No matter what age we are, we still take reassurance from the idea that, no matter where we are, our parents are a reliable and stable constant from our babyhood to our adulthood. As confused twenty-somethings struggling to make sense of life, this is often more important than ever. So it’s only natural that Lena Dunham takes a sledgehammer to the comforting ideal that is Hannah’s parents in Season 4, having her dad come out, over the dinner table, in last week’s episode.
This season of Girls has been more cliché-filled than most, albeit filled with clichés given a hipster twist. An empowered, single-minded female choosing to tell her boyfriend about her abortion only after she’d had it; an impulsive and idealistic artist couple deciding to pick the less aggressive of the options facing artist couples and get engaged after a fight, Ross-and-Rachel-style. Hannah’s dad, who we’ve all admittedly been wondering about for a while, coming out is the culmination of the series’ tropes.
As irritating as it is, it does provide another emotional crisis for Hannah to deal with, as is tradition in the Girls canon. She’s handled creative meltdown and relationship meltdown, but having the world you grew up in – that your parents introduced you to – rock underneath you is admittedly a good, fresh way to produce an environment in which Hannah and the cast can explore the theme of adulthood.
It’s an undercurrent that has run throughout this season and it builds in this episode. Ray, the old man of the group, who still seems to like being in the presence of these hopeless youngsters, makes a successful foray into local politics, backed by the doe-eyed Shoshanna, for want of something better to do. Jessa and Ace (oh yes, Zachary’s back) have the youthful equivalent of the awkward dinner party Hannah’s parents attended last week, and while nobody comes out, there are certainly revelations to be heard. Revelations that, of course, set us right up for the inevitability of the next week’s conclusion perfectly.
So, with mere minutes – ok, 25 – left of Season 4, what have our girls (and our boys) learned? Aside from, quite simply, the resounding truth that adulthood does kind of suck a lot of the time? Hannah has learned that dreams are never as good when you actually live them. Shoshanna has learned that the real world is best reserved for being viewed through rose-coloured glasses. Marnie has learned that she’s loveable (and that she might be about to make a big mistake). Jessa, drifting from scene to scene like a prophetess, piling her hair on her head and spitting acerbic advice like the Sybills of old, has learned that all her experiences aren’t really amounting to anything.
What will all this learning add up to as the final act opens? See you next week…
Girls Season 4 is on Sky Atlantic on Mondays 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.
Photo: Craig Blankenhorn / Girls SM, under licence from Home Box Office, Inc.