Girls: “Iowa” Season 4 Episode 1 Review

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Back in 2012, Girls premiered as a product of the recession. There was almost an excuse for how unsuccessful the characters were, a feeling that even if they tried harder, they wouldn’t be in much better positions. That’s how times were back then, but times change.

Girls has had a bit of a bumpy road identifying itself in the postrecession years. Hannah jumped from an unpaid intern to writing an e-book. Marnie quit the art world, where she was nothing more than a glorified secretary, to embark on a singing career. Adam stopped, uh, woodworking(?) to pursue acting. Oddly enough, and despite themselves, they’ve all found varying degrees of success, but success nonetheless.

Season 4 starts with Hannah packing to go to the most prestigious writing graduate school in the country while Adam does goofy depression pill commercials. The characters of Girls are moving from nobodies to somebodies, which can be pretty jarring and, frankly, a little sitcom-y.

This series, once the most talked about show on TV, hardly gets the headlines it used to. That’s partially because the shock factor of the sex scenes is gone and partially that Adam’s commercial is virtually no different from Joey’s classic milk carton infomercial on Friends. Season 3 of Girls sort of created a comfort zone for the show in that it didn’t really have to be more than an updated, more raw version of Friends with three fewer cameras. Based on Iowa, that trend looks to continue.

Sure, it’s a daring move to put Hannah halfway across the country, but considering how little the main cast really interacts with each other, the show may not feel all that different in the long-run.

So, we have to ask ourselves, is Girls slowly finding a common resting place not too different from Friends a bad thing? Absolutely not. There are moments scattered throughout Iowa that indicate Lena Dunham and her writing team have lost none of their abilities in writing these characters interpersonal relationships as realistically as they can be in this medium. For example, Jessa’s rant at Hannah in the bathroom feels partially justified. Jessa has been through the ringer since she moved back to New York, but always had Hannah to crawl into the bathtub with to feel better. There is a sense of abandonment here, but it feels equally as real as when Marnie shows up on the morning of Hannah’s move with two cups of coffee. Hannah has very different friendships with Jessa and Marnie, but both are sad to see her go.

But it’s Adam, getting not even as much as a goodbye from his girlfriend, who is the most abandoned. You can see it on his face the entire episode, up to that final shot of him looking out the window. We feel for him, but we understand Hannah, even if we’re angry at her. That’s the majesty of Girls, it’s ability to infuse us with so much sorrow and hate inbetween genuine love and friendship. So we can sit here all day criticizing the fact that Hannah’s apartment is in too nice of a neighborhood for her to afford, but when it comes down to it, Girls continues to nail the emotions you feel in your 20s regarding your career, friends, and love life. Hannah’s journey in Iowa will likely be fascinating to watch as she will be tested in ways the show hasn’t explored yet that this age group can relate to. After this premiere, I am optimistic about the fourth season. Grade: B+

Some Other Notes:

– We met Shoshanna’s parents, who were perfect. Dunham continues to illustrate that she has a very solid idea of where these characters came from.

– This season feels like a fresh start for Jessa after her arc got muddled last year. Jemima Kirke continues to knock it out of the park, so I’m down to see where her story goes.

– Andrew Rannells makes the transition from recurring to regular this season as Elijah. If he keeps getting lines like, “If we lived anywhere else, I wouldn’t have to worry about seeing him, because he would’ve already killed himself for being so small and gay,” Girls will be all the better for it.

– Alex Karpovksy continues his wildly inconsistent performance as Ray. It’s sad because Zosia Mamet nailed Shosh’s scene with Ray, while Karpovsky looks so uncomfortable to be in front of a camera again.

– The more Rita Wilson as Marnie’s mother, the better.

 

By Matt Dougherty

 

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