Five Essay Prompts for Girls 2×2: ‘I Get Ideas’

Will Hannah ever be able to go back? (HBO)

Will Hannah ever be able to go back? (HBO)

These questions regard last night’s episode of HBO’s Girls. Please answer the prompts with specific examples from LAST NIGHT’S EPISODE, though supplementary material will be accepted as a secondary source. Please write legibly. No. 2 pencils only. You have an hour to finish this test. See below for questions and sample responses.

1. This episode is full of references to and images of babies: Elijah says Hannah has “thin skin, like a baby,” and Adam shows up in the middle of the night demanding milk. In a show that is certainly always marked by a focus on immaturity, why does this specific episode seem to want to turn its characters into babies? (And how might this relate to the fact that Lena Dunham’s real-life mother shows up in this episode?)

I don’t think the show wants to turn the characters into babies, per se, but to remind the audience how childish these characters are. Did you know that the median age for a woman’s first childbirth is 24.5 years old? That’s literally the age of Hannah and the rest of the gang. Scary, right? Our protagonist gets surly when she can’t have her way (Sandy not liking her essay), Shosh and Ray talk about bathing pigs while lying in bed with apparently nothing else to do during the day (and you know it’s a work day, because Marnie just got back from an interview), Elijah’s getting dumped because he’s too immature, and Adam wants to be figuratively and literally “nursed” back to health with milk. Only Jessa is moving in a direction where she could possibly have a child and all the responsibilities that go with it (hence the puppies); the rest are too selfish and self-obsessed to even gain employment or hold a steady relationship, let alone take care of a child.

2.  Hannah’s arguments against Sandy’s Republican beliefs appealed to me, and his defense seemed to consist of empty posturing (“I am settled in my beliefs”). But it was still clear that he was right: she was attacking him for not liking her work, not for his political beliefs. How does the show allow us to see, even if we agree with Hannah, that she’s obviously in the wrong? Is it just her weird defensive racism (her version of Stephen Colbert’s “Oh, are you black? I don’t see race.”), or is there a more nuanced negotiation happening here?

(In Donald Glover voice) Whaaaat? Hannah’s arguments against Sandy’s Republican beliefs are insipid … it’s like what Jessa said, “Just read the newspaper. Just read one newspaper.” Hannah has nothing but the vaguest understanding of what “Republican” means: For all we know, Sandy is a moderate who doesn’t agree with Obamacare but is pro-choice and anti-guns. Maybe he’s a fiscal conservative. Maybe he’s goddamn Chris Christie’s BFF. We don’t know, and Hannah’s insistence on attacking him for his “political beliefs” without knowing them is the worst kind of armchair knee-jerk liberalism. Also, Sandy is under no obligation to defend his beliefs, and he handles the attacks well, unlike, I imagine, Hannah and Elijah would. Also, I bet Shosh is a Republican, and Ray is probably a Ron Paul supporter, but it’s the fact that Sandy is a BLACK Republican that makes his character such an anomaly, especially for hipsters in Brooklyn. And Hannah’s Michael Scott impression (or Colbert) of pretending to not even notice her boyfriend is black is just so over-the-top, it struck me as a false note in an otherwise great scene. I mean, Hannah isn’t that much of a moron … right?

Of course, the secondary layer of this scene is Lena Dunham making fun of the criticism that she (Lena Dunham) is so sheltered and secretly racist for not having any black people in the first season, that when her character interacts with one who doesn’t act like a typical “token black guy” character, her brain stops functioning.

3. What is the significance of Thomas John giving Jessa a basket with three puppies in it? Things to consider: hell-guardian Cerberus, the origin of the band name Three Dog Night, the unsuitability of “Hanukkah” as a name for a chihuahua.

I think it looks better on paper if you spell it like this: Chanukah the chihuahua. That’s kind of adorbs. Again: it all comes down to babies, along with a warning. Three Dog Night was named after the slang regarding dingo-hugging on cold nights, and as everyone knows, dingos eat babies.

4. Parse the following song lyrics: “Standing outside/ Not making a sound/ Creeping around/ You destroyed my heart./ Thanks. ” Who is doing the waiting in this line? Does the subject of the line seem to switch halfway through? Is that more like calling 911 and then changing your mind, or more like touching a pig but feeling human skin?

Hmm, I read this to be pretty straightforward in describing Adam’s actions in the last scene, since he literally waits outside Hannah’s apartment, then goes “creeping around” inside. The song is also very Adam-esque: this is a guy very in touch with his emotions and is man enough to show them. “You destroyed my heart” is not something most guys would be willing to admit to an ex, ever. Still, I would have called 911 as soon as I heard creepy noises in the apartment.

Off-topic: How many times can Adam and Hannah have a fight that gets interrupted by a city-operated system of authority? First the ambulance and first responders, and now the police? It’s such a strange device, and I guess all they have left is for someone to start a fire and wait for the trucks to show up.

5. When Marnie and Elijah ask Hannah what happened between her and Sandy, she replies “Your rights happened!” If Hannah is the voice of her generation, might that generation be characterized as one that construes things they think they deserve as “rights”? Discuss.

Well, Hannah is only half in the wrong. She is talking about rights, not things she thinks people deserve: she’s talking about the rights for women and gay people to have the same standing as white men. On the other hand, that’s definitely not what her fight with Sandy was about, but that’s just the lovely, delusional world Hannah Horvath lives in.