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Crystal Bell

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'Girls' Recap: Michigan State Of Mind In 'The Return'

Posted: 05/20/2012 11:00 pm

Note: Do not read on if you have not seen Season 1, Episode 6 of HBO's "Girls," entitled, "The Return."

If there's one takeaway from this week's episode of "Girls," it's that mom always knows best. The last time we saw Hannah's mom, she was shouting, "No more money," and dreaming of buying a "f---ing lake house." Now, we come to find out that the only reason she ever wanted to cut Hannah off was to give her something to write about. Awwww, mom!

In "The Return," Hannah goes home to Michigan to celebrate her parents' anniversary. Before leaving, Marnie tells Hannah that she needs to ask her parents for money. Having just quit her job, Hannah is in desperate need of some cash. Her cupcake fund in running low! (And the rent is seemingly due at some point in this series.)

Trash bag in hand, Hannah arrives in Michigan. Yes, I said trash bag. I'm not quite sure what Lena Dunham was trying to tell us here. Are trash bags ironically the new suitcases? Is Hannah a really big fan of Angelina from MTV's "Jersey Shore"? Is she too broke to buy a $20 suitcase on St. Marks? How does one even go about checking in a trash bag? Was this her carry-on or her personal item? Was it full of dirty clothes, and is she really bringing a bag full of dirty clothes home for her mother to wash for her? The questions are endless.

From the minute Hannah walked into her upper middle class Michigan home, it was apparent that she wanted to be anywhere but with her parents. Yes, she was being a brat. That's just what happens when you go home; you regress into your childhood self.

You also meet up with the ghosts of high school past. For Hannah, that means meeting up with her high school best friend Heather, a pretty blonde with big Hollywood dreams. She wants to be a dancer, but I'm pretty sure the only dancing that she's qualified for is of the adult variety.

"I know enough to know that you don't really have to know anybody, you know?," she tells Hannah. Well, at least she has a dream ... "you know?"

While running an emergency errand for her mom (she really, really needs her hormone pills), Hannah meets another familiar face from high school. He's a nice boy (Imagine!) with a stable job as a pharmacist (Seriously!),and he likes Hannah (For real!). He even asks her out on a date after running to her family's station wagon to hand her a tube of lubricant for her mother. It was free of charge. See Hannah, nice guys do exist ... in Michigan.

Unfortunately, they still say things like "yo", but that's OK. I'd rather have a guy say things like, "You did good, yo" than have someone say, "Hold your roll." I still have no idea what that means.

So Hannah cancels plans with her parents to go on a date with the pharmacist. She gives herself a pep talk in the mirror, wears a dress with a bow in the back, he takes her out for pizza, and then, they end up at a benefit for a missing girl named Carrie. I'll never be able to listen to Keri Hilson's "Pretty Girl Rock" again without thinking of "that awkward moment in 'Girls' when they dedicated it to a missing person and then proceeded to dance provocatively in fishnets and short-shorts."

I think Hannah was just as scarred, but Mr. Nice Pharmacist didn't see anything wrong with it. Sure, it was a lil' bit scary, but it's the thought that counts, right? However, Hannah thinks it's ridiculous that her pretty blonde friend Heather is delusional enough to believe that she can make it as a dancer in Los Angeles.

"Heather is moving to California to become a professional dancer, so that should all make us feel pretty sad and weird ... And nobody is telling her. She's going to go to L.A., and live in some shitty apartment, and she's going to feel scared and sad and lonely and weird all of the time."

Hannah, I'm pretty sure this is one of those instances where the pot is calling the kettle black, but I think you know that. She tells Mr. Nice Pharmacist that she would like Heather's life. "Maybe I should move here. I wouldn't have to worry about rent all of the time, so that I can finally work on my book."

I'm almost certain that a majority of young people living in New York City have said something similar. I know I have. "Do you know how much money I could save? Life would be so much easier, and I'd probably be in a serious relationship with a really nice pharmacist right now!" But then I remember how boring my life would be in Illinois and quit whining.

Last week, Hannah asked Marnie, "If you had read the essay and it hadn't been about you, would you have liked it?," as her best friend's relationship crumbled around her. "It's not yours to write about, Hannah," Marnie shouted.

We're six episodes in, and we still haven't seen Hannah produce anything that wasn't in her diary -- excuse me, notebook -- or about her own life. But that's OK. I'm not eagerly awaiting Hannah's book release. In fact, I'm pretty sure that it's never going to happen, but that's not the point of "Girls."

These ladies have no aspirations, not even the obnoxiously pretentious kind. They don't sit there and daydream about being glamorously famous or insanely rich. I still don't know what Shoshanna is studying in school, and Hannah seems perfectly content with her financial situation. Dare I say that she revels in it?

She wants to write a memoir, but since she's never done anything interesting, she's in no hurry to finish her Midnight Snack. It's a stark contrast to her blonde haired former BFF: She wants to be a star in L.A., while Hannah just wants to call herself a writer. "Girls" has never been about aspirations; it's about reality. You can call yourself a writer, but until you've actually been published, you're just a girl who likes to write in your notebook.

That's why Hannah's mom stopped the funds in the pilot episode. "I cut her off so that she would have something to write about," she explains to her doubtful husband. Hannah needs inspiration, and no one wants to read a memoir full of cupcake metaphors. There needs to be some struggle.

Kudos to Mrs. Horvath for giving Hannah the push she needs.

Maybe now Hannah can write about "that awkward time she walked in on her mom trying to wake up her dad after kinky shower sex?" I'd read that.

I'm not saying that I have a problem with geriatric sex. Hey, old people deserve to get it on, too. It's totally normal. But I could have gone without that particular image in my brain.

Also, what was the real point of this sex scene? To show Mr. Horvath's pubic hair? (Yeah, it went there.) For a show that's often criticized for its crude sex scenes, this may have gone a little bit too far. On the other hand, Hannah's sexual experience with Mr. Nice Pharmacist was also extremely awkward. Hannah, let's not place our fingers where they're not wanted, OK?

With her dad safely tucked in for the night, Hannah and her mom share a much-needed moment in the hallway. Hannah finally had an opportunity to tell her mom that she needed money, but she didn't take it. Instead, she told her that everything was fine. Woah. Is Hannah actually starting to grow up? The Hannah in Episode 1 asked for $1,100 a month, but now, she's "making it work."

"That is my scrappy little girl," says Mrs. Horvath. Hannah may not have a clear vision of her story just yet, but at least she's motivated enough to figure it out.

Back in her bedroom -- which proudly boasts a poster of Parker Posey's "Party Girl" -- Adam surprisingly gives her a call. Wow. That's like really high on Marnie's "totem of chat." (Face-to-face is, of course, ideal, but it's not possible at this time.)

For the first time in this entire series, she and Adam have a normal conversation. One that doesn't involve sexual fantasies, condoms, HPV or jerking off. He asks her how things are in Ohio (so close, Adam, so close!).

Hannah: "I'm in Michigan, so I don't really know how things are in Ohio."
Adam: "Oh, shit, fuck, sorry. Michigan."

Wait, did Adam just apologize? Is hell freezing over right now? Did Adam really just call her back, apologize for getting her state wrong, ask her if everything is OK and say he misses her? Call me delusional, but I think Adam may care more for Hannah than we realize.

She even tells him about the awkward sex she had with Mr. Nice Pharmacist. The sex was OK (even though she was a bit too sexually adventurous for the poor guy), but his apartment is what really got Hannah thinking.

"Why doesn't everyone just move here and start the revolution?" she asks Adam. "It's like we're all slaves to this place that doesn't even want us."

This is the most thought-provoking piece of dialogue that Dunham has written for "Girls" thus far. It was one of those rare TV moments that I couldn't stop thinking about, even days after watching the episode. Why do we choose to stay in this city?

If you ever get around to writing it, Hannah, that sounds like the beginning of a really great story.

"Girls" airs Sundays at 10:30 p.m. ET on HBO.

 

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