Girls Recap: Parents Just Don’t Understand
10:30 am, February 25th | by Sarah Devlin
Lena Dunham has created a very ambitious second season for her show this year, zooming in on unexpected characters and setting whole episodes in unfamiliar locations, trusting her audience to follow along. I’m not sure who will like this episode and who won’t, but for my part it felt like a bit of a stretch. Dunham has been writing for all sorts of characters this season — the mysterious doctor, Ray and Adam on their mission to Staten Island, and now Jessa’s father and girlfriend — and though I can understand why she wants to experiment with different voices, I wonder if she’s as adept at capturing the essence of a deadbeat middle-aged British estranged father as she is, say, a spoiled Midwestern Oberlin grad.
Hannah is accompanying Jessa to upstate New York, whose sun and summer foliage were very hard to look at during this dreary winter month, in order to pay a visit to her father (Jessa got what was very likely a butt-text from him and took it as “a sign”). He lives in a ramshackle white country house with his hippie-dippy girlfriend and her awkward son, butchering rabbits for dinner and going to lectures in the evening most days. Jessa seems to be vibrating with fear and resentment from the moment she gets there, loosening up only when she and Hannah go joy riding with Awkward Teenage Son and his Handsome Blonde Friend. When too many whippets and a 40-ounce of malt liquor lead to some reckless driving, Hannah demands to be let out of the car and stomps off into a graveyard.
Awkward Teenage Son follows her and they very quickly begin to have sex (which can’t help with the UTI Hannah has been suffering from all episode), which Jessa finds horrifying when Hannah tells her about it. Jessa and her father try to have a heart to heart the next day, but it seems that the patterns of abandonment and resentment have been etched too deeply into their relationship for there to be any meaningful change. Hannah tries to relate to Jessa with her own tales of parental woe, but she’s very quickly rebuffed.
The girls are dropped off at the local market by Jessa’s father, who promises to return; he doesn’t (although when Hannah suggests calling his or his girlfriend’s cell phone Jessa reacts as though that would be letting the terrorists win). Back at the house Hannah is all packed up and calling for Jessa, until she discovers a note indicating that she’s already left. Like father, like daughter? That felt rather on the nose.
On the way home Hannah stops to call her parents to tell them how much she loves and appreciates them, which immediately makes her mother suspicious. They also mention an upcoming trip to New York City, which will surely be interesting to watch unfold. She gets hung up on, leading to the final shot of her her squatting next to the train station (hopefully she will get herself some antibiotics when she gets back to the city).
I didn’t love this episode, but I did love the country scenery and the exaggerated Cockney (I think) banter between Jessa and her dad. What did you think?