When discussing the first episode of Girls with a friend, they expressed disappointment at the show’s return. Why, we asked? They explained that they anticipated Hannah to have already been to the writer’s workshop in Iowa, and that now would be the time when she came back to visit.
But, we countered, she can’t possibly have left, because then we’d never get to see her say goodbye. Or more importantly, make a total mess of saying goodbye, and subsequently likely set up the fallout that will surely come in later episodes.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves… As viewers will know, last week saw Hannah say varying degrees of farewell to her nearest and dearest (props to Marnie, whose practicality may infuriate but also results in her coming to Hannah’s at 6am with coffee to help pack – we’ve all got a friend like Marnie, and we should treasure them for this reason). With barely a backward glance, Hannah has left the bright lights of New York (and a baleful Adam watching from the window) and swapped them for the gently rolling fields, leafy streets and generous rental costs of Iowa. How will a streetwise city kid translate her cred to the silence of the suburbs? And crucially, how will Hannah fare without her posse; will she find solace in the like-minded creative spirits on her course?
‘Like-minded’ might be too strong a term for it; while the Brooklyn hipster writer cliché is well represented by Hannah (and amusingly nodded to by the featuring of a former Gossip Girl cast member), we’re presented with a room of more diverse (literally – Lena Dunham presumably paying attention to earlier criticism), more worldly and more mature creatives, who are as mystified and infuriated by Hannah as many viewers are, and decide to bring her down a few notches. We’ve already witnessed the impact of Hannah having her creativity threatened, so how well will she take a room full of like-minded, similarly opinionated (ok, arrogant) people offering her honest criticism?
As anyone who has ever had an honest conversation with a boss or partner knows, taking criticism well is a true sign of maturity, and maturity is a key theme in this episode – youth, childhood and striking out on your own. Hannah reverts to childish nicknames for her parents, getting into scrapes with broken phones and declined credit cards, and making self-deprecating jokes about getting ID-ed, while routinely asserting her position as a post-graduate student, even, when she crashes an undergrad house party, offering counseling to her younger fellows. Caught between being a child of New York and a ‘woman writer’, Hannah’s decision to take a step back may well be the making of her. But it’s likely that it’s going to break her a little first…
Girls Season 4 is on Sky Atlantic at 10pm. Not got Sky? You can stream it live – or catch up on-demand on NOW TV, as part of £7.99 monthly subscription, no contract. Seasons 1 to 3 are also available until the end of January 2015.
Photo: ©Girls SM, under licence from Home Box Office, Inc.