Like most Girls viewers, the final five minutes of last week’s episode had me doing spit-takes.
Discovering that Hannah’s dad was gay was a throwback—way back to Season One—based on something Elijah said in the heat of a fight with Hannah. That realization not only made us reconsider our perspective on Tad Horvath, a character we thought we understood, it forced a new perspective on everyone else’s relationship by hastily adding a connecting thread through an episode that seemed otherwise pointless—which makes the whole writing process sound hurried and sloppy, but it wasn’t. More than anything, I was impressed with how much was pulled together in those last few minutes—the shred of uncertainty added to every relationship within the show. And with our ninth episode (this season’s second-to-last), it might have been foolish to think lightning could strike twice.
Because the ninth episode was a mess.
It picks up in the aftermath of Tad Horvath’s announcement, which sees the recently outed father having brunch with his daughter. The looming idea of this episode, shudderingly titled “Daddy Issues,” lies within another tried-and-tried-and-tried-and-true Girls theme: maybe age ain’t nothin’ but a number, but true adulthood is determined by action. And for all the reality that’s been dealt to Hannah in Season Four, they’re still out to question, really, whether she’s approaching something that resembles maturity.
And in “Daddy Issues,” there’s a good case for Adult Hannah. For starters, just look at how she acts in contrast with her bickering parents.
I was reluctant to tune in this week, mostly based on watching Hannah’s reaction to this situation alone. But as she so maturely stated to her parents, this isn’t about her. I mean, sure, there’s the whole part about her familial structure crumbling. But as she calmly remarks, “This is about you guys.” But they’re not having it.
Hannah’s dad repeatedly calls her a child at brunch. Her mom has a totally free pass-worthy phone meltdown about her dad’s penis-focused hopes and desires for his own mouth. Basically, Hannah hears more sentences with the words “dad” and “dick” than any child should have to hear. But I think there’s significance in painting Tad and Loreen this way. At least it feels like it. Because, as appalling as our characters have acted over the past four seasons, I think the creators are trying to make the connection that, whether we like it or not, this stuff tends to follow for a lifetime.
And what a sad way to handle Tad. Really—I think the writers haven’t been super kind to this character. He goes from being a goofy dad’s dad in one episode to a guy who’s going shopping with Elijah, being called “daddy” and telling his daughter about dry humping a dude back in college. It’s as if they used this opportunity not to make Tad’s situation real—because his remorse and the consequences, aside from Loreen’s meltdown, don’t feel real—but to turn him into one of the show’s many caricatures instead.
But there’s also a very, very good case for Not-So-Adult Hannah, shown by the friendship she’s trying to sustain with a high school girl (played by Judd Apatow’s daughter, Maude). There’s this sudden line-drawing for Hannah that’s frankly a little puzzling. Her current situation as a substitute isn’t painting her as a worried millenial anymore. And she’s not a careless late-teen partier. No—in this situation, Hannah’s a borderline pre-pubescent, gabbing high school student. And as theatrical as her actions can be, when did she turn into a spaghetti strap-wearing freshman? This storyline of Hannah befriending—and relying on—one of her high school students, then being told what boundaries are, has me pretty cold.
Then there’s Ray’s political campaign, which was so rushed and underdeveloped that when he wins—like, when coffee shop manager Ray who has very little going for him wins a campaign—it was hard to feel happy for him. He yelled about noise, he went to a city council meeting and yelled about noise some more. And now he’s working in local government. Way to go Ray. Pointless as it seems, his celebration dinner led to one of the more bummer scenes of the evening, where Marnie did what Marnie does. Not for the first, or second, but third time. She hijacked a microphone and announced her own marriage. And yeah, it made me cringe. But is having her announce these things at parties the only way to show that Marnie is oblivious and self-absorbed? This is basically an indisputable equation when there’s a big Girls gathering.
Marnie Gathering of No Less than 20 Microphone = Awkward Singing/Announcement/Language that Involves the Word “Treat.” Microphone me once, shame on you. Microphone me twice, shame on me. Microphone me three times, we’ll see if I’ll want to watch this show next season.
Oh, who am I kidding. Of course I will.
Daddy Issues,” right down to the premise behind the title, felt sloppy and careless with all of our characters involved. And while I’m willing to sit through some ridiculous situations if it feels right for our ladies, this is something completely different. And I’m hoping the Girls team reels it in before our final episode of the season.
Tyler is a writer at Paste. His only experience with Girls comes thanks to HBO. You can follow him on Twitter.