In the unsaid battle for the she-with-least-empathy award, Hannah unsuspectingly takes the crown this week. Although Girls has brought us through some heavy territory, it hasn’t really tackled death head-on, and in this third season, we get our first taste of how our lead handles tragedy. Remember David, Hannah’s ever-young (in spirit), Grindr-utilizing editor who took on Ray in a barroom brawl this season?
Yeah, he’s dead.
As Hannah finds out in the waiting room of his office, which is reeling from the loss of their leader, David’s left this physical plane and moved on to another. His next storyline, we’re not sure: That would be what we in the industry like to call a life spoiler. For Hannah’s loud-mouthed, flamboyant editor, it’s also not like a died-peacefully-in-his-sleep or yes-he-had-cancer-we’d-seen-this-coming-for-a-while kind of death. No, they found David face-down in the friggin’ Hudson river (maybe from a Grindr encounter gone wrong?), and poor Hannah is left to put together the pieces of her own ebook hopes and dreams.
But let’s backtrack here to the moment when Hannah first makes this discovery. Last week, maybe I was a little too hard on Marnie. Sure, her behavior was beyond cringe-inducing, but compared to this week, Marnie’s comparable to Kate Middleton on her first dinner date with the ol’ in-law. Hannah’s in the waiting room of David’s office, and his flustered secretary is trying to piece together the details and tell her peers what exactly is going on. Hannah, oblivious to the fact that we live on a planet that rotates around the sun, begins asking questions about her ebook—will it ever be published? What does this mean for my ebook? Like, Hannah, can you be for real for a second? You were just late to your own meeting and now you’re asking an office, in crisis due to the loss of the head figure, what’s going on with your stupid ebook. Other than your temporary hopes and dreams, something actually died here—you’ll bounce back. I might suggest that Hannah dyes her hair red and starts referring to her figure as “angular” in future episodes.
Hannah’s empathy issues only get worse in conversation with Adam, who rightfully calls Hannah out after she retells the tale of David’s tragic demise from the colorful, Bukowski-selfish “whatever will happen to by ebook?!” angle. And as abrasive as Adam can be, he’s proved that caring for others is one of his strong suits for those who have his trust. He calmed and raised the spirits of a relationship-mourning Marnie and shut out his truly dysfunctional sister before the crew was exposed to her awfulness. Compared to many characters on Girls, awkward Adam is … healthy? So, maybe Hannah feels a little bit guilty here when she spells out “David’s dead” with just the letters “m” and “e.” Jessa isn’t a whole lot of help reinforcing the side of: hey, Hannah, you’re being a little ridiculous—to Jessa, death “happens,” and it’s less earth-shattering. It’s like jury duty or a surprise thunderstorm or slipping, falling and going down on one of your peers in rehab.
But, as Girls often does, Lena Dunham and company take this uncomfortable feeling a step further, making my creepy crawlies manifest in some awkward symphony of foot stomps and high-pitched “ehh…”s that my neighbors must have just loved. I hated the scene between Caroline, Hannah and Laird at the graveyard, where Caroline feeds Hannah some bullshit tale of Adam taking their sick cousin to a dance before she died. Because of her cousin’s disease, Hannah asks if the mention of a “tiny dress” was because of her illness or just because she was young. Meanwhile Laird, my favorite character in this scene, is bawling his eyes out. Caroline fesses up that her story was a big old pile of crap, is amazed that Hannah was barely moved and tries to calm a sobbing, Laird, who has the best line in the whole episode: “Just because it isn’t real doesn’t mean I don’t feel it.” Instead of writing, maybe Hannah should go into, say, architecture or steel work
Anyway, Hannah takes the last bit of the episode to have an earnest conversation with Adam—well, almost. She discusses that it takes her a while to process her feelings while shedding what looks like for-real, genuine tears. That’s great—this is healthy, Hannah. I really think we’re getting somewhere. But after that, she dives into this story…about her…and her young, sick cousin, who just wants to go to the dance. At this point, I’m reeling. I’m walk-in-on-your-significant-other-with-your-sibling upset at Hannah right now.
I get that she wants some sympathy. And maybe in the short-term, she wants Adam to think that she can be as sensitive as him. But let’s break this down: Adam hates his sister because she’s batshit crazy and does insane things. Adam does not want his sister in his life. Adam is upset with Hannah because of her lack of empathy, and values real interactions over fake projections of relationships. Hannah hasn’t shown much sympathy over the whole David thing. Hannah takes the crazy thing Caroline said, uses it to her advantage to manipulate Adam into feeling bad for her.
With Adam’s sister still in the picture, I feel like this can’t end well. Adam can take a lot, this is true, but if he catches a glimmer of his sister in Hannah, especially over a lie like this, I think it might be the end of their relationship. This ending was ugly, dishonest and frankly, a place I didn’t see the show going. I can get on-board with Hannah being oblivious to others’ sensitivities—she’s still young, but this act made me go from being sort-of sympathetic to ENRAGED within seconds—but this sort of desperation? This is ugly. Especially with someone Hannah just shared a true, genuine moment with. It’s good Girls and I get to take a one-week break from each other, because I’m maaaad.
But in a world where many episodes leave me wondering if I’ll tune in next week, how can this be a bad thing?