Girls 4×09 ‘Daddy Issues’: Setting boundaries

Girls 4x09 Cover

We’re tested all the time in our lives.  We’re faced with personal dilemmas that are so monumental that they serve as a checkpoint in our development.  We can look back at what happened and either see that we’ve grown from it, that we handled it gracefully (or as gracefully as we could), or that we completely screwed up and need more self-work to really grow in a meaningful way.  And it’s not the end of the world if we screw up.  We just need to be able to have the capability to reflect on our mistakes.  That said, when we recognize that we have one of those checkpoints in front of us, it’s worth putting everything we have into it, trying as hard as we can to deal with it the best we can.

Girls 4x09-3

Source: HBO

If “Daddy Issues” is about anything, it’s about how difficult it is to try to be better than you have been.  After Hannah acts like a lunatic in the school hallway, whispering profanities at a student, the principal invites her to his office, not to fire her, but to give her a short lecture on boundaries.  When you’re an adult, you have to learn to internally contend with some of the things in your life.  You have to put up boundaries where it’s socially appropriate and then let go when it’s socially appropriate.  And telling a student that your father is gay obviously isn’t socially appropriate.  Hannah has been acting inappropriately for a while now, not because she’s incapable of acting like an adult, but because when she thinks about the merit of it, there’s not a whole lot to think of.  None of her friends even remotely begin to act like adults.  Even at a school, she’s around children, most of which she has an easier time connecting with than the staff around her (Fran).

Girls 4x09-2

Source: HBO

But Hannah does take the principal’s words to heart.  After a lunch with her father that doesn’t entirely go as planned (Tad literally calls her a child, which isn’t entirely uncalled for), she tries to put up boundaries where they are needed.  When Elijah tries to talk to Hannah about her father being gay, she doesn’t want to hear it.  When he (and Hannah’s father) tries talking to her about it again, she still doesn’t want to hear it.  And it makes sense.  This isn’t Hannah’s problem.  This isn’t about Hannah.  She shouldn’t have to deal with everybody else’s problems too.  Getting older is about realizing that not everybody’s problems are yours.  It’s about offering condolence, but separating yourself from everybody else’s self-indulgent dramatics.

Girls 4x09-4

Source: HBO

But “Daddy Issues” also illustrates where the difficulty of being better comes from.  When the people around you are giving in to their selfish attitudes, when they don’t draw boundaries and deal with their problems, it bounces back onto you.  Adam wants to be in a relationship that makes him truly happy, but it takes two to do that, and Mimi-Rose is so horribly selfish that Adam will never be happy with her.  When Jessa and her new boyfriend Ace (Mimi-Rose’s ex) end up at Mimi-Rose’s apartment just because they “happened” to be in the area, Ace makes a spectacle out of wanting Mimi-Rose back, to which she declares that she wishes to be alone if both Ace and Adam want her.  It’s an obvious ploy to continue to suck as much attention out of both men as possible, and Jessa sees right through it, taking Adam with her as she leaves.  Adam might want to be better, but it takes being in a new environment to really grow, and the new environment that Adam thought he had is really the old one disguised and dressed up.

Girls 4x09-1

Source: HBO

The same goes for Ray, who ends up winning his political campaign, throwing a victory party at a local bar.  Shoshanna is at his side for most of the night, as she has been throwing herself into Ray’s campaign because she’s scared of all of the rejection she’s been receiving.  But it’s hard to fault her for that, as she’s at least taking action and doing something.  Ray tries to celebrate his victory, but Marnie and Desi show up, where they have to announce their engagement to everybody at the bar (obviously pushing through boundaries to get the reactions that they want).  This upsets Ray, who ends the night demoralized as Marnie and Desi turn the party into a place where they can announce their engagement and get praise from everybody around them.  Ray is still hung up on Marnie, who is terrible for him considering how great Shoshanna is for him.  Shoshanna has the decency to try to push him as much as she can.  She wants Ray to be great.  And Ray has shown that he has the capability to be great.  He just has a hard time when Marnie and Desi are bringing him back down.

Ultimately, those standing in place brutalize those trying to move forward.  Because the people that revel in their stagnancy try to drag down everybody else, creating the delusion that they’re okay, that they’re doing the best they can.  And it makes sense; why actually put forth the effort to move forward when you can pretend that you are?  But pretending always ends in tragedy.  We know that Mimi-Rose and Ace will inevitably break up if they get back together.  We know that Marnie and Desi will never last.  They’re just chasing a feeling, even if it’s a fake one.  And when people like Hannah or Adam or Ray really put themselves out there, really try to see life for what it is, they’re bound to fall a couple times as well before they achieve victory.

But those falls are the more painful, the worst kind of falls.  Because they expose truths in you that you don’t want to see, truths that are brutally difficult to actually deal with.

So what did you think of the penultimate episode of the season?  Are you excited for the season finale?  What do you think will happen?  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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