After last week’s Girls “debacle” where Hannah found herself in some sort of “dream” state, as the Internet trolls called it, in this episode, “Boys,” she was back in her regular life. Thank god! Can you imagine the fit that would have be thrown if Hannah had seen Joshua again? Had cultivated a relationship with him? But no, it didn’t happen and what we saw last night was Hannah back to her lounging around and Googling weight loss tips. Everyone happy now?
Although we also saw Hannah move forward a bit with her ebook deal, it is, as a party goer points out later in the episode, just an ebook. In that moment, Hannah is abruptly kicked off her cloud and heads home to wallow.
Any first year English class will teach you that a well-written protagonist, even one that is annoying, drives the reader batty and maybe even exhibits some evil streaks, must still gain sympathy from the audience in order to succeed. Even characters like Patrick Bateman, in the book version of American Psycho, evoke a feeling of wanting to save him, mother him, turn off his madness, as he is often crying over this or that — a trait that was subtracted from the movie. It’s in the stumbles and pains of a character to which we’re more likely to relate, cheer them on and hope for a happy ending. Last night, Hannah found her place again, and because of that, no one batted an eye, no one questioned the reality of the episode and all was seemingly back to normal. And for some reason the Girls’ audience needed that, but why? It seems less about sympathy and more about a personal need.
Do we need Hannah to constantly struggle as a means to quell our struggles in our lives? Do we need her failures and moments of despair to give us a sigh of relief that we’re are not so sad in our existence? Have we really become a culture that compares our own lives to a fictional character on an HBO series?
So Girls comes back to reality and everyone is mum. Sure, there were the usual recaps this morning, but the outrage that was everywhere last week is now gone; no one can argue how Lena Dunham played Hannah in this most recent episode. She was not bedding men that many deemed impossible and what little glory she got in the first scene was abruptly taken from her before the show was over, and the audience seemed to be content; the critics didn’t have anything over which to argue.
But is this more about Lena, the woman behind the character, and the fury she has ignited in those who feel she’s undeserving of success at such a young age, or is it really all about this fictional character? Having such stake in a fictional character would mean we’re all pretty fucking crazy, and that makes Dunham’s Hannah, in all her oddities, seem sane. If that’s the case, we, as real live human beings, probably shouldn’t be moved to such satisfaction at her trips along the way. If anything, we should find sympathy for the protagonist in our own story — us; because apparently we need it for our insanity.