Now that the hype surrounding “Girls” has begun to simmer down, I’m an even bigger fan of the show than I was before. Last night’s episode was my favorite yet — and Judd Apatow’s written involvement definitely had something to do with it. There’s also the fact that the entire installment is all about Hannah, who I mirror during sulky days and moments in which all I want to do is mope and wallow in blinding, debilitating self-pity. Hannah can be you at your worst, and sometimes you cringe at her behavior (stealing from the maid, demanding thousands of dollars from her mom and dad, coming onto her boss, not fully appreciating that she has loving parents, etc.), but she doesn’t pretend to be the ultimate heroine. She’s a 20-something who expected more from herself yet remains stuck and too immature to go after the life of her dreams. For now, at least.
This week, Hannah travels back to the Midwest to celebrate her parents’ anniversary. During a trip to the local drug store, Hannah bumps into a former classmate, Eric, who has settled into his career as a pharmacist. Unlike Hannah, who can barely pay rent every month much less eat heartily, Eric has his life together, and in a way that’s foreign to many New Yorkers under 30. Regardless, Hannah and Eric hit it off reminiscing about Hannah’s old high school advice column and decide to attend a benefit, which is held for one of their ex-classmates who went missing on vacation, as a pair. The contrast between Hannah’s connection with Eric, who skipped all the I’m-too-cool-for-you mind games and simply asked her to hang out, and her relationship with hook-up buddy Adam, is stark. Hannah can snag a boyfriend after all, just not in New York City.
Of course, it’s not that simple. After the cringe-worthy event, the two sit in the car and circle back to Hannah’s unemployment status. Eric’s question regarding Hannah’s source of income puts her in a combative mood, somehow prompting him to invite her back to his place. He says off the bat that they don’t have to have sex, but that’s exactly what Hannah wants to do. We see fairly quickly that she’s much more adventurous than Eric, or at least more willing than he is to pull unconventional moves. This goes nowhere, and Hannah winds up calling Adam and hanging up multiple times before he phones her himself and says he wishes she were with him in New York. Hannah and Adam clearly make progress, but I’m still not convinced that he’s the ideal guy for her.
Yet I could be wrong. Eric wasn’t it, either. She just has an easier time establishing normal relationships with men in Michigan than in NYC. I had a similar experience when I traveled home for Christmas break and spent New Years Eve with some of my best childhood friends in Santa Cruz. I wound up meeting a stunning blond, who looked like a mix between Conan O’Brien and Justin Timberlake, that had moved from Illinois to the bay area for graduate school. My two best lady friends clung to guys that night as well, so after midnight, we migrated back to the bar for more drinks. As the girls spoke of doing body shots together, Mr. Illinois turned to me and said, “I’m kind of done partying for the night. Let’s go to the beach.” So on we headed to West Cliff, which was freezing and not my idea of peaceful. The moment we found a spot, he slipped. I considered laughing, but was overcome with relief that I hadn’t been the one to take a fall, so I kept quiet. More often than not, the clumsy one is me. We hung out for a while, but I wanted to conclude the night with my friends, so I asked him to drive me back to the hotel I shared with the girls. He dropped me off and I entered one heck of a room, which was occupied by one sexing couple and two people with pants off. I was the odd one out, but thrilled to be back with my friends.
The moral of the story is that you can mingle with guys from your hometown (or those who may as well have grown up there) when in need of a break from NYC insanity, but won’t find the same kind of excitement in that environment. Even Hannah’s mom says so in this episode. Eric would theoretically be much more respectful than Adam, but Hannah needs thrill and uncertainty in the department of relationships. She’s sure to get more of that from Adam. It’s my hope, however, that her character moves on before the end of season one. She deserves more than Adam is willing to give her, and she does not have to escape NYC to find someone who can do this.