Girls S4 Ep1: Iowa

This week on Girls … Hannah prepares to leave for Iowa. Marnie’s live performance goes badly. Shoshanna graduates university. And Jessa is on the receiving end of some harsh words.

Life isn't getting any easier for Hannah and her friends (Image: Girls Wikia)

A new season brings new challenges as the Girls face up to growing up (Image: Girls Wikia)

Growing up and goodbyes

To Hannah, taking the next step in a series of random steps.

A slow, scene-setting season opener revolves around two common themes of growing up and goodbyes.

The episode’s focal point is Hannah‘s impending departure for Iowa. No one quite knows how to handle it, least of all Hannah herself.

She’s put out that Jessa doesn’t seem bothered about hanging out with her before she goes, leading to an argument where Hannah calls her mean and she accuses Hannah of lacking the bravery to break up with Adam, who’s finding work harder than expected to come by after his spell on Broadway. Adam is stoic and distant and, after they have some perfunctory last-night sex, he pretends to be asleep so he doesn’t have to say an awkward goodbye. And she assumes Marnie, after a disastrous jazz brunch performance with Desi, of leaving without saying goodbye, only for her to turn up at 6am with coffee to see her off.

Honestly, too, you like totally picked the best one of my friends to bone, cos I never really liked Marnie.

Meanwhile Shoshanna, back on track after experimenting with her wild side, graduates and says goodbye to university as her parents Mel and Mel bicker over her. She comes to Marnie and Desi’s performance solely to bump into Ray, with whom she makes peace while at the same time making it clear that she’s still interested in getting back together with him.

Jessa faces up to the consequences of aiding Beadie’s failed suicide attempt as her daughter arrives to take her home to Connecticut, giving Jessa a sample of her own withering tongue in the process and leaving her speechless for once.

Uncertain futures

You make the choice you need to survive. You make the choice you need to survive. Everyone’s path will unwind just right. Everyone’s path will unwind just right.

New season, same old Hannah. As ever, she makes every situation she’s in about herself and she remains as self-satisfied and lacking in self-awareness as she has always been. While everyone around her is growing up – or at least trying to – she is steadfast in her own elevated opinion of herself and remains in many ways the least mature member of the group.

She’s rude to her parents. She’s superficial in her concern about the difficulties Adam is facing as his acting career takes a step backwards. (He’s resorted to appearing in TV ads for depression medication just to keep things ticking over.) It’s Shoshanna, the youngest of the four friends, who is the only one to really offer some comfort and advice to Adam.

Shosh is at a crossroads of her own. It’s clear she’s nowhere close to being over Ray and, having completed her degree, what will she do now? It’s time for her to take a step into the real world and perhaps discover that achieving her ten-year plan is not as straightforward as she’s often made it sound.

When my generation and every generation before me were called ‘special’, we were smart enough to know it meant that we were stupid, so it made us work that much harder to stop being stupid.

It’s hard to know exactly where Jessa is heading. Despite her behaviour, it’s apparent she will miss Hannah but, in the aftermath of events with Beadie, she can’t bring herself to say it. After last season’s finale, I suggested that her actions with Beadie would have consequences and that, for once, she might have to face up to them. Maybe it’s time for her to spend some time on planet Earth rather than swanning around in her own world?

Marnie, this business is not for sissy bitches.

As for Marnie, she’s now fully committed to both her affair with Desi and her musical ambitions. Elijah rightly points out to her that she needs a thicker skin after she is thrown by the negative reaction she receives in the restaurant. So often used to having things fall into her lap, Marnie’s setbacks over the past couple of years still haven’t relieved her of her default sense of entitlement. The road ahead looks rocky on both professional and personal fronts.

Overall, this was a ponderous opening that slowly establishes a sense of disjointedness among the four main characters and the men in their lives. With Hannah removed from New York for the foreseeable future, it will be interesting to see how the next few episodes evolve.

Fun stuff, references & quotables

  • Shoshanna compares Adam to Heroes and Star Trek actor Zachary Quinto, foreshadowing his guest appearance later this season.
  • Jessa: “Yo, necrophiliacs.”
  • “What do Judy Garland and Lady Gaga have in common? … They’re both bad bitches who don’t give a f*** what people think.” Elijah gives Marnie a pep talk as only Elijah can.
  • “Marnie, you are so talented. Have you ever thought about being a background artist?” Elijah’s ex-boyfriend Pal continues to channel Mean Girls.
  • The song that plays over the closing credits is Giant by Matrimony, a New York-based four-piece group comprising husband and wife Jimmy Brown and Ashlee Hardee Brown and the latter’s two brothers.

Rating: 7/10

Girls season 3 reviews

3.1 Females Only & 3.2 Truth or Dare

3.3 She Said OK

3.4 Dead Inside

3.5 Only Child

3.6 Free Snacks

3.7 Beach House

3.8 Incidentals

3.9 Flo

3.10 Role Play

3.11 I Saw You

3.12 Two Plane Rides

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