LIVING THAT IOWA LIFE.
You thought your college years were the best (or worst) moments of your life? Try graduate school. On this week’s Girls, we saw Hannah get acclimated to life on the University of Iowa campus, a world of bicycles and green grass and the realization that, yes, you really can live in a house by yourself for $250 a month. “No one’s moving to Iowa but I’m glad you’re happy,” Marnie tells Hannah in an extended FaceTime session, after she gushes about her new lifestyle. But Hannah’s insecurities got the best of her as she bought her textbooks and taunted the campus bookstore clerk for being financially dependent on his parents. (So uncalled for.) That night, her roomy new home felt increasingly dark and cavernous, and she accidentally let a shrieking bat inside, causing her to scurry onto the bathroom floor for a bad night’s rest.
SHOWDOWN AT THE WRITING WORKSHOP.
In Hannah’s first writing class, she listens to her classmates give feedback about another student’s story, spouting flowery and contradictory reactions (“almost offensive but not offensive”, “gut-wrenching without wrenching my guts”). How hard could it be to impress these people? It’s Hannah’s turn, and her first instinct is to provide a certified Trigger Warning in advance, just in case anyone reacts negatively to what they’ve about to hear. But when she reads the abusive sex scene from the story she wrote, the students respond with a laundry list of critiques. What about offending people who are actually abused? What about the male perspective? What if the story is really about Hannah herself—and if it is, should that affect their reading of it?
This scene felt like Dunham quoting her own critics, who often peg Girls for its insular perspective on creativity and privilege. But it’s been proven time and again that Hannah will never be able to write about anything other than herself. Will her classmates (and the viewer) get past that to discover her true voice?
T.M.I. IS AN OUTDATED CONCEPT.
Hannah goes out drinking with her fellow students and delivered the episode’s choice quote: “There’s no such thing as too much information! This is the Information Age.” She’s talking to one of her classmates, the one who said she may have been a little insensitive towards people who’ve actually been abused. After confronting her about her opinion, Hannah decides that her story may have triggered memories of sexual abuse from the girl herself—an argument without reason that no one can deny reasonably. Later that night, Hannah loses her phone and calls her parents from a payphone, who are too busy playing Scrabble to listen to her newly suicidal thoughts. But they’re glad she’s making friends.
HANNAH AND ELI GO TO A COLLEGE PARTY.
The episode concluded with one of those Dunhamesque plot twists that make little rational sense, but which are meant to lead to one giant flight of fancy that will have little consequence: Elijah (Andrew Rannells) shows up inside Hannah’s house, half-naked and glistening, just because NYC was getting a little bit too much for him. He whisks Hannah away from all responsibility and potential self-reflection to a bustling undergrad party, where people still listen to Li’l Jon & The Eastside Boyz and paint wrestling is a community pastime.
Eli gives a handjob to a straight boy and Hannah gives resolutely awful relationship advice to a girl just to cut in line for the bathroom. (She also goes wrestling.) The next morning, Eli and Hannah wake up together and walk back out onto the green lawn, deeply hungover but satisfied, with the knowledge that together they can accomplish anything. Perhaps she’ll be able to get a good story out of that one.