Hannah joins her family of guest stars in a trying time, in this week’s “Girls.” Her grandmother, Flo played by Oscar nominated actress June Squibb, is going to die and her mother needs her to say goodbye before it’s too late… and saying other things to her grandmother that aren’t necessarily true. Below, Alex and Shelby digest it all.
Alex: I was sitting next to Hannah on the roller coaster of this episode. This had all kinds of emotional highs and lows and I felt all of them. As soon as Mrs. Horvath asked Hannah to tell Flo she was marrying Adam, I knew it was an idea that could totally backfire and it looked like it did. This episode reasonably could’ve ended with a healthy grandma, but I felt like Lena Dunham was telling us Flo was going to die by leaving out any sort of line about the grandma actually being able to be at Hannah’s wedding after she started feeling better. But holy crap. Name any other “Girls” episode that has changed story trajectories in a matter of seconds like “Flo” did this week. Flo was feeling better, so Hannah was going to have to find a way to deal with this “We’re getting married” thing. Instead, Flo suffers a heart attack, but Hannah and Adam may have opened up a line of communication about their future together.
Shelby: For me, this episode really landed among the ranks of “One Man’s Trash” and “Video Games” from season 2–which were two brilliantly written episodes that seemed to pull the narrative arc away from the four-girl dynamics the show was based on. One thing I’ve really come to love about Girls is how expertly Lena crafts a continuous plot without involving the same characters each new episode, which keeps each new story fresh and revealing. This episode was absolutely twisty-turny. I was surprised when it was over and I realized that so many things had happened in just one episode. We met four new characters and lost one in thirty minutes. We delved deeper into Hannah’s family dynamic, sat through a sibling feud, survived a car crash, and witnessed an engagement announcement (even if it was fake). It was a lot to handle.
Alex: Hannah’s aunts were fantastic, I thought, especially Margot. She’s crazy. The Hannah-Rebecca relationship was really interesting. I recognized Rebecca (Sarah Steele) from “Spanglish” as weird as that is. Rebecca’s interactions with Hannah were really uncomfortable to sit through, at first, because she kept putting Hannah down in such an indirect, but obvious way. I’d like to mention that I thought it was funny that when Hannah is talking about “Grey’s Anatomy” there is a Gray’s Anatomy textbook on the table. Weirdly, Rebecca has an unsteady background, similar to how Hannah feels at times. It’s clear that Margot, her mother, pushes her a little harder than she would like, but it’s also interesting that she is in this multi-faceted open relationship. The car accident shocked me, even though I saw it coming. It had it’s parallels to “Video Games,” actually — specifically speaking about the late-night joy ride Hannah, Jessa and the boys have sometime after dinner. This time Hannah and Rebecca actually crashed, surprisingly hard and fast into the back of a parked car, but Hannah was just as uneasy as the driver in “Video Games” huffed and Jessa put her hand over his face.
Shelby: While I was laughing at the interactions between Loreen and her sisters, I was totally cringing on the inside. Isn’t it weird that even adults grow up, the relationship they have with their siblings never really does? Loreen, Sissy, and Margot were acting like such children. Even Hannah and Rebecca fell victim to similar behavior; it was as though all the repressed resentment these women experienced in childhood were finally manifesting themselves in awkward, ugly ways once everyone had been reunited in adulthood. I also thought it was refreshing to see a cousin relationship onscreen, because I really do think that cousinhood is one of the most trying relationships a person can have, and even though it’s fascinating and intricate, I think a lot of writers would overlook it in favor of examining their characters’ trying and troubled relationships with more immediate family members.
Alex: An enlightening moment of this episode was after the car accident, in the hospital, when Loreen, Sissy and Margot were fighting each other like Hannah and Rebecca had earlier. It just goes to show that the generations of that family grow up the same way. No, Rebecca isn’t Hannah’s sister but she’s one of the closest people she has to it albeit by blood. It was an interesting moment to realize the three sisters grew up always demeaning each other and arguing all day and night. But it was a nice moment when Hannah held Rebecca’s hand after everyone cleared out of the room. In a way, they’re victims to how much their parents argued and they both realized it in that scene specifically. They left this episode in a closer relationship, see: Rebecca, not Loreen, calls Hannah with the news at the end of this episode.
Shelby: I noticed that too! And I’m glad you brought it up. I think you’re really on point with the idea that Hannah and Rebecca have been victims of their mother’s sibling rivalry. In fact, we got a glimpse of just how much it affects the mother-daughter relationships when Loreen asked Hannah to tell her grandmother she was getting married. In episodes past, Hannah’s mom hasn’t seemed like the kind of mom who would make such a request, and I found myself thinking the same thing Hannah did: “I really thought you were more progressive than that!” And of course, her mother can only respond, “I’m not.” Because I’m still holding onto my English major roots, I can’t help but notice something deeper happening in this episode. I think that the resolution of Rebecca and Hannah’s relationship might even resemble an even bigger societal movement. I’m speaking, of course, about feminism. The “F word” has received a lot of flack in the past for creating even greater tensions among women, but perhaps this small glimpse into the dynamic of one family can be a model for feminism of the future: even if generations before us will bicker amongst themselves and pass judgment on each others’ choices, women today don’t have to follow that example. We can join hands as victims of that struggle and move past it with respect and acceptance for each other.
Alex: You just had a moment and a smart observation, reading in between the lines. We saw a lot of mother-daughter conflict in this episode. While you point to the fake marriage, I look at Loreen’s attitude toward Adam. I understand that parents want the best for you and probably judge your significant other more than we care to find out, but assuming what Hannah and Adam have is some kind of fling is sort of disrespectful. I high fived Hannah for her defense and how she stood up to her mother. When Rebecca demands that she come back at the end of this episode, I think this specific interaction crept into Hannah’s head a little bit. She knows there is at least one person there who doesn’t totally support the life she’s living in the city and I don’t think she wants to crawl back to that environment. It’s the same, but different, to the way she felt in season one when she went home for her parents’ anniversary.
Shelby: I’ll admit I felt a little squeamish when Hannah and her mom fought about Adam at the end of the episode. I’ve never been the biggest Adam proponent, and I’ve actually thought a lot of the things that Loreen said. However, I was on Hannah’s side when she fought back, and she kind of swayed my opinion about Adam. I think in that moment, Adam became more family to Hannah than her own mother did. It’s really hard to reconcile differences in opinion and world views when those differences happen with someone who raised you.
Alex: I’m wondering how you reacted to Hannah and Adam’s phone conversation about Loreen request. It was certainly one of those conversations you have in a relationship where nobody wins and nobody knows what just happened. As a man, I gritted my teeth because I felt Adam’s pain in how confused he could be by what just happened on the phone. I think Hannah needs to give Adam more credit than she does for wanting a serious future. The parallels between Loreen’s ideology and how Hannah used to think are inescapable here. The thing that ended their initial relationship was how she couldn’t take Adam seriously as a potential suitor. Now that her mind has changed, I hope Hannah gives Adam his due. She ought to know how Adam feels, but I understood the confusion from her end of the phone call, too.
Shelby: I LOVED Hannah’s ramble right before she hung up the phone. It was perfect. I don’t really sympathize with one party over another, because at the end of the day, Adam had every reason to be skeptical about Loreen’s request, but I guess I just see Hannah’s point much more clearly because I’ve totally been on her side of that pseudo-argument. There was really no other way she could have expected that conversation to go, but when her suppositions of how Adam might react were confirmed, it stressed her out and gave her a whole new something to worry about–is Adam truly as committed as she thinks he is? While Adam didn’t really do anything wrong, he also didn’t provide the sort of answer that someone as neurotic as Hannah needs to hear.
Alex: It was a perfectly matched response to the kind of person Hannah is, you’re right. I only just realized that we’ve done all of this talking about haven’t mentioned June Squibb. What a sweet lady. For starters, I think one of her final lines, “People aren’t always right,” relates to a lot of things Hannah goes through — specifically, Loreen’s assumptions about Adam. I thought Flo delivered some great lines in this episode. “You look great! What did you do differently?” Hannah: “I gained 15 pounds.” That made me laugh because it was right in line with something I heard Lena say on a podcast last week. Everyone tells her she looks skinnier because they see her as Hannah every Sunday, but she always has to tell them she hasn’t lost any weight; in fact, it’s just that Hannah has a slouchy posture compared to Lena.
Shelby: That is some awesome trivia, Alex. I love that Lena has constantly been combatting her haters’ comments about her weight and appearance through Hannah. And I really thought that the last advice from Grandma Flo came at exactly the right moment Hannah (and audiences) needed to hear it. It’s so simple–“People aren’t always right.” But to be honest, I have never laughed harder this season than I did when Flo delivered her best marital advice to Hannah: “Someday, you will look at him–hating him with every fiber of your being–wishing he would die the most violent death possible. It will pass.” Clearly a contender for my favorite quote this episode.
Alex: Yes, absolutely. I couldn’t type it because I couldn’t remember it and didn’t want to butcher it. June Squibb is an excellent actress and she showed it in a quick 30 minutes this week. I also loved Hannah and Flo’s first exchange. When Flo says she has pneumonia, Hannah says “Fuck” under her breath and I thought it was a hilarious. She begins to explain how she had pneumonia as a child and Flo is like, “It’s not the same.” A lot of good lines this week. I also enjoyed the Dane-is-a-sexy-name thing, only because I have a cousin named Dane. I’m sure he’d appreciate that Lena thinks he has a sexy name. Did you enjoy Loreen, Sissy and Margot’s divvying of the medication as much as I did? Also, the subtle Sissy Spacek reference?
Shelby: Yup, I caught it all. There were many laughs to be had in this episode–not just with the older women in Hannah’s family, but also with young Rebecca. I didn’t even know how to handle her, ragging on Hannah one second and then asking her to go get a drink the next. And Rebecca didn’t even drink! She just thought that’s where “someone like Hannah” would hang out. I was rolling at every exchange between these two girls.
Alex: Until next week?
Shelby: Until next week.