of response over and over again, “… oh it’s nothing… it’s boring.”  I say that to a guy when I want the conversation to cut short!

Whatever you have to say is not trivial.  Don’t ever belittle yourself or what you do.  As long as you speak with conviction and passion about something that is personal and relatable, you will capture your audience.

Passion is an infectious feeling.  Not so many people are as fortunate as Evan to have such great parents to make them feel not trivial.  Like Khiem said, you do need to heal your relationship with your parents for your personal relationships to become better.

Not enough people see that correlation.  Girls have it worse than boys when it comes to receiving wrong messages about sex, dating, and body image.

When I was in my teens, my mom would tell me that I was average-looking and that I would never get a doctor husband because of that.  Years later, I found out that she had been in love with a doctor but he wound up having a relationship with a model/actress instead!

I realized that it was my mom’s own self-perception and beliefs that she was projecting onto me.  She also told me that marriage would just lead to grief and pain but that’s because her relationship with my dad failed.

Sometimes when parents criticize you, it’s really because they see in you what they don’t like about themselves.

If I hadn’t surrounded myself with people who have healthy relationships and made them my role models, I would have held the same perception as my mom did.

I told a friend of mine how I kept getting into relationships with unavailable guys and how I had sought to end the cycle.

She told me:

Sorry but I think the reality is that every guy is unavailable. They’re either unavailable or dicks…or the (hypocritical) nice dick!

I beg to disagree.  I have a few married male friends and I have met their wives.  I hear stories about how they met and how highly they think of each other.  It gives me hope.

It takes a lot of work and sticking together through thick and thin to get to their level of happiness.

However, it is possible.

The reason you seek a partner who was unavailable is because you had at least one physically or emotionally unavailable parent.  You are subconsciously recreating that relationship in your adulthood so that you can relive it and heal those wounds this time around.  Unfortunately, they usually don’t heal and that’s why you keep getting into the same type of relationships.

In my case, my mom and dad separated when I was about two and a half years old and he passed away when I was twelve.  I never saw him after he and my mom parted ways.  How do you reconcile a relationship with your parents when they aren’t even around anymore?

I reconnected with my dad’s side of the family – all my aunts and uncles, and my half-siblings.  I learned more about my dad’s history.  I even learned that we both have a love of writing – he used to write poetry.

My mom told me that it was mutual that they split up.  When I was eighteen, I discovered that he had written a letter to me about six months after the split but he never mailed it out.  It was a letter about how much he loved and missed me.  It didn’t quite match up in my mind though. If he missed me so much, then why didn’t he fight to keep me?

Those answers were revealed when I met my aunt in Vancouver, my dad’s younger sister, for the first time.  She was amazed at my resemblance- both physically and personality-wise.  There was no doubt that I was his daughter.  She opened up about how he loved both my mom and me so much.

My mom was the one who had left him.

He didn’t want to let your mom go.  She was the love of his life.  He was a hopeless romantic.  He went searching for the both of you for two years but your mom left no clues.  He fell into a deep depression.  He couldn’t sleep.  He couldn’t eat…

That’s when it shifted for me.  I wasn’t the abandoned child.  He really did fight for me.

My perception of my romantic relationships shifted then too.  I used to feel overwhelming sadness when my boyfriend was being unavailable.

After that talk with my aunt, another incident happened when he was unavailable yet again.  Instead of feeling sadness that time around, I felt pissed and fed up!  I felt that I deserved better.

At that moment, I realized that I had grown and healed.

I didn’t need to be in the relationship anymore.

On the other hand, sometimes guys can try too hard to be there for you.  Guys always feel the need to fix things.  Most women don’t need that.

Khiem is right.  We want to be heard.  It’s a way for us to process our thoughts and feelings and to have an emotional connection with our guy.  Guys struggle with that because fixing things is their way of showing that they care and to feel valued.

My ex had the hardest time with that.  I literally had to train him for months to stop the urge to fix things for me.  He felt like he was doing nothing when he just listened.

He asked, “How am I supposed to respond then?”

I said, “You can say – yeah, that guy was a total jerk… or I can see how you’re so frustrated.  That sucks!”

Guys want to feel appreciated just as much as we women do.  At the end of the conversation, I would usually tell him, “Thank you. I feel a lot better now after talking to you. It made a difference.”

Then maybe the next day, I would tell him how I came up with a solution and my talk with him helped me sort through my thoughts.  It made him feel good that he was involved in the process.  He felt he was adding value.  He finally got it!

Add some value to your life by putting yourself out there.  Reconnect with your parents.  Learn to be true to yourself.  Express your passions.  Take some risks.  Take a chance on life.  Then, take a chance on love.


If you’ve enjoyed the blog, post a comment!  I will be posting Thuy’s take on the final episode soon (aka before the end of the year).

In the meantime, if you have dating situations you want to talk about, email me.

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    October 18th, 2012  (0)
A Woman’s Take on HBO Girls: Episode 8 Revisited
Posted by Khiem in: Advice, Articles

Today is a continuation of my friend Thuy’s series of blogs on HBO Girls.

She writes with such great insights, I’m still smiling thinking about it… and for you lucky reader, you’ll learn how she almost lost her virginity.

But before you read her blog, if you haven’t watched it yet, go watch HBO Girls!  HBO Girls has been the most surprising TV hit show this last season.  I posted an audio commentary to this episode here.

I guarantee you.  A lot of people in their 20s and 30s will relate not only to the romantic struggles these girls living in New York face, but also to their insecurities and random adventures in life.

Without further ado, enjoy Thuy’s take on HBO Girls episode 8 “Weirdos Need Girlfriends Too.”


Finally! Hannah’s hopes come true and Adam becomes the boyfriend.

I went through a roller coaster of emotions, sometimes with feelings of uncertainty through the eyes of Hannah.

Let’s face it.  We don’t know a whole lot about Adam.  Hannah fell for him before she even really knew him.

She was floored to know that he was in AA from the last episode!  A lot of women make this mistake.  In the beginning of the courtship, they don’t really fall for whom the guy really is. They fall for the image or fantasy that they have created about him.

I hear this over and over again from my girlfriends.  At first, he’s the perfect guy who does everything right.  Then they get disillusioned and discover he’s an asshole.

Sex does a funny thing to women.  It creates that bonding hormone called Oxytocin.  It makes them feel as though they are in love, when it is in fact their pussy that is creating that funny feeling inside!

At first glance, he is the perfect boyfriend.

He even demonstrates “good boyfriend” characteristics when he tells Hannah not to minimize Marnie’s feelings about her breakup and gives her some sage advice to “do what makes you feel good”.

Then we watch Adam share an important part of his life with Hannah- his acting and writing.

Like Khiem said, dating is all about sharing.  It brings the two people closer together.  You can tell that Hannah felt special for having this window into his passion.

You can see that she was falling deeper in love with him during the tech rehearsal.  That was also the time when she started getting a wake up call though.

Does he have a brilliant mind or is he off his rocker?  He snaps at his theater partner and then unreasonably quits just two weeks before the show.

Then he screams and curses like a mad man at the driver on the street.  Does he have anger management issues too?  It totally rattles Hannah so much that she is not in the mood to have sex with him when they get home.

Khiem and Evan played down the scene where Adam pees on Hannah in the shower.

I tried to get into Hannah’s head…  It wasn’t too long ago that she just discovered that he was in AA. Then she sees a whole side of him that she’s never seen before.

She really doesn’t know this guy!  She is not just freaked out that he peed on her.  She’s freaked out that he might be psycho!!

He just jumped behind her in the shower, had this creepy look on his face that got her screaming, and then he gave this menacing laugh as he was peeing on her.

You can interpret his action in different ways:

  1. Urine is waste matter.  It could be seen as an action of demeaning another person.
  2. He might have a weird fetish.  Think about it.
    In the very first episode, he gives her anal sex without even explicitly asking for her permission.  There are some things, like kissing, that guys shouldn’t ask for permission.
    But when it comes to testing boundaries like that though, the girl has to feel safe with you and know that you are respecting her.
    Every girl has different boundaries so you have to know when and how far to push it.  Ease into it.  Thus far, she had felt safe with him with everything they’ve done together even if it was uncomfortable at first.  Now, he’s giving her the golden shower.
    She is screaming that she doesn’t like it and he’s not stopping his flow!  He pushed her too far.  What other freaky things is he into and will she still feel safe around him??
  3. He just has a weird sense of humor that only people close to him can somewhat comprehend and Hannah doesn’t know him well enough to “appreciate” it.

This is also another mistake that women tend to do.

They take their minds so far beyond what is happening that it’s not all set in the truth anymore.

Classic example would be after a woman gives her number out to a guy.

It’s been three days. Why hasn’t he called me?… He was talking to other girls that night. Maybe he asked them out instead…  He only texted me. Maybe he’s just into a one-night stand…

Women waste so much mental energy and anguish when they should let it be and let the truth be revealed.  Luckily, Hannah doesn’t blow it out of proportion.  She gets grounded back to reality.  She breathes again.

Then a really beautiful moment happens…

She begins to listen to him and sees him for who he really is.

It’s a wonderful moment that shows how communication in a healthy relationship should be.  Hannah recognizes something in him that Adam doesn’t see.

He maintains his ideals but still listens and acknowledges her input.  He doesn’t become defensive or stonewall her.  He evaluates what she says and realizes she has something there.

They both have a moment of growth.  An experience of true bonding happens and you begin to see there could be longevity in this relationship.

On the flip side, Marnie’s long-term relationship just ended.

I almost felt that Khiem made a pretty shallow observation when he said, “Is there really any reason for her grieving?”

She may be the hotter of the two.  She may be the one who dumped him but even a dumper mourns for the loss of the relationship because deep down inside there’s a part of them that wish it could have worked out and they could stay in love.

I can really relate to Marnie’s anguish.  I didn’t quite cry over my “Charlie’s” Facebook pictures.

I was just looking at his wedding pictures.  I discovered about my ex ‘s wedding just three days before the big day!

Just a little over a year and half after our breakup, here he was getting married whereas I had barely started dating again.  Like Marnie sobbing how it could have been Charlie and her in that picture, I felt a tinge of sadness at how it could have been us walking down the aisle.

I know it sounds cheesy but we had to break up for him to grow and to become the man who is capable of being the loving husband today.

Moments like these force you to reflect.  It takes two to make a relationship.  It takes two to have a breakup.

If you stop fully blaming the other person and take some responsibility for what happened, you will learn more about yourself and grow.

Sometime after our relationship ended, my ex and I talked. (I know that’s a novel idea.)

I told him that he was everything that I had asked for but he failed to believe in himself, which cost our relationship.

He said:

No. You wanted more.

Those words stayed with me because in retrospect, it was true.

You realize what you tolerated in the relationship is now a deal breaker for you.  It’s important to know yourself well so that you can know what you want in a man.

What qualities that you want in a man, you better have those same qualities yourself.

It seems like Marnie and I got the crap deal.

Charlie went with the girl to Rome. My ex wound up being someone else’s husband.  He found love before I did.

Logically, you would think the dumper would move on before the dumpee but that is not always the case.

Do I believe that I had wasted the last year and a half of my life?  Of course not!

I spent that time focusing on my career goals, doing everything that I had always wanted to do, and challenging myself to realize my fullest potential.  That is actually time spent towards “developing” a relationship.

When you are raising the bar for yourself, you are raising the bar for your future partner.

So many women have the fear of being alone and stress about not finding love again.  Men and women alike think they need to be in a relationship to be happy.

However, to depend on the other person to make you happy puts too much pressure in a relationship.

If you rely on them to make you happy, how can they rely on you to be happy?  That is not a stable foundation.

You need to fill that void yourself.  Only when you are a complete person and can be happy on your own, can you have a complete and happy relationship.

Now, I’m not going to indulge in how to make a threesome work.  I think Khiem and Evan went extensive enough on how to get in on the action. 😛

I will talk instead about the guy who tried too hard.

Back in the day, I was making out with this guy in my college dorm room.  There were some moments when I giggled.  He got defensive and asked, “Are you laughing at me??”

He had this image in his mind from movies he’s seen that sex is supposed to be intense and serious.  It didn’t quite go that way and he took it personally.

Things didn’t go according to plan for the successful guy with Marnie and Jessa and he blasted out on them. If you set this expectation of how things will go with the other person, or persons for that matter, you set yourself up for frustration.

Let go.  Resist having to control everything.  Why can’t sex be lighthearted and fun?

I was a virgin.  He was not.  I expressed to him that I wasn’t ready.  He decided then to give me a “sample” of what it feels like…

He dry humped me like a jack hammer through my jeans, asked me how it was, then pushed me for sex.

I told him I wanted to wait until after marriage. (I was totally lying.)  If the dry humping was the preview of what sex with him was going to be like, I did not want to take part in it.  I did not want my first time to be that horrible.

He just tried too hard.  So please, don’t feel compelled to prove anything.  Take it easy.  Just enjoy each other’s company and the momentum will build up.

In this battle between the successful guy and Adam, I’d say Adam wins in this episode.

Adam acknowledges his mistakes and takes ownership of them.  He makes a very heartfelt and romantic apology to Hannah.

She learns to let go of her preconceived notions of what a relationship should be.

Adam may not be the perfect guy but he is perfect for her.


Wow, that was a lot to take in, wasn’t it?

This is why I love Thuy’s blogs.  She shares her thoughts with such candor that you can’t help but take some time to reflect on your own love life.

So here’s a little question for you.  What did you enjoy about HBO Girls episode 8.  Have you had experiences that relates to what Hannah and Marnie just went through?  Share your thoughts below.

And if you want my or Thuy’s opinion on your current dating situation, shoot me an email!


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