The season four premiere of Girls echoes the beginning of the series itself with Hannah and her parents eating dinner in a elegant restaurant that feels like a bad fit for the assembled parties.
“To our daughter, Hannah,” her father (Peter Scolari) says leading into a vaguely creepy and inappropriate toast. “So slow to grow, but how beautiful is the blossom.” It’s fitting, then, that Hannah quickly flags down a waiter and orders a side of fries. With objections from her mother, of course.
The episode was squarely down the middle of what we’ve come to expect from Girls with just enough skin, sex, and snarky commentary. Still, this particular episode felt a little bit like the preamble to the real season, which, I assume, kicks off next week as Hannah furthers her education in Iowa.
While the tone may have been slightly off, the series continues to rely on its wonderfully drawn characters as the greatest source of its humor.
Take Adam (Adam Driver), for example, ironically depressed over an acting gig – a television commercial for a depression medication. “They cut shit out that made it a cohesive story,” he rants, starting to become one of those ACTORLY types you kind of hate.
Marnie (Allison Williams) returns with an extremely graphic sex scene that you did not see on Peter Pan. It was such a graphic scene (even by HBO’s standards) that it made me wonder how exactly they filmed it.
The remainder of the episode largely takes place in the family-themed restaurant (think a slightly more upscale Applebee’s) where she and Desi perform a “jazz brunch.” As the crowd reacts poorly to her singing, Marnie flees the restaurant, causing Elijah (Andrew Rannells) to chase after her with a classic “get over yourself” pep talk.
All of this happens as Shoshanna receives her diploma and Jessa reacts poorly to Hannah’s departure. Well, not poorly… She just professes not to give a shit, which brings to light the theme of the overall episode. Hannah’s journey to Iowa begins largely without much fanfare. I suppose the big joke here is that she’s upset no one really stopped his or her lives to sob and cry over her leaving New York, particularly Adam who knows she’ll try to call him 10 times a day.
That is, in a nice close to the episode, until Marnie visits and helps her pack, sending her off to Iowa in true-to-form Girls style – a moment of true emotion before we cut to Hannah looking sad and pissed off because life doesn’t go exactly how she imagined it would.
Other plotlines revolved around Shoshanna finally receiving her diploma specifically unceremoniously and Jessa losing the elderly friend she tried to euthanize late last season. That’s a sentence I never thought I’d type in my life.
Overall, it was a fine episode, certainly not worthy of the great “Beach House” episode from last season, but it will do for an average season premiere. One note: maybe it was just me and the coinciding Golden Globes, but this episode seemed particularly packed with “surprise guest stars,” including Anthony Edwards and Ana Gasteyer as Shoshanna’s bickering divorced parents, Rita Wilson as Marnie’s uber-supportive mother, and Natasha Lyonne giving an annoyingly Natasha Lyonne-ish performance.
I don’t know what, if anything, that says about the series itself, but it was an odd occurrence on a show that typically keeps its guest stars to one per episode.