Girls 4×04 ‘Cubbies’: No right choice

Girls 4x04 Cover

Change is inevitable.  No matter what choices we make in life, the world moves on, and the people around us move on as well.  We can never stand in one place, even if it scares us to move forward.  We’re constantly moving, constantly evolving, and we have to make choices that scare us, even if we don’t want to.  We’ll never find peace in our lives, not the true peace that many of us reach for, because life is unpredictable.  Life is unexpected events.  Life is success and failure and happiness and disappointment.  And growing up is understanding what life is, what we have to do to navigate it, what it means to live in this world.

Girls 4x04-4

Source: HBO

“Cubbies” is a big episode for this season because it takes us from the season’s first act to its second.  Hannah finally leaves Iowa and gives up on her program, not because she has failed as a writer, but because she simply doesn’t fit in there.  She wants to find her niche, her place in the world, and Iowa just brings her anxiety and discontent.  But why does Iowa do that to her?  Hannah wants to bring authenticity to her writing; she wants to create meaningful work.  But the Iowa Writer’s Workshop isn’t doing that for her.  Everybody is criticizing each other without really providing the kind of feedback that creates meaningful work.  Not to mention that nobody there really knows how to create meaningful work.

Girls 4x04-1

Source: HBO

Back in New York, everybody is still trying to find avenues to engage in things that are meaningful.  Ray cannot stand the cars outside of his apartment, so he ends up screaming at people to be quiet.  But Shoshanna, who he spends a great deal of time with during the episode, tells him to take it up with city council or something.  She wants him to actually enact change, even if it is just change meant to benefit himself.  Because Shoshanna has grown a great deal over the course of the series, where she understands what really happened to their relationship and even takes responsibility for some of the turmoil within it.  And Ray sees that change within her, which helps him take her words of advice to heart.  Neither Ray nor Shoshanna may be engaging in meaningful work right now, but there is meaning in helping those around you.  And Ray and Shoshanna are there to help each other grow into people that can engage in meaningful work.

Girls 4x04-3

Source: HBO

Marnie, on the other hand, is still spiraling from her relationship with Desi (who is still terribly manipulative and awful).  She wants him all to herself, but he’s still in a relationship with Clementine and she’s still his “mistress”.  But the big moment for them comes at the end of the episode, when he ends up at her door because Clementine dumped him after he admitted to the affair (Desi may say that he dumped her, but it’s obvious he’s lying).  It’s a great moment because we can see the plethora of reactions that Marnie has to having Desi all to herself.  She may end up smiling as he sobs and holds her to him, but before that she seems distressed.  Even if she’s now with Desi, she’s still with a cheater on the losing end of a relationship.  She’s with a loser.  And while she is on the right path because she’s pursuing music in her life (even if that music isn’t very good), Desi is just going to keep derailing her with his personal drama and manipulation.  Because the only reason he’s clinging so hard to her is that she’s all he has left.  And she has to know that, to some degree.

Girls 4x04-5

Source: HBO

One of my favorite scenes of the episode is where Hannah ends up “workshopping” her apology letter with her classmates.  It’s certainly the most humorous scene of the episode (my favorite line of the episode goes to the student wanting to workshop his story about a robot horse…that’s right, a robot horse), but more than that, it’s a reminder of just how Hannah just doesn’t fit in.  While those around her are trying to improve as writers, they’re also extremely defensive, condescending, and don’t really know how to write about anything meaningful as well.  But it’s not as if Hannah is really that different.  She’s condescending and defensive in her apology letter.  She doesn’t know how to write about things that are meaningful (a story about buying Thin Mints doesn’t really cut it).  But she’s unable to make that kind of judgment call about herself.  She’s unable to realize that she could fit in if she really tried.

Girls 4x04-2

Source: HBO

So when she returns to New York City, we can see why, as she doesn’t fit in very well, but we can also see how she’s giving up.  She could have benefited greatly from the Writer’s Workshop.  But it just wasn’t right for her at the time, which is what her father basically said to her.  Sometimes the worst decisions are the right ones for you at the time.  Hannah wasn’t ready for the Writer’s Workshop, so her move back to New York City felt like the right one at the time.  But when she gets back to New York City, she sees that Adam has a new girlfriend, Mimi-Rose.  It’s the closest Girls has ever come to a cliffhanger, and it’s an absolutely devastating one considering what Hannah is giving up to come back to New York City and Adam.

But that’s what happens when you move on.  Other people move on as well.  Hannah may be devastated to know that Adam has found another girlfriend, but think back to her conversation with the crying girl in “Triggering”.  Hannah urged her to sleep with another guy to get back at her boyfriend.  This is the same Hannah that expects the world to cater to whatever path she chooses to take.  And when the world shifts under her feet, when she comes back to New York to realize that everything is different, Hannah needs to realize that things happened as they’re going to.  She came back to New York for a reason.  And even if Adam is with another girl, she’s still there to grow, to do something.  She just has to keep going.

What did you think of “Cubbies”?  Are you as upset by the cliffhanger as I am?  Let me know in the comments!

Michael St. Charles

is just a Michigan State University grad who loves a good story. If he’s not off teaching the young ones how to solve quadratic functions or to write an expository essay, he’s watching old-school HBO shows, indie horror movies, or he’s playing Resident Evil 4.

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