by Jeremy Grossman
It’s strange that “Hannah’s Diary,” the fourth episode of “Girls,” spends so much time invested in Hannah’s “sexting” storyline, when in fact a much more interesting storyline is shoved to the side—Hannah finally having a job. For the first three episodes, the audience has followed Hannah as she’s struggled to find work and pay the rent, but now, without any build-up, she suddenly has a job. We don’t even know what the job is, or what she does, but we see her working at an office, as if the “tough economy” theme was all for nothing.
In fact, Hannah is at the center of several strange developments in this week’s episode, as we see that her new boss has been touching her inappropriately, and, according to her gossipy co-workers, is something that he does to all his female employees. This entire scenario comes off as unnatural in the year 2012, as if we’re supposed to believe that not a single female employee in this office has ever bothered to stand up for herself. Whatever kind of commentary Lena Dunham is trying to make on females in the workplace does not come clear at all, mostly due to the fact that the episode is much more interested in other things.
Like the drama about sexting. Hannah is woken in the middle of the night by her not-boyfriend Adam, who sends her a picture of his penis that was “supposed to be for someone else.” Who was supposed to receive this picture, if not Hannah? We never find out. But we do find out that Hannah is not pleased—she wants to be the only girl who gets to see Adam’s penis, though, ironically, shows the picture to everybody she talks to.
What this episode proves is that the show is more interested in Hannah’s love life than her career, which is a shame considering how awful of a person that Adam is. And while Adam is a funny character, albeit a major asshole, an entire episode of Hannah stressing over him just doesn’t work, as Hannah and Adam’s relationship doesn’t deserve to be taken seriously in the first place. Her dilemma over whether she sees Adam as a boyfriend or just a “friend with benefits” is such a mundane dilemma, especially when just one week ago Hannah was unable to pay the rent.
Fortunately, the other girls were involved in storylines that had much more at stake. Jessa, continuing her babysitting gig, had her confidence threatened upon losing her two children at the playground, with them finally being found by one of the other, more experienced nannies at the playground. Jemima Kirke has great chemistry with the two little girls she babysits, mostly because of how Kirke plays her character with such poise and nonchalance, which is such a major contrast from two bratty kids of whom it is her job to take care of. Jessa is much too confident for her own good, and this scare at the playground may have finally been the development necessary to make her realize that.
Shoshanna, in her first major storyline of the series thus far, runs into a boy she knew when they were both counselors at a summer camp. He quickly ends up at her apartment, where a scene of awkward movie watching immediately turns into a scene of awkward sex (which has become iconic for “Girls”). Of all the emotionally abusive relationships “Girls” has introduced, perhaps Shoshanna gets it the worst, as the boy ditches her upon learning that she is a virgin (he doesn’t have sex with virgins). It must have been relieving for Shoshanna, who is terrified of sex, but also incredibly disheartening to have been told that her virginity is something to be ashamed and embarrassed of.
Marnie doesn’t even have much of a presence in the episode, but her boyfriend Charlie certainly does. After snooping through Hannah’s diary, Charlie discovers something shocking that isn’t revealed until the end of the episode (through song, no less!). As revealed in the diary, Marnie is annoyed with Charlie, and Hannah thinks Marnie should date “a man with a penis” instead of “a man with a vagina.” Even though Marnie is barely in the episode, her one act of furiously throwing water all over Hannah may have been the best moment of the night. But hey, don’t blame Hannah—the truth was bound to come out sooner or later.
It’s unfortunate for Charlie that Marnie is so annoyed with him, considering that he is the only romantic interest on the show that is not an awful person. But love is tricky like that, in a terrible, ugly sort of way. With “Hannah’s Diary,” “Girls” continues to explore emotionally abusive relationships, ranging from tragic with Shoshanna to just plain goofy with Hannah. These unhealthy relationships are an important aspect of the show, as they explore what it means to love someone in this modern, technological age. But of course, there are other areas for “Girls” to explore more deeply, too, like the workplace environment (though it needs to be done realistically, and not in the strange way that this episode briefly brought it up). It’s certainly possible for these girls to have a life outside of boys and sex—just ask Mary Tyler Moore, who had no time for a boyfriend and didn’t even want one anyway.
Jeremy Grossman is entertainment editor. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.