Recap: Girls, Season 4, Episode 2

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So. Iowa.

Deep breaths everyone.

We open with Hannah being shown round her new apartment. It is $250 a month. “But there’s lots of light”, the realtor says, reassuringly, as if Hannah isn’t already on the verge of a nervous breakdown as she tries to calculate how many of her NYC apartments could fit inside the kitchen. ‘I’ll take it!’, she screams, because, of course.

The first thing Hannah does in her new apartment is Skype Marnie, who refuses to talk about Adam at all, even though Hannah is ’totally over it’.*  Luckily for Hannah, the connection freezes before Marnie can chat any more shit about how her seedy affair with Desi is actually the greatest musical love match since Beyoncé and Jay Z, and people who think otherwise are just ‘threatened’.

*Are we to assume, then, that H+A ≠ <3? If so, Dunham & co. have denied us a break up chat and I’m not happy about it.

Skype sesh aborted, Hannah turns her attention outwards and heads off to meet the people of Iowa.

Turns out, Iowa is as full of kooks as NYC – they just don’t quite get Hannah yet.

There’s the goth girl who insinuates that Hannah looks too old to be an undergraduate, causing Hannah to belligerently inform her that she often gets ID’d actually. Which is fine, until she mentions that it’s during sex, rather than when trying to buy a litre of vodka.

Then there’s the snarky cashier who is totally unimpressed when Hannah attempts to patronise him and makes him call Amex when her credit card is rejected, despite a huge queue building up behind her. I sense a weird, perverse chemistry with these two. I hope future eps yield more till-based tension.

Back home, she wanders around on the porch holding her phone in the air (a familiar stance to countryside girls everywhere), until a passing dude tells her that her phone is doomed to remain ringless because this is Iowa and therefore inherently lacking in signal. He does invite her to watch his band play, though, so yay for potential new friends.

Later that night, her new house good vibes are ruined ever so slightly by homesickness predominantly directed at Adam (staring at couply Photo Booth images is so not the behaviour of someone who’s ‘over it’) and a midnight ambush by a bat, ending up with her sleeping on a makeshift bed on her bathroom floor.

The next morning, she oversleeps and has to cycle like a maniac to class (because no first day is complete without a panic attack and a sweat shower).

(SMALL BUT CRUCIAL ASIDE: one of Hannah’s new classmates is DOROTA FROM GOSSIP GIRL which means this episode automatically gets 5*s from me.)

The writing class itself is typical Ivy League fair (and completely hilarious writing), toeing the thin line between pretentious and ridiculous with lines like ‘I thought you played with gender in a way that was really surprising and almost offensive…but not offensive’.

Each student has to read their story aloud and wait patiently whilst the writing is critiqued. Naturally, Hannah prefaces her story with a self-important and (it turns out) unnecessary trigger warning and sets herself up for a spectacular fall. It’s not just that her story is embarrassingly average (and transparently autobiographical) but that she is utterly unable to take criticism without childishly leaping to her own defence. This aspect, of course, adds another meta layer to the scene, with Dunham giving a sly nod to the criticism thrown at the show itself – criticism that, IRL, the writer manages to handle with more grace and self-awareness than her celluloid counterpart.

Rather than taking the sensible advice of one her kindlier classmates and learning to separate work and play, Hannah follows her fellow students to a bar and works herself up into a frenzy about the concept of ‘TMI’.

To top it all off, her bike is stolen.

We know she’s not handling things too well when she calls her mum* from a phone booth (stupid signal-less Iowa), ‘Is it normal when you get to a new place to think about suicide for like the first time ever?’. Her mum hangs up to play Scrabble.

*Shout out to Shosh and Jessa who receive Hannah’s first attempt at a phone call, but are too busy watching Scandal to care.

But things are looking up! When she gets home, a half-naked Elijah is conveniently waiting to surprise her. ‘I don’t like anyone who isn’t you!’ cries Hannah, throwing herself on his chest. Us neither, Hannah, us neither.

Instead of sitting at home moping about her rubbish writing skills, Hannah and Elijah hit an undergrad party and throw shapes to ‘Get Low’. Until, that is, Elijah finds an innocent, sexually confused fresher to fondle in a doorway, and Hannah forces her counsel on a crying girl because she’s 25 and has ’seen a lot of things’, before wrestling another lucky lady in a paddling pool of blue jello.

Come morning, the pair of rascals wind their way back to Hannah’s swanky new pad, as Hannah wistfully wishes she was still an undergraduate. Which basically sums up all her problems.

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