A review of tonight's “Girls” coming up just as soon as I know where to find battery acid…
Midway through “Tad & Loreen & Avi & Shanaz”(*), Hannah tries to mend things with Fran after last week's fiasco by telling him that she's not the person he thinks he is. He tells her, “I think you're not the person you think you are. I think that's where the confusion is.”
(*) The title's a play on “Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice,” the 1969 Paul Mazursky film about two couples who eventually all wind up in bed together. I suspect it is a movie Avi has watched many times, and possibly has this photo somewhere in his office.
Fran seems a perfectly rational, well-adjusted person, which means he can not be long for this show, but can provide temporary value in calling out Hannah on her crap. In this case, though, his advice applies to most of the ensemble, not to mention the “Girls” character auxiliary out in Michigan, where we find out the truth about why Tad was in such a state when he visited Hannah at school.
No, he's not dying, despite throwaway references to his health in earlier seasons. Instead, he seemed eager for Hannah to embrace what made her happy, regardless of what other people thought, because he was finally, at a very late age, getting ready to come out of the closet.
Now on the one hand, spending so much time on Hannah's parents meant an even more diffuse focus in a season that's had trouble keeping emotional track of everyone. On the other, when you have Becky Ann Baker and Peter Scolari handy – not to mention the stentorian Fred Melamed(**) as a guest star – you should take advantage of that. And the two actors, working with a Dunham/Konner script and director Jamie Babbitt, wrung every bit of pathos and uncomfortable humor out of the situation the two long-time spouses find themselves in in light of this new truth. Loreen's incredulous, hysterical laughter in response to Tad's adoring toast was wonderful, as was her boiled-over frustration as Hannah kept rambling on the phone in the episode's closing moments.
(**) Sy Ableman?
Tad coming out paralleled not only what Hannah has been going through since she realized she may not be good enough to write professionally – and since her relationship with Adam disintegrated because they never talked about what would happen while she was in Iowa – but what she and some of the other regulars were dealing with this week. It's a whole half hour of identity crises and uncomfortable declarations.
So Marnie sees an unflattering side of Desi when he spends their entire record company advance on a set of German guitar pedals that isn't even necessary for the sound their band has now. (You can assume She & Him does not use those pedals.) When Marnie Michaels calls out someone else for self-involvement, it's a real indictment, and the end result of him proposing to her gives us an engaged couple who are made for each other in all of the most annoying ways. Well-done, you two.
Shosh mostly does well on her date with Scott, in part because they bond over telling stories about their exes – shortly after hearing Ray admit that he's still not over Marnie, much as he knows that he should be. But when it comes time for her to deploy Jessa's advice about showing him “an act of love when he least expects it,” she turns out to be awful at talking dirty. Fortunately, she gets away with it because she's so endearing in her reaction to seeing Josh Charles with “The Good Wife” cast at the bar.
And as for Hannah herself, she spends much of the episode acting less like a (substitute) high school teacher than like she's back in school as a student, joking and laughing with her new pal Cleo, then turning out to be a very bad friend when she talks Cleo into getting her frenulum pierced and chickening out when it's her turn. In an episode with a lot of competition for Worst Person on “Girls” This Week, Hannah puts in a strong showing there.
It's a funny scene, in a funny episode. The season's been disjointed in spots, but since Hannah came back from Iowa, it's also worked very well on a pure comic level. And with Hannah learning the truth about her father, I expect more hilarity may ensue.
What did everybody else think?