“The Return” marks a very special occasion for Girls: the show’s first wiener! Or, wiener-area, I guess. I didn’t rewatch to make sure. As a diligent viewer, it probably came as no surprise that it belonged to Hannah’s unconscious father, who lay concussed on the bathroom floor having slipped during shower sex with his wife. “That is fully your wet butt,” Hannah sighs as she helps her frantic mother lift him up. Of all the humiliations the show has offered us, this is by far the most tender, the most real. Of course it is! Depicting the embarrassments we experience courtesy of our relatives is Lena Dunham’s jam.
Beside the male nudity, episode 6 is also the first episode without three or four continuous plotlines; we are focused exclusively on Hannah’s trip to her parents’ home for their 30th wedding anniversary. I imagine the other girls are living it up back in New York: Jessa perched astride Horatio Sanz’s face, Shoshanna masturbating to The Magnolia Bakery Cookbook: Old-Fashioned Recipes From New York’s Sweetest Bakery, Marnie watching YouTube how-to videos of different kinds of chignons while hot tears of isolation stream down her cheeks. Or they’re all dead. There’s no way to know! We’re in Lansing now!
I’d be lying if a significant portion of my Girls viewing experience doesn’t have me silently screaming, “SOMEONE CONTEXTUALIZE THIS FOR ME. IS HANNAH INSANE? DOES SHE HAVE PROBLEMS? ARE THEY MY PROBLEMS? IF THEY AREN’T MY PROBLEMS, HOW CAN I UNDERSTAND THAT SEXTING JOKE? ” Just when I begin to wonder if Hannah is just an incorrigible psychopath, however, Dunham nails the familiar dynamics of home, a.k.a. being a cooze to your parents while their helpless love invades and suffocates you like the pink ooze from Ghostbusters II. Hannah’s piss-poor attitude is as spot-on as her garbage bag suitcase, both filled with the humiliating knowledge that she will have to ask her parents for money now that she is unemployed again. While Marnie texts her reminders about the rent (okay, so Marnie isn’t dead, for sure), Hannah pigs out with the fridge door open. We all do it, since our parents have food when we visit . . . oh, and because we’re are trying to dull the panic rising inside us at the thought of financial obligations and crushing disappointment.
Sent out by her mother who was experiencing hot flashes so severe she was apparently unable to operate a motor vehicle, Hannah stops by the coffee shop to say to her high school buddy Heather . . . and to find out about the disappearance of mutual acquaintance Carrie. “Bitch is going to stay at the resort then!,” Heather says, detailing Carrie’s presumed abduction while on vacay. Even more distressing to Hannah than the presumed murder of another human being, however, is Heather’s sunny conviction that she’ll soon be hoofing it in L.A., performing in, god I don’t even know, Step Up: Desolation? “I know enough to know you don’t have to know anybody, you know?,” Heather enthuses. Do you think something terrible got into the water in this town? If so, where can it be legally obtained?
While picking up her mom’s meds, Hannah flirts with a pharmacist named Eric or, based on his celebrity resemblance, Manly Clay Aiken. Eric slips Hannah some free pantyhose and lube for her mom (haha, dating!) before asking her out, which requires Hannah ditch her parents’ anniversary dinner. “I need to learn what it’s like to be treated well before it’s too late for me,” she warns them, to which they immediately agree. The major plus to this week’s extra focus on Hannah is the freedom to include scenes like her delightful getting-ready pep talk. “You are from New York so you are naturally interesting,” she psyches herself in the mirror, before putting on what looks like a human-sized puppet dress. “The worst stuff that you say sounds better than the best stuff some people say.”
After pizza but before their inevitable lovemaking, Eric and Hannah stop by a benefit held in Carrie’s honor, where Heather’s Sparklemotion Beta team twerks a memorial dance set to Keri Hilson’s “Pretty Girl” rock. As she drives around with Eric afterward, I presumed Hannah was about to critique the distastefulness of a golden booty short number at a memorial service, either because I have an obsessive need for these characters to not be assholes or because I have a hard time feeling out the tone of this show. Or both. “You didn’t think that was like, really delusional?,” Hannah sniffs. “The dancing?” She then goes on to scoff at the quality of the dancing and not, of course, how they were grinding in honor of a poor dead woman. Haha, got me again you guys!
Across town Mammy and Pappy Horvath are fretting over the fate of their baby girl, while simultaneously confirming that they are more than a little nuts. “I cut her off so she’d have something to write about, ” Hannah’s mother says defensively. Whaaaa? Sure, okay. Interestingly, while Hannah’s dad suspects that it’s only a matter of time before his daughter’s dreams are crushed, his wife is convinced that Hannah’s writing career is solidly constructed from her personal experiences. “She thinks about that fun and she learns from that fun,” she explains. I guess that unnecessary abortion appointment was pretty fun, comparatively!
Hannah and Eric eventually find themselves back at his apartment for a little romantic interlude, and the sex is . . . pretty hot. JK! It sucks like all the other sex. “Please don’t put your finger in my asshole,” Eric snaps when Hannah’s hand breeches the two-foot radius around his butt. But after the emotional brutality of Charlie’s mid-hump heartbreak, it’s hard to get too worked up about a one-night stand, shitty or not. If Hannah doesn’t care about these dudes, I ain’t caring about ’em. I don’t have the spare emotional memory.
Speaking of emotions and being inexplicably slack-jawed, Adam is doing the bare minimum to stay in Hannah’s life, calling her back after she dialed and hung up on him multiple times. Inspired by Carrie’s disappearance (I guess?), Hannah reveals to Adam that she realized she would never know if he suddenly disappeared, and they chat as she saunters around the lawn in her nightgown. Aw man, now they’re buddies? If there was just anything to make Adam remotely likeable or interesting or less of a mouth-breather, I’d be able to deal with the fact that he is still around. I guess that’s how unrequited affection is. The other person doesn’t disappear in a firework of tragedy and rage; they just . . . keep on hanging out.
The jump from Hannah’s distressing, mirthless fucking to her parents’ giggly anniversary doggie-style seemed particularly pointed, right? Is this a hopeful projection of the future? A sly acknowledgement of the show’s myopic focus on the comic tragedies of youth? An excuse for her dad to fall down and wrench his back, thus forcing Hannah to see her parents as naked, wriggly humans? Ah, but let it be all three! “Of course you’re embarrassed, because this is embarrassing for everyone involved,” Hannah murmurs as she helps scoop up her soggy pop. I’m pretty sure my face would melt off, Raiders of The Lost Ark-style, if I saw my dad naked, so the Horvaths hold it down pretty well, considering. After tucking him in bed, Hannah’s mom lets her cheery motherly demeanor slip for a moment. “I just mention jobs around here because I miss you,” she admits, before asking Hannah if she needed any money. Hannah smiles and says she’s fine. What is this now? Pride? Garbage bag suitcases and squirrel skin dick pics are one thing, but seeing your naked dad comatose on the floor? We all have to grow up sometime. Plus, it’ll be a make for a great essay!
Previously: Don’t Abandon Me