Girls Talk: In Which Hannah Virulently Rejects ‘Cubbies,’ Academia, and Actual Growth

By  · Published on February 9th, 2015


Oh, hey, that didn’t talk long. Although our erstwhile heroine (?) and protagonist (?) Hannah (Lena Dunham, who we continue to wish made a series about her own life, because she is wonderful and cool and fun and not like goddamn Hannah at all) took a big leap of faith as this season of Girls kicked off (just four brief episodes ago, we must remind you), jettisoning her NYC lifestyle to attend the prestigious Iowa Writers’ Workshop to actually work on the one thing we’ve told she’s really, really good at (writing, for those of you in the cheap seats). Hannah never really took to Iowa – mostly because she never really seemed interested in stretching her intellect, personality, or social interactions to do so – so we’re not exactly shocked that “Cubbies” saw Hannah kicking the thing wholesale. We are, however, surprised that the show only squeezed four episodes out of it. Iowa, we hardly knew ye.

After a long Sundance sojourn (and big love to our own Scott Beggs for picking up our slack while we frolicked in snowbanks for a week), your own Rob Hunter and your own me are back to talk Girls.

Kate: Well, okay! For the first, oh, 95% of this episode, I couldn’t help but think, geez, this will be easy to talk about, it’s all about breakdowns and breaking points! Fun! and then the whole goddamn thing needed to be flipped on me. Let’s not mess around on this, what could have just been “the episode where everyone freaks out” quickly (though not unexpectedly) morphed into “the episode where Hannah leaves Iowa” and then – almost instantaneously! – into “the episode where Adam totally cheated on Hannah in the worst possible way.” Now, Rob, what did you think this episode was going to be about before it became about, well, what it is actually about?

Rob: I agree with 95% of what you just said!

The episode did very much seem like a series of breaking points – Hannah’s, Ray’s, Shosh’s, Marnie’s, (and I think even Hannah’s dad may have reached one of his own but has yet to share it) – and that did seem to be the theme. People hit a wall and make a decision to either act or react. It was fun seeing Ray and Shosh both reverse course – he grew more childish, she grew up – but Hannah leaving Iowa is the big decision here. We talked about whether this would be a short detour or a season-long one, and I guess now we have our answer. It’s unfortunate on one hand as I appreciated the new atmosphere, but that writing group always felt too exaggerated so I don’t think I’ll be missing it or them.

But did Adam cheat on Hannah? The show never really explained what their deal was, but it was clear the two weren’t speaking. I had assumed they were on a Friends break, but the look on Hannah’s face says otherwise. She might disagree, but I think Adam was under the belief that he and Hannah were kaput. He didn’t just sleep with another woman (the lovely Gillian Jacobs) but he reorganized the apartment. That’s not the act of someone trying to sneak around…it’s the act of someone starting a new life.

Kate: There’s definitely something going on with Hannah’s dad – is he leaving her mom? he seemed perpetually on the edge of telling her something – and I’m sure that will play some sort of part later, though anything and everything will inevitably be pushed to the back burner by the arrival of Hannah back in NYC. Will I miss Iowa? Yes. Will I miss the writing group? Sort of. Will I miss wanting to goddamn murder Hannah every single time she had anything even remotely academic to do? No.

Also, uh, what about Elijah?

Whatever has been going on with Adam and Hannah has been very fuzzy. The best I can tell, they were still kinda/sorta together, although that “togetherness” involved not speaking for weeks at a time and acting weird around all their friends. I do remember from the season’s first episode that she was planning to come back during some kind of break. In any case, I don’t think Hannah thinks they are broken up and, even if she did, the real story here is that he’s taken over their apartment. That’s Hannah’s apartment, and the idea of someone getting rid of her stuff and essentially erasing her from the literal manifestation of her life in New York kind of makes me want to heave (and I don’t even like her!). Hey, finding housing in New York City is hard! And someone is going to have to be kicked out! …Right?

Rob: If Hannah’s name is on the lease then it’s Adam who should leave, but that said I can see her backing down (at least temporarily) out of shock and exhaustion. Maybe she moves in Marnie? Those two are the tightest friends the show has, and I can see a new source of drama being milked if Marnie’s newly single man moves in too. That would not be a peaceful trio.

Speaking of musical Marnie and her beige mister, what is she thinking? It’s clear she’s smart enough to know that he didn’t leave his girlfriend for Marnie as much as he left his gf and Marnie’s a safety net. The smile on her face as he diddled her nether regions tells us Marnie may just be fine with that but I wonder how long that can last before he says Clementine’s name during sex.

And poor Elijah…he’s always an afterthought. I hope we see him next episode reading Hannah the riot act for not even telling him she was leaving. His rants are things of beauty.

Kate: I’m fairly certain that the show wouldn’t cast Gillian Jacobs in a role that doesn’t allow her to hang around and be funny and weird a whole bunch, so perhaps Hannah will actually, gulp, move in with Adam and Mimi Rose? Maybe it will be a war of attrition! We’ll all have to suffer to see who backs down first! Imagine the carnage! In any case, Adam can suck it and I am really pissed at him and you just don’t do that to someone’s home. I will not budge on this. (Small concession, I sort of expected him to get together with Jessa, so this is…somewhat better? Christ, we’re putting the bar low for these characters.)

Marnie! Marnie knows what’s up, but I think that she’s so sick of losing things (or, perhaps more accurately, not actually winning them) that she’s willing to take Strummy McStrummerson, at least for now. Marnie has been told repeatedly that he’s not going to leave his darling Clementine for her, and even if she’s fully aware of the actual driving motivations for their breakup, this still gives her the opportunity to at least tell people, “Look! He picked me! I am worthy!” Until, at least, the whole thing backfires, as it (of course) will.

Maybe Elijah won’t even notice that she’s gone?

Rob: Ooh, I hadn’t thought about that – mostly because no one would let it happen in the real world – but I do love the idea of watching the chaos unfold in the show. And you don’t need to budge on Adam, but I do feel like the show left us with very little information with which to form a real opinion. To our knowledge the two haven’t talked in weeks, maybe even months, and it’s entirely possible that Adam believed they had split.

As a quick side note, it’s interesting that the two of us, working from the same information, are falling on the gender divide with this development. I’m curious if that holds true with viewers in general.

You’re right about Marnie, though. She’s always been more interested in the destination than she is in the journey. Who cares exactly how the beige strummer became her boyfriend…she can now claim victory! It’s just one more example of her ongoing series of incredibly poor judgments, a lack of skill and common sense that also reared its head when she asked Jessa to evaluate her new song. Jessa. There isn’t a person in the entirety of New York City less suited to give Marnie a worthwhile opinion of the music. Even if Jessa had good taste she’s not the kind of person who would share it with criticism.

And no joke, I would watch the hell out of a spin-off series focused on Elijah’s Iowa adventures.

Kate: Question: how long do we think Hannah has been gone for? I’d guess a month, max? It doesn’t seem like she’s does anything of substance – shock! – but it also doesn’t seem like it’s been super long. In any case, Adam is a dog and I mourn for Hannah’s couch in a real and visceral way.

You would be on Adam’s side. Kidding! I would rather be on Adam’s side, and I understand we probably don’t have all our information yet, but damn, I had a very real reaction to that last minute reveal. I sat straight up and went, “WHAT!” I was shocked. I was sad. I had so many emotions.

Do we think that Clementine is actually going to come back? Part of me wishes for some sort of slam-bang mess at one of Marnie and Strummy’s live shows, guitars thrown and all that. Lots of tears. Some whining for sure.

Team Elijah. Forever.

Rob: I’d love for Clementine to return, and not just because Natalie Morales deserves more exposure. Ideally she’ll come back and get into a big, messy fight with Marnie that results in the two of them becoming friends and both dumping Mr. Bland.

I am liking the path that Ray and Shosh are on, though. The two of them can be such great friends as long as they acknowledge that they can’t be more than that. Her heartfelt speech to him outside the changing room is probably her wisest, most self-aware moment in the series, and he responded with an atypical amount of kindness. It was sweet and a nice change of pace for both of them.

Regardless of how long Hannah was gone in the show’s time, are you surprised with how short her time away was in the way of episodes? She only lasted four, and I’m a little surprised by how little the show accomplished with her in Iowa storyline-wise. Essentially all we got was “Hannah and academia don’t mix,” and I think it’s pretty slim in light of all the possibilities that new characters and locations bring.

Kate: Ray and Shosh tugged on my heartstrings in a big way during this week’s episode. I keep expecting one of them to try to win the other back, and when they didn’t, it was refreshing and sweet and unexpected – not the kind of stuff I typically expect from Girls. Good for them. Fuck honking also.

Question: what kind of job should Shosh get? There has to be an opening for “headband designer” somewhere, right?

What does Hannah mix with? I continue to be baffled that Iowa – even the fake “Iowa” of the show – would let her into such a workshop-based atmosphere. How did they not realize that Hannah is entirely ill-equipped to not only not deal with criticism, but even to talk about her work in a real and workable way? As I’ve said before, it doesn’t appear that Iowa doesn’t interview applicants. Hannah is proof that they should.

Rob: I’m waiting for Shosh to swallow her pride and crawl back to the woman who actually offered her a job, but I’m not sure that’s in her DNA. She needs something soon though. Last season saw her kick into high gear to graduate, and it’d be a shame if she simply falls back into a lazy rut again. Maybe Ray can continue his pattern of being the show’s most mature character – yelling at traffic aside – and help guide her into a job somewhere.

And I think we can all agree that the Iowa story-line is something of a misfire. It never felt legitimate or believable, the writing group’s millennial attitudes were heightened and turned all the way to 11 and nothing of real value happened there. It feels like a missed opportunity that exists solely as a way to setup the Hannah/Adam split. That’s not a bad thing, but I feel like they could have done so much more with Hannah so far outside of her comfort zone.

Kate: Perhaps Ray and Shosh can team up on a new business venture? Something involving both artisan coffee and high class hair accessories?

The Iowa storyline was most definitely a misfire. Instead of offering up new perspectives for both Hannah and the audience, it was just more of the same – exaggerated characters, Hannah’s inability to act like a goddamn adult, and yet another professional failure for the budding “writer.” Where does she even go from here?

Rob: That’s the key question here. We’ve been told repeatedly that Hannah’s a strong writer – well, at least until she got to Iowa – but she’s failed at pretty much every writing-based endeavor she’s attempted. So what are we to make of that? It’s unclear what the show is saying there. Is she just her own worst enemy and constantly at war with her own abilities? And if so, is it even possible for her to find success as a writer? She needs a writing job that completely removes her and her personality from exposure to others, but I have no idea what that could possibly be aside from writing a novel and submitting it anonymously.

Kate: She could always start blogging.

Rob: You joke, but could that be the limit of her writing achievement? Not to belittle bloggers, obviously, but it’s possible that career built on a solitary work environment might just be the pinnacle of her ability. At least until she gets a TV deal off of the blog…

Kate: …and we go through this whole thing again. Hannah: perhaps not a writer. Also: perhaps not fit for social interaction of any kind. Limiting!

Rob: Bingo. I’ll be curious to see where she goes in this season’s remaining episodes, but I assume none of it will have much to do with a writing career (barring some deus ex machina-like offer from another publisher). Oh, Hannah, we wish you the best but we expect the worst.