Girls S4 Ep3: Female Author

This week on Girls … Hannah gets a reality check from Elijah and offers one in return to her classmates. Marnie gets a reality check from Ray and realises she isn’t getting what she really wants from Desi. Jessa gets a reality check from Adam after the pair wind up in jail. And Shoshanna, foolishly, looks to be heading for a reality check of her own.

Marnie wants more from her relationship with Desi (Image: HBO)

Marnie wants more from her relationship with Desi (Image: HBO)

Hannah’s crisis of confidence

Right now I’m in a more pre-writing phase, but it’s all happening or will happen.

It quickly becomes apparent that the negative critique Hannah received from her workshop classmates last week has dented her usual bulletproof self-confidence. She admits to Jessa that she’s not writing at the moment and is less enamoured with her ‘one-horse town’ than she was initially. Although that’s in stark contrast to Elijah, who is having no problems filling his own social calendar. She even asks Jessa about Adam but she says he never mentions her.

You’re uncomfortable in your own skin and you think it’s everybody else’s problem.

Elijah isn’t about to let Hannah cramp his style, though. And he’s quite happy to call her out on her own bullshit. He drags her to a poetry party and turns her whingeing and writer’s angst back onto her.

Is Hannah experiencing true self-doubt for the first time about her calling as a writer, or at least the wisdom of attending the Iowa workshop? If she is, she’s not going to go down meekly, as she turns her classmates’ criticism of her back on them by dissecting their own personality flaws one by one before leaving and heading home in a horse-drawn carriage after her bike – this time carefully locked up – is stolen again.

What Marnie wants

You are 1,000% the mistress.

Ray gives Marnie short shrift as she tries to convince him that she has a proper relationship with Desi and that she’s not just the other woman. He cuts through Desi’s lies about Clementine, giving her pause for thought. Her response? To have sex with Ray.

After a promising meeting at a record company turns embarrassing when Desi firmly states they’re not together, they argue. Marnie tells him that mere intimacy doesn’t work for her any more. Although he talks her down, she tells him that he’s not giving her what she wants – a proper relationship.

Taking the piss

Grow up. You’re a bad influence.

In Hannah’s absence, Adam and Jessa have bonded at their AA meetings. He shares his angst over the growing distance between Hannah and himself and Jessa obliquely refers to another woman in his life.

He offers to help her celebrate her four-month sober birthday. But when she rips up a ticket after being written up by the police for urinating in the street, she lands them both in jail. After Ray bails them out, Jessa launches into a free-spirited rant but Adam calls her out, saying she’s manipulative and provocative and he doesn’t need her as a friend. Shaken, Jessa pleads that she needs him to be her friend.

Shoshanna has an interview at trendy fashion company Ann Taylor Loft and is essentially offered a job on the spot. However, she breezily tells her interviewer that she’s just using this as a trial run to test her firmness of handshake and the wearability of her heels. That sound you hear is that of bridges being burned.

A return to form

After a leisurely opening couple of episodes, this was a much tighter, more balanced and consequently better episode of Girls. Although still Hannah-centric, each of the other major characters (and the men in their lives) has a meaningful segment as Lena Dunham calls out her own characters and offers them a reality check (or, in the case of Shosh, tees one up).

In the case of Jessa, Marnie and Adam, Hannah’s absence is keenly felt. With Beadie out of her life and Hannah in Iowa, Jessa doesn’t have anyone to turn to other than Adam, causing her to show a rare moment of vulnerability. Marnie turns to Ray instead of Hannah as a confidant and while he is suitably affronted by the extent of her self-delusion and sense of entitlement it’s disappointing how easily he submits to her advances. And while Hannah seems to be taking Adam for granted, he is growing tired of her inconsequential wittering and seems to be moving on.

Elijah gets all the best lines as he continues to emerge as more than a comic foil. He offers some genuine insights about both himself and Hannah, dealing her some home truths that could force her to reassess her life plan.

The scene with Hannah and her classmates is Girls at its best, as she delivers some biting and not entirely off-target remarks while also unconsciously revealing her own limitations. Her own writing is all at least semi-autobiographical and she attacks her classmates for daring to write from anything other than their own experiences, missing the point that great writing may require an author to step outside the comfort zone of their own lives.

Is Hannah capable of taking that step? The answer to that question could prove pivotal in defining whether she has a future as a writer. Indeed, we may eventually look back on this episode as a watershed for all four female leads as they enter new phases of their lives. The season now feels like it has a clear direction.

Fun stuff, references & quotables

  • Ray on Desi: “This guy has it made in the shade. He’s got a bungalow on Easy Street where he has his cake and he eats it too.”
  • Elijah, shallow yet deep: “I just realised I got so good at taking selfies I wasn’t feeling challenged any more. And then I thought what would happen if I turned the camera around? It was a real epiphany for me.”
  • Hannah: “I’m a writer and that’s what I do.” / Elijah: “Well, I was a dancer but you don’t see me five, six, seven, eight-ing my way into rooms any more, do you?”
  • Hannah to Chester: “You are a tragically hip Gaysian who is writing manic pixie dream-girl pseudo wheatsy bat bullshit. Your whole story was just like a winky-eyed emoji followed by a poop emoji.” Am I the only one who’s curious to know more about Chester’s story now?
  • This week’s song playing over the closing credits is Everybody Wants Somebody by Joel Jerome.

Rating: 9/10

Girls season 4 reviews

4.1 Iowa

4.2 Triggering

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