Girls, Season 4 Episode 1: “Iowa”

I watch so many television shows that I have very little time for Girls nowadays. Not because I like it less than I used to (which is also true), but mainly because I live with three other people, two of whom don’t like the show very much. So I watched “Iowa” five days after it aired, thanks to DVR magic. I haven’t watched Girls since last year’s phenomenal “Beach House”, but I basically knew what was going on with all of the characters with the exception of Jessa, because no one ever knows what’s going on with Jessa.

The thing that struck me most about “Iowa” is that it was structured really well. The first scene of the episode is a call-back to the very first scene of the series, except instead of Hannah’s parents telling her that they’re cutting her off, they’re toasting her success at getting into the Iowa Writers Workshop. And Adam is there! All of this highlights how far Hannah has come since the pilot – she’s still broke and will have even more student loans, but it’s a step towards what she wants to be doing, and she has a great boyfriend. She’s still pretty selfish, but so are all these girls. Speaking of Adam, he’s getting acting jobs in commercials, but he doesn’t seem to like doing them very much (that anti-depressant ad was pretty awful, and I still find it strange that prescription medication is allowed to advertise on television in the United States). Adam is making money, but he doesn’t like the sorts of jobs he’s doing to make that money, which seems a lot like where Hannah was when she was working for GQ.

One of the reasons I don’t like Girls as much as I used to is because the characters aren’t as relatable as they used to be. I like that Hannah is trying to have a long distance relationship with Adam, I’ve been through long distance and it sucks, but Marnie is so far gone from where she was at the beginning of the show that I barely recognise her. In the first season, Marnie was in an unhappy relationship, and even though she wanted to break up with Charlie, she found it really hard to be single after having been in a relationship that long. Girls is the only show that I’ve seen that recognises that even if you don’t want to be in a relationship anymore, it’s really difficult to not have that person around all the time and it’s incredibly lonely. Now Marnie is sleeping with a guy who has a girlfriend (did she think they broke up?), and she got freaked out by some kids who were running around at her jazz brunch performances. The best part of this storyline is that Elijah (Andrew Rannells is now a series regular!) told her that if she wants to be in this business, she needs to develop a thicker skin. How had no one told her that before? I also think, based on the previews for next week’s episode that Hannah is going to learn a similar lesson.

So it was an okay episode! I didn’t love it the way I loved the first season, but the commitment of sending Hannah to Iowa is something I’m really looking forward to.

Other thoughts:

  • We meet Shosh’s parents! They’re called Mel and Mel, and I just had to say that this show has been so good at casting parents; when I heard that Rita Wilson was Marnie’s mother, that was perfect, and Ana Gasteyer is equally perfect.
  • Shosh also displays some degree of self-awareness when she apologises to Ray, which is interesting. Perhaps her issues with failing some of her final semester subjects actually led to some introspection, which is more than can be said for the other three girls.
  • I really don’t have much to say about Jessa, except everything she ever says is full of shit. What does she even want? It feels like she’s just there for no reason.
  • I’m really sad that Hannah didn’t even wake Adam up to say goodbye to him, that’s not what I would have done. Based on my experience, I would have been inconsolable.
  • Hannah and Marnie seem to have moved past that Elijah argument.
  • I think it’s a real problem that the most interesting characters on a show called Girls are all men.
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