Girls 4×08 ‘Tad and Loreen and Avi and Shanaz’: Deal with it

Girls 4x08

We always have problems that we have to deal with.  When we’re younger, the problems that we have to deal with aren’t nearly as bad.  We might get into high school and have to deal with increasing homework, friends inflicting peer pressure, but that’s still nothing compared to what we go through in college, or what we go through when we’re out in the workforce after that.  Our problems get exponentially harder, and we have to steel ourselves to cope with that.  But it takes a while to make the adjustment necessary to do that.  Until then, immaturity keeps people making bad decisions and hurting each other.

Girls 4x08-4

Source: HBO

“Tad and Loreen and Avi and Shanaz” is an episode about how people of different ages cope with the problems in their lives.  It’s also one of the more dramatic episodes in the season, effectively draining the comedy out of the show with a particular scene that’s more brutal than anything I’ve seen on The Walking Dead in weeks.  But it’s also an episode that unnerving because it throws a lot at the audience, enough for me to say that I’m worried that Girls is becoming the kind of show that needs to keep the audience glued to their seats through quick plotting.  And Girls has never really done all that well with quick plotting.

Girls 4x08-2

Source: HBO

Let’s start with Hannah and Cleo.  Cleo has to be around ten years younger than Hannah, but they start hanging out (which is extremely inappropriate for even a substitute teacher to be doing) and decide to get matching frenulum piercings.  They both skip class to do it, and Hannah begins to devolve into an immature teenager the more they hang out.  Really, what Hannah is doing is finding somebody she doesn’t have to reach up to.  It’s easy to hang out with people that don’t have a lot of responsibility and don’t have a lot of aspirations, because then you don’t have to try to accomplish anything yourself.  You can revert back to being a child and live without the fear of failing.  And Hannah is so unbelievably afraid of failing that she’s regressing in order to shield herself from that failure.  When Cleo makes the extremely stupid mistake to actually get the frenulum piercing, Hannah is at least smart enough to back out.  Of course, she’s selfish enough to make Cleo go through with it.  She’s selfish enough to back out.  But that’s why she’s there with Cleo in the first place.  She can watch other people make mistakes that are exponentially worse than the ones that she is making.

Girls 4x08-3

Source: HBO

As for everybody else, they’re making mistakes as well.  Marnie and Desi are now engaged, in an engagement scene that the characters were completely engrossed with but I found disgusting (Desi is terrible).  Marnie and Desi aren’t right for each other.  They’re making music, but their music isn’t all that great and they’re fussing over details that aren’t entirely necessary, such as their sound instead of the actual quality and content of the music.  Again, it’s easier to fuss over small details than actually attempt to put forth the effort to make things work out.  It’s likely the reason for the engagement as well.  Instead of dealing with their problems, might as well do something grand to pretend the problems don’t exist.  Shoshanna, at least, is attempting to move forward with her life, where she bonds with Ray and goes out on a date (which, of course, gets weird when Shoshanna becomes awkward).  But, out of all of the characters, Shoshanna is the most redeemable in this episode.

Girls 4x08-1

Source: HBO

But Tad and Loreen’s storyline says something that the show hasn’t really been willing to outright say since maybe “Flo” in season 3.  It says that people are trying to figure themselves out well into adulthood, that people are going to keep making mistakes and being selfish well into adulthood.  Not to say that Tad being gay is a mistake, but it’s a new discovery that he’s coming to terms with at a late age.  And of course he and Loreen aren’t going to necessarily deal with it in a mature manner.  It’s a big deal what Tad has to deal with (unlike the petty issues that Hannah and her friends have to contend with), and it changes the entire trajectory of Loreen’s life.  She now has to deal with the reality that her husband is gay, that he prefers having sex with people that aren’t her.  But she doesn’t understand the sincerity of Tad’s admittance, of the reality that he still genuinely loves her.  When he calls her his “life partner” at Loreen’s tenure celebration dinner, she calls him out on it, but I think that Tad genuinely sees Loreen as his life partner.  He loves her with a companion love that he doesn’t want to give up.  But it’s understandable that Loreen is upset.  She now doesn’t understand the man that she grew up with, that she married and planned to spend the rest of her life with.  But she still deals with it in a way that’s far more graceful than Hannah ever could.  When Avi (who she previously fooled around with) tells her he loves her and wants to be with her, she laughs at him and blows him off.  Because she’s smart enough to understand that sleeping with him would just be immature and foolish, that even if she doesn’t want to, she has to deal with Tad coming out.  Growing up is learning how to deal with your problems, learning how to minimize the damage that you will inevitably cause as you deal with them.

But this may be the unexpected genius of Tad’s storyline.  Hannah is flailing right now.  She quit grad school and lost Adam, and now tried to be a substitute teacher and tried to date a decent guy.  But she’s not really moving forward.  She’s not really dealing with crisis.  She’s wallowing in it, pretending that she’s something she’s not in order to feel better about her mistakes.  When Fran tells her that she isn’t what she thinks she is, she basically pushes it all back onto him and walks away.  When she calls up her parents, she really just wants to complain on and on and on while her mother silently listens and nods her head.  But when her mother tells her that her father is gay, that causes her to stop.  It breaks her out of her daze.  Because maybe now that Hannah actually HAS to deal with something real, she’ll be able to grow up a little bit.  She’ll be able to finally learn how to deal with her problems, or, at least, how to deal with them a little better.

So what do you think of “Tad and Loreen and Avi and Shanaz”?  Is the season going off the rails or are these new storylines really interesting?  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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