Girls Review: “Tad & Loreen & Avi & Shanaz”

(Episode 4.08)

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<i>Girls</i> Review: &#8220;Tad & Loreen & Avi & Shanaz&#8221;

Remember that time in Girls’ first season when Elijah got super mad at Hannah, stormed out of a bar and said “Nice to see you. Your dad is gay”?

I do too. Elijah had just come out to Hannah, who sobbed at the detail. It was a middle finger in know-it-all Hannah’s face when she was determined to get the last word in the Battle of Who Gave Hannah HPV. And for a few seasons, the line stuck with me. What if Elijah’s gaydar was that in-tune? Like, to the point where he can call out a man committed in a decades-long marriage? That would be a crazy coincidence, right? Certainly Girls wouldn’t wait three seasons to bring this information to light, right? But in Hannah’s father’s case, this was information he’d been hiding his whole life.

Another three years. What’s that when you’ve lived through half a century of hiding?

So, yes, Hannah’s father’s homosexuality was unexpected. But no, it’s not a coincidence. Elijah sensed that Hannah’s dad was gay because Hannah’s dad… is gay. And it explains some things about his appearance earlier this season—that “business trip” where he urged Hannah to escape, just him and her. Hannah’s mother is oddly missing from the equation. That pressing speech he gave, where he urges Hannah to make the right choice for her. That’s kind of heartbreaking now, right? After all, the pieces there in front of us, and still it hit me to hear Loreen Horvath spout those lines into the phone after Hannah went on an I-can’t-even-remember-what-about rant: “Hannah, your father is gay.”

Fuck, man. Fuck. Fuuuck.

That scene, though. It was weird how much it snapped an otherwise aimless episode into place in a minute. Up until that moment, I wondered: why do Tad and Loreen get solo screentime? Hell, why are their names in the title? It’s such a foreign thing in the Girls world, to worry about what’s going on in the parents’ lives. Don’t they just read? Play Jenga when things really steam up? But as tall as some of Hannah’s tales have been in her life, nothing can really compare to what was just placed upon her. This event is devastating for all parties involved. Clearly Loreen, whose life has been deemed one big lie. Clearly Tad, who is trying to comfort a woman he loves in a deep way. And Hannah—good lord, I’m just happy this episode cut off before she had time to react. It’s a reminder that these habits that Hannah is grappling with, the same ones that Fran reminds her of early in the episode, can have long, unexpected repercussions later in life.

“Tad & Loreen & Avi & Shanaz” showed deception in three points of a relationship. The very beginning—literally, a first date between Shosh and her tech-startup crush. The beginning of a serious commitment—Marnie’s gag-worthy engagement to Desi. The end: Hannah’s father coming out to her mother, thus marking the end of what seemed like a lifelong commitment. Shosh’s storyline takes off at the genesis of a lie—well, not really a lie. An omission of truth. When her date implies he’s looking for an equally ambitious partner—and not someone who does things like buy $17,000 couches, because who, like, literally, would ever even want to do that?—she turns to the absolute weirdest, most mechanical dirty talk I have seen on television. Really, Shosh’s idea of erotic literature must be Ayn Rand’s libido-murdering prose in The Fountainhead. Dear lord.

But back to my main point. Marnie, on the other hand, plays the role of the blissful-yet-ignorant partner. Her partner Desi has been red flags all along, from his late-night bawling reunion with Marnie, to his $2,000 guitar pedal purchase to get the “My Bloody Valentine sound.” Sidebar, Desi: that shit requires like four Marshall stacks and a Fender Jazzmaster, too. (You can read my review of My Bloody Valentine’s m b v here)

Where was I? It’s so easy to get worked up with those two. Oh—right. After all of this, they’re getting engaged. It’s a textbook bad call from everything we know about the guy. It’s a textbook bad call from everything we know about Marnie, really. But the two are plotting the rest of their lives based upon a feeling Desi had one morning. I hope there won’t be huge consequences. Like, what would that scenario look like?

Oh—right. Tad & Loreen & Avi & Shanaz’s dinner party. Loreen, even with her midwest curtness factored in, is surprisingly awful to Tad all episode. He picks the wrong wine. His toast for her tenure is shit. And for the course of the episode, my senses are just telling me the Girls writers are using this storyline to counterbalance these young-love beginnings. But the alternative is just so rough.

Let’s look at it this way. Hannah’s father is in his mid-50s, possibly early 60s. Meaning when he was developing into a sexually aware adult, it was not during a time when he could have realistically—depending on where in the U.S. he lived—come out without repercussions. We don’t know Tad’s side of the family well. We don’t know his history, so it’s an interesting, appropriate scenario for the Girls team to tackle in 2015 because this really happens in 2015. That’s what makes the situation so complicated, so rough. In this situation, powerful. Hannah’s father is a man who clearly cares about his family. Despite his sexual orientation, he clearly cares about his wife. He’s solidified these bonds in maybe every way other than sexual—but if you remember Tad and Loreen’s anniversary night, even that side was being fulfilled. But he presumably went into the relationship on a rocky foundation—looking at you, Shosh and Marnie—and poof. Everyone’s life changes in the course of a few minutes.

I feel for Loreen, and Becky Ann Baker did such a great job displaying the confusion, frustration, resentment of trying to move on with everyday life in the face of this discovery. And Peter Scolari kind of gets points in the long-run for creating a character who, once the declaration is made, you believe him. His frustration and confusion is a whole different beast. Maybe Loreen was duped into living a false life, but Tad actively wore a mask for decades. This is normally part of the review where I scream. Maybe where I label Tad selfish, I call him out on this life-changing thing. But really, it’s just sad for everyone involved. It’s not a death in the family, but as far as high drama goes, it’ll come close with the Horvaths. But with Hannah on some sort of stable path, it’ll be interesting to see how it holds in the face of family crisis.

Tyler is a writer at Paste. His only experience with Girls comes thanks to HBO. You can follow him on Twitter.