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Why Everybody Loves Ray (From Girls)

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Courtesy of HBO
(Spoiler alert: Maybe don't read this if you haven't seen the final episode of Girls Season Five!)

Girls Season Five ended in a glorious double bill last night, and in those 60 minutes, one thing became oh-so-clear: that coffee shop owner and perpetual realist Ray Ploshansky (Alex Karpovsky) is the most desirable man in the show. And of course Shoshanna, Marnie and Hannah have fallen for him – because he’s the best. He’s everything you want in a man, and it’s just taken the Girls a mere five series to work that out.

If you’re one of the (many) Girls defectors – and let’s be honest, no-one would blame you after the horrendous debacle that was Season Four – here’s what happened. Shoshanna, freshly single and back from Japan, came back to Ray’s coffee shop to help him turn the business around. Was that love in her eyes when she offered her marketing skills for free? Yes it was. She knows he was the best thing to ever happen to her.

Hannah, again, newly single after a break up with “perfect” boyfriend Fran, tried to get it on with Ray out of sheer gratitude that he drove all the way out to upstate New York to rescue her from the side of the road. And last night, Marnie finally realised – through an orgasmic dream about er, brushing Ray’s hair – that he was The One (note the capital letters). And she actually told him. They’re in love!

The thing is: Ray’s always been the most attractive man in the show. It’s just the characters in the show were in the phase of their lives when they wouldn’t date him. Your early twenties are all about dating men like Adam – sure, they’re hot, but they’re short tempered, they’ve got issues, they’re emotionally closed off (something you write off as "mysterious") and they’re unreliable, both with actual events and showing up to places, and with personal hygiene.

But then you get a bit older… exactly like Hannah, Shosh and Marnie in Series Five. You hopefully get a job you’re not embarrassed to tell people about in the pub. An actual place to live where you can’t hear rats in the walls at night, or at least buy a telly loud enough to drown them out. You sort of… grow up.
Then, just like the characters in the show, you want to date Ray. Ray’s reliable, he’s sarcastic, he’s thoughtful, he’s responsible, he’s kind. When Adam stole the dog in Series Two, who went to Staten Island to return it? Ray. Who was assigned to look after Shoshanna when she accidentally smoked crack? Ray. Who told Desi he didn’t deserve Marnie, yet still jumped into a lake to rescue him on Marnie’s wedding day? Ray. Who has hired both Hannah and Elijah at his coffee shop, despite them both being the world’s worst employees? Ok, you get the idea.

Ray is a good man! He’s a nice, gentle person. He’d go with you to that birthday party you really don’t want to go to but can’t avoid, he’d remember that you like almond milk but hate soy milk and probably actually pays for a TV licence. All those weird things that suddenly matter when you get just a tiny bit older. All those things that when you’re 19 sound like the most boring qualities alive, but when you’re 28, feel strangely safe and important.

Series One, Adam and Hannah’s loud fights were relatable. But now, in series five, when Adam and Jessa have explosive, door-smashing rows, screaming hurtful things at each other, it just looks tiring. What will they eat their dinner off tomorrow? Won’t their landlords go crazy? They’ve definitely lost their deposit on the flat. Ray would be concerned about these things. Ray – most importantly – would never fall for Jessa.

He’s not perfect. Maybe he worries a bit too much. There was that ropey patch in series four where he talked about a traffic light for the entire episode. He didn’t fight for Marnie when he knew he loved her – that was not the action of a brave man. He was in that terrible band with Marnie’s then-boyfriend Charlie in Season One. He sort of let Hannah try and go down on him while he was driving a van, which shows little to no concern for road safety.

However, compared to the other chaotic, pathetic men in Girls, Ray is a ten. Ray is the Jewish hipster Ryan Gosling in a crowd of insensitive idiots. And he’s finally been recognised as such. Well, until Marnie ruins everything for him again. Which she will. Because she’s the worst.
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