Review: ‘Girls’ – ‘Female Author’

A review of tonight's “Girls” coming up just as soon as I Google the one month where Woody Harrelson and Glenn Close were a couple…

For the longest time, “Female Author” plays like it's going to be the inverse of last week's “Triggering,” with a brief Skype glimpse of Hannah and Elijah in Iowa before we get to catch up with everybody back in New York. In the end, we get a fair amount of Hannah time – including another long, mortifying indication of how badly she's fitting into her workshop – even if the episode is more about the struggles her friends are going through in her absence.

It's not that Hannah was the glue who held the group together – she's too busy dealing with her own problems to fulfill that role – but she definitely formed a bridge between several of them who otherwise might not know or care for each other. And with Hannah out of town, the other Girls are each exhibiting the kind of self-destructive behavior of which we know they're capable, but which also seems like an unconscious way to fill the void she left behind.

So Adam and Jessa have now started going to AA meetings together, and for a moment or two I wondered if even Jessa might stoop low enough to try to sleep with Adam. Instead, she gets him into trouble with the law(*) when she urinates in public (because rules have never applied to Jessa, as far as she's concerned), but in the aftermath of their arrest, she admits just how badly she could use a friend. Adam's not Hannah – in ways both good and bad – but he's the best option she has at the moment. It's a level of vulnerability and self-awareness that the other two Brooklyn-based Girls are unable to display this week.

(*) I imagine a season or two from now getting a scene where Adam has gotten arrested again and his exasperated public defender reads the looooong list of minor, weird crimes he's been charged with over the years.

If Hannah were around, Marnie would have likely gone to her for advice on Desi, rather than turning to Ray for both insight and then sex. (And Ray's principles about not wanting to be with someone who treated him as badly as Marnie did didn't hold up very well when she was throwing herself at him again, did they?) But Hannah certainly couldn't have prevented that trainwreck at the record label – an uncomfortable scene even by “Girls” standards – nor would she have been able to do much about Marnie's incredibly high opinion of herself, which leads her to say loathsome, narcissistic things like “I'm not supposed to be someone's mistress.”

Also with an unhealthy sense of self: Shoshana, who not only throws away a perfectly good job offer, but does it in a way that will forever burn the bridge should she need to try it again in the future. If you want to waste someone's time with a trial interview, Shosh, you don't tell them about it

As for Hannah, there's that unavoidable issue whenever a TV show sends its central character off on a new adventure that's far away from all the other characters: the audience becomes keenly aware that this is only a temporary thing, and the only question becomes how, and how quickly, they'll wind up going home. (See also Coach Taylor at TMU, or Jim at the Stamford branch of Dunder-Mifflin.) Given that the show is often at its strongest when it focuses entirely on Hannah, I could see a version of “Girls” where she stayed in Iowa and we got a whole new cast of supporting characters. But that's not what's happening here, and so Hannah's struggles at Iowa, while matching what we know about her and her difficulty fitting in anywhere, also feel like something the show is doing because it has to – a conventional TV narrative turn on a series that tends to do its own thing.

What did everybody else think?