Girls 4×06 ‘Close Up’: New directions

Girls 4x06 Cover

Life, for many middle-class citizens of America, has a way of moving of its own accord for a long time.  You go to elementary school, you go to middle school, you go to high school.  You try to get good grades.  You try to pass your tests.  You try to get decent enough ACT or SAT scores to get into a good college.  You go to college and try to get good grades again.  You participate in sports or some club.  And then you graduate.  But what happens after that.  What direction does the world, does your parents, does anybody really give you?  The world has a way of pushing you through a system without any real care for how you end up at the end of it all.  And when you do get to the end, when you’re kicked off the bus with a “good luck” and a wave, there’s open fields ahead of you, no direction, no goals, nothing.

Girls 4x06-3

Source: HBO

Maybe that’s why I’m a little frustrated with this episode of Girls.  “Close Up” is giving us storylines that we know probably aren’t going to go anywhere, directions that aren’t going to blossom into anything major.  Hannah isn’t going to be a teacher for long.  Ray isn’t going to find a career in politics (though I’d buy that happening more than Hannah being a teacher).  And Adam isn’t going to stay with Mimi-Rose for much longer.  But I suppose that’s not the point.  The point is that these people are choosing a direction, are attempting to do something with themselves.  And that means something.

Girls 4x06-4

Source: HBO

The best of these three storylines is Adam’s, who has been pushed aside for a portion of the season to make space for Hannah.  He’s still with Mimi-Rose, only now he’s living in her apartment, getting used to a routine with her.  He makes meals for her, tucks her in after he wakes up, and basically does what it is that Adam does, where he makes women his projects because he doesn’t want to have to deal with himself.  But these women always let him down because they’re either too much of a project or they don’t want to be his project.  The big dilemma of the episode for him comes when Mimi-Rose gets an abortion without telling him, and while it’s a pretty terrible thing to do, the reason that Adam is angry is kind of terrible as well.  Mimi-Rose operates at a very independent level, and her body is hers, so the abortion was her decision.  Ultimately, it comes down to what she wants to do.  But Adam only wants to be a part of the conversation, to at least feel like he’s a part of the process that Mimi-Rose goes through as she has the abortion.  And he’s not entirely wrong.  He’s not entirely right either.

Girls 4x06-1

Source: HBO

But should Adam have to adapt his love for another person?  He certainly needs to grow to be a more independent and controlled person, as his rage is both frighteningly physical and immature.  But in order for his relationship with Mimi-Rose to work, he would have to operate at the same independent level as her.  And that’s just not who he is.  Even if Adam had the self-confidence to be independent, he’s the kind of person who wants to be embedded in another person.  And she isn’t.  But maybe Adam’s relationship with Mimi-Rose will lead him to something better later on.  His pursuit of her might make him independent enough to come back to Hannah, or to find love somewhere else.  It’s worth being with her if it means attaining some level of growth.

Girls 4x06-2

Source: HBO

Hannah’s story, on the other hand, works but feels more contrived.  She, along with a psychiatrist that is definitely doing more harm than good, decides that she lives to help other people (which is obviously a ridiculously deluded statement).  So, after she talks to her friends, she decides to pursue education and become a teacher.  And at the end of the episode, she ends up doing just that, getting a job as a teacher.  It makes sense that she would pursue a new direction and the line of reasoning she uses to do that would be flawed, but the dots are connected so quickly (it takes a LONG time to be certified as a teacher) that we don’t have a lot of time to ponder Hannah’s reasoning.  She just picks a direction, justifies it with a paper-thin remark about herself, and goes.

And yet that makes sense in its own bizarre way.  People attempt to move forward only to find that the path they take isn’t going to yield the results they want.  So they just change tact and move on.  Hannah decides to be a teacher, and even though that probably won’t work out, her experience will tell her something about what it means to be herself.  She doesn’t need other people’s validation in order to be worth something.  And it’ll take her a while to figure that out.  It’ll probably take a classroom of students calling her an idiot to figure that out.

But all of this random movement among the show’s characters is still kind of frustrating after last week’s remarkable episode, “Sit-In”.  This episode, “Close Up”, feels like a reboot to the season, and it makes the season as a whole feel somewhat disjointed and awkwardly paced compared to Season 3.  The thesis statement for this season seems to revolve around aimlessness, around the notion that people will move in any direction to figure out who they are and what they want.  And that is inherently troubling considering how television is normally so structured (even the most unstructured serialized television is very, very structured).  Hannah moving into teaching feels more like the show taking her down a road than her moving on her own, and in a show where her motives are such a big deal, that’s kind of a problem.

What did you think of this episode of Girls?  Was it a step down from last week’s amazing episode?  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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