TV Talk: GIRLS 1.06 “The Return”

Hannah returns to a magical place with fridges full of free food, aka "home home."

Hey y'all, I'm back from vacation! And while it was difficult to extricate myself from Costa Rica, land of volcanoes, beaches, beer and baby monkeys (I got to hold one!), the knowledge that I could catch up with my Girls certainly helped ease the transition. And just like me, Hannah returned home in this episode, except it wasn't her NYC home, it was her parents' house in Michigan. As she put it, "my home home."

As the episode begins, Hannah leaves her apartment with a garbage bag suitcase and a promise to Marnie that she will secure her half of the rent, even though she just quit her job at the Law Office of Lechery. Her parents, excited about celebrating their anniversary with their daughter, pick her up at the airport and proceed to do all of the typical sweet-but-suffocating parental things: mentioning jobs in Michigan, telling her about all of the food in the fridge, attempting to bait her with Netflix movies. Surprisingly, Hannah discovers that it's not so bad being back. She gets to stuff her face for free, sleep late and catch up on the latest gossip from Heather, an old friend who works in a coffee shop and wears berets. Even better, Hannah gets asked out on a date by a cute, benignly scruffy pharmacist named Eric, who doesn't see any shame in giving her free lube and then hitting on her. They decide to plan their date around a memorial party for Carrie, a high school classmate who died while vacationing in Mexico and who, according to Heather, really admired Hannah for her individuality, like how she "wears two different colored socks."

After coaching herself in the mirror and reminding herself that she's from NYC, so she's automatically interesting, Hannah meets up with Eric for pizza (irony!) followed by the memorial, which consists of blaring Edwin McCain music and a mediocre bootie dance routine performed by Heather. (I'm sure Carrie would have been touched.) They have awkward, milquetoast sex afterwards, which contrasts with Hannah's parents getting wet 'n' wild in the shower, using a position that does nothing to dispel the possibility that Hannah's dad is gay. In mid-thrust, he falls out of the shower and hits his head, and Hannah returns just in time to experience the full awkwardness of the situation. She helps her mom lift up her dazed and extremely naked father, and then the two women share a sweet, tender moment, in which Hannah's pride causes her to miss the window of opportunity to get rent money from her mother. Later that night, Hannah's awoken by Adam (wearing a totally sweet "Cat Nap" sleep mask) on the phone, who is calling just because he misses her, and his charming asshole-ishness snaps her back to reality. Being home home is nice and easy, but New York City is beckoning her back with a gritty smile.

While I did miss the other girls in this episode, particularly Shoshanna, I enjoyed seeing where Hannah came from. And even though I could've used a few more hours to explore and piece together High School Hannah (Like, I get the Party Girl poster but Goo Goo Dolls? Really, Hannah?), her weekend at home deeply resonated with me. Even at 33, I still get a small thrill when I open my parents' pantry and see it packed with Doritos and Fig Newtons and, you know, all of the stuff I don't let myself buy but secretly crave. And even though I haven't lived at home in 15 years, I feel a sense of calm and safety glide over me any time I'm nestled in the bed under my parents' roof. There's something about inhabiting that familiar space, not just a physical but a family space-- a you-shaped place initially carved out for you by your parents and then worn and chipped away by your adolescence. The script and the actors did a wonderful job painting a picture of that Hannah space and making it feel instantly real and familiar.

Consequently, I felt, for the first time, a genuine affection for Hannah. Sure, I've liked her as an amusing, witty, blundering character, but in this episode, I found myself actually caring about her. Maybe it was seeing her not be an asshole to her parents for five minutes. Or maybe it was understanding her bravery in moving to New York in the first place. Perhaps it was the possibility that she and I weren't so different in high school. Whatever it is, I'm relieved that the show gave me a glimpse of a girl who I'd actually want to befriend. Her humanity has always been authentic, just weighted on the side of her flaws and tangled up in her hipster world. Removing Hannah from that space, just for one episode, was a nice breather, and now, armed with a better understanding of her character, I'm anxious to see her return to New York and be the scrappy girl her mother envisions.

Speaking of her mom, I love the shizz out of Hannah's parents. I'm already incredibly biased towards Becky Ann Baker due to her Freak and Geeks cred, but the dinner scene, in which Mr. and Mrs. Horvath discuss Hannah's skills ("She's good at having fun!" proclaims Loreen), was my favorite moment in the entire episode. Just as her hometown surroundings fleshed out Hannah's character, we got to see her parents become real people. I love how her father wonders if she's a good writer or not, and I love how her mother cut off Hannah's funding so she would have something to write about. Based on Hannah's reaction to her parents having sex, she's already hit that point of seeing them as actual people, but I'm glad the show gave us the opportunity to do the same.

Meredith, I know you were already more partial to Hannah than I was, so did this episode do anything to alter or build your feelings for her? And how amazing is Adam Driver, who always convinces me that he's a gross, pervy tool and then, in the span of two minutes, dazzles me with charm? Like, I can't believe I'm saying this, but I get why Hannah sticks with him. I really do.

But I still don't get the Goo Goo Dolls poster.