Recap: Girls, Season 4, Episode 1


Jazz brunch, anyone?

Yesterday, I was finally able to prove the value of Twitter to myself. Yes, it causes hours of procrastination but it also allows you to spot great opportunities, competitions and events and get in there before anyone else does.

I was half-heartedly browsing the web, attempting to get over the inevitable 3pm slump, when an amazing event caught my eye. The Debrief magazine were hosting the UK premiere of the first episode of ‘GIRLS’ Season 4, a series that I – like every other English-speaking female under 25 – happen to love.

A speedy email and a few loooooong days later and I found myself in the basement of the upmarket Mondrian Hotel on London’s Southbank, chatting to the delightful Debrief editorial team over a glass of wine. 

At 7pm, I followed the rest of the bunch (mainly young female bloggers with superior taste in television) into the screening room. To my surprise and glee, we were treated to goodie bags with Season 3 of the show on DVD, a ‘GIRLS’ t-shirt, postcards illustrated with sketches of the girls and a copy of ‘The Birth of the Pill’, a new book by Jonathan Eig, all packed into a ‘Debrief’ tote bag.

The Debrief’s acting Editor, Rebecca Holman, gave a quick introduction and then I settled back into the supremely comfortable chair, bracing myself for quick wit, bad singing and a whole lot of outrageous sex.

First, we were given an exclusive look at Marnie’s full music video – yes, that one. Watching Alison Williams sing ‘religion is the smile on a dog’ whilst writhing, smoking and shaking her ass got the evening off to a pretty riotous start. It’s just so, SO bad.

When the cackles of laughter had died down, we watched the final episode of Season 3, to remind us all where we’d left the ladies (for the record, the episode is so much more enjoyable when watched with a group of young women all laughing at the jokes, rather than glanced at every five minutes in between browsing social media and a half-arsed attempt to finish an essay. Shocking that.)

Finally, Season 4, Episode 1 began!

So, what went down?

At the end of Season 3, Hannah got into the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and her boyfriend Adam didn’t seem to be coping so well with the news.

At the start of Season 4, Hannah and Adam are struggling to keep their relationship together under a veil of ‘I’m fine, we’ll be fine, having no plan is just fine’. Hannah actually looks happy about this new adventure – if, understandably, a tad nervous about uprooting her entire life. Adam’s got himself a biker jacket and a beginner’s guide to philosophy and successfully rains on Hannah’s congratulatory parade with the world’s worst toast (‘To Hannah, taking the next step in a series of random steps’) and an advert for depression medication.

Although she’s ostensibly the heroine, it’s not Hannah but Marnie’s Season 4 opener that’s been gaining all the internet attention. In case you’ve somehow missed the Twitter explosion on the topic, we first see Marnie up against the kitchen counter with a man’s face buried between her bum cheeks. When, seconds later, he emerges, we realise it’s Desmond, the sexy singer who had an equally sexy girlfriend, Clementine at the end of Season 3.

Shoshanna is finally graduating (yay!) but is – understandably – trying to be low key about it, after her humiliating fail in Season 3, whilst Jessa comes face to face with the consequences of helping Beadie, the suicidal artist, to almost kill herself, when Beadie’s daughter shows up and drags her mother off for some enforced R&R, leaving Jessa in the emotional lurch.

Our girls finally come together at Marnie and Desi’s gig, which we later discover is actually a ‘jazz brunch’, complete with screaming children and Elijah (on top form and with all the best lines, as per). The most shocking part (at least for this viewer) of the aforementioned risqué sex act is then revealed when Clementine rocks up and it becomes clear that her and Desi are still together. She apologises to Marnie for suspecting her of a blatant attempt at man-stealing. Marnie graciously accepts, in a foolish act of diplomacy which will almost certainly come back and bite her on the ass (pun not intended).

Marnie and Desi’s vomit-inducing singalong and Jessa’s snarky comments cause Hannah to take a time-out in the bathroom. Her motivational mirror speech is interrupted by a wounded Jessa, who reverts to her old tricks of disguising her hurt as brutal, ‘give-a-shit’ honesty and tells Hannah that she’s being fundamentally selfish by moving to Iowa without breaking up with Adam. Do I detect the sound of the first nail being hammered into the relationship coffin?

One too many bratty kids and bitchy gays causes Marnie to have a mini meltdown and leads to Elijah delivering my favourite line of the episode: “Marnie, this business is not for sissy bitches”.

The hideously cringe-worthy ‘banter’ Marnie and Desi exchanged between numbers (‘If you like, I’ll scat for ya’) was totally worth it for the appearance of Marnie’s mum, who flirted with Elijah and clutched her perspex iPhone case as she mimed along to all the songs.

In fact, I loved the amount of parental action we got in this episode. Aside from Marnie’s mum, a particular highlight was Shosh’s parents’ ‘Responsible Adult’ contest, culminating in her mum’s bold claim that she’s never mishandled a package.

Hannah’s mum and dad’s excitement for her was one of the best things that came out of watching the two episodes back to back. As they jumped up and down in the kitchen, told her how proud they were and bickered over fig snacks as an appropriate car snack, I felt genuinely emotional and happy for Hannah that she finally had the visible validation and support we’ve watched her crave for 3 seasons.

This episode struck a great tone, effortlessly jumping between the witty (and often uncomfortable) humour that Girls does so well and moments that were surprisingly thought-provoking and moving.

Hannah’s goodbye was especially poignant. It’s a testimony to Lena Dunham’s gift that we end up viewing the characters as we do our closest friends – they can piss us off like no one else but boy would we miss them if they left.The usually selfish Marnie showing up at Hannah’s door with coffee at 6am to say goodbye reminds us of how far these two have come since we first met them as roommates in Season 1. As Hannah clung to Marnie’s waist like a child refusing to leave her mother on her first day at school, the bravery of Hannah’s choice – to leave her friends, flat and comfort zone to push herself creatively and professionally – really hit home. Marnie’s display of support was set against Adam’s faux-sleeping as he avoided having to wave his girlfriend goodbye (although, to be fair, Hannah doesn’t try very hard to wake him up). This reluctance from both sides to confront relationship obstacles doesn’t bode well for the couple.

What did you think of the ep?


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