Girls, Season 4 Episode 2: “Triggering”

“Triggering” is the episode of Girls that was most discussed by critics before the fourth season started because of its meta-like qualities. I think the scenes with Hannah highlight that getting into the Iowa Writers’ Workshop is just the next step into her becoming a writer, and of course parallels criticisms people have made of the show itself. It took me a while to watch this episode because I decided to wait until Bernard Tomic lost his tennis match (tennis really does take over my life in the second half of January), just in case my brother comes home and asks me what the result was. Overall, “Triggering” was a good episode of Girls, even if some parts of the episode weren’t particularly subtle.

The most glaringly obvious problems with the episode were the “This is Iowa!” moments. I learned that the show didn’t have permission to film on location in Iowa, so they had to use parts of Brooklyn, so the establishing shots of the Iowa cornfields seemed really obvious. And then Hannah couldn’t believe that the place she was renting was only $250 a month, and neither could I, because I can’t imagine any real estate in Australia for that price that would be worth living in. Also Hannah doesn’t need to lock her bike because this is Iowa! And then it got stolen anyway.

It seemed strange to me that the trailer showed Elijah joining Hannah in Iowa and not Adam, since Hannah was so worried about the long distance stuff, but it made much more sense when I found out that Eijah just showed up on his own, because that’s who Elijah is. After Hannah’s “ordeal” (that’s what she thought it was anyway) of her story being workshopped, seeing Elijah, or at least someone from home, is exactly what she needed. And it seemed like she almost forgot about Adam because Elijah made her go out and enjoy herself. Then she told the other girl (“I’m 25, I’ve seen a lot of things”) not to worry about her boyfriend cheating on her, so that girl she was trying to comfort at the time was basically her subconscious. Still, Hannah having fun at a party is better than Hannah trying to manipulate Marnie into talking about Adam. Props to Marnie for knowing exactly what’s happening there, but she really shouldn’t be knitting that scarf for Desi.

And now for the meta of it all. Hannah’s story is about a girl who had an abusive experience with her boyfriend, and her classmates called her out for being a priviliged girl and trivialising the actual issues of abuse, which is not too different to criticisms that have been made of Dunham’s writing on Girls. Hannah is a less actualised version of Lena Dunham, and as I said earlier. Later at the bar, Hannah asks one of her classmates if she really believed what she said about the story, and she did. Hannah is so myopic that she just assumes that this classmate is a victim of abuse. Then her classmate tells her that these workshops are just a small scale version of what happens to a writer when their work is published to a wider audience. I don’t know exactly what Dunham thinks of her critics (given her friendship with Taylor Swift, I’m sure she doesn’t mind that much), but these scenes seem to indicate where she was when she first heard the criticisms of her show compared to where she is now that Girls is in its fourth season.

Other thoughts:

  • Hannah’s card didn’t go through, and she dropped her phone in the creek in addition to her phone being stolen.
  • Hannah was running late for class, so she went in her pyjamas! I wish I lived close enough to campus to be able to do that when I was doing my Masters
  • I love that Hannah’s parents are really involved in their scrabble game
  • Elijah on Iowa, proving that he’s the best: “On the way over from the airport, two people asked me if I was Blake Lively’s husband. It’s so exciting!”
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