great debates

Should Girls’ Hannah and Adam Break Up?

Photo: Craig Blankenhorn/HBO

Last night on Girls, Hannah and Adam had a fight. A big, ugly, half-naked fight — the kind that ends up with one person (Adam) moving out temporarily, and maybe forever. We don’t know! But naturally, we all have opinions on whether Adam and Hannah should get back together, so Vulture’s Margaret Lyons and Amanda Dobbins debated the merits of their relationship.

Margaret: This season, Adam has been a pretty superb boyfriend to Hannah: devoted, present, and really clear about his gotta-haves and want-to-haves. But this week it became clear that Hannah is someone who isn’t really ready to engage with that. Hannah sort of sees herself as less a participant and more an observer in her own life — like when she complained earlier this season that the road trip to get Jessa out of rehab did not provide enough fodder for her writing. Surely she could have written about a boring road trip (and on a meta-level, Lena Dunham obviously did), but Hannah’s always on the lookout for whatever the crisis could be. I once heard an anthropologist describe his work as “problematizing” — looking at theoretically “normal” behavior and thinking about the structures and systems that affect it, and searching for possibly fraught dynamics therein. So my weird theory is that basically Hannah is her own anthropologist, and she’s consistently problematizing her own life.

Amanda: I don’t think I disagree with that general theory — the idea that Hannah is constantly creating her own conflicts. The problem here is that I don’t actually blame Hannah for what went down last night. Yes, the role-playing was weird, because it was based on Hannah’s misinterpretation of Adam’s desires and also because it ignored the very real evolution of their relationship. It was, as you said, Hannah inventing a problem and then only exploring it from her point of view (even as she thought she was taking Adam into consideration). But I do understand how she got to the wig and the slapping and the random introduction of a cheerleader mid-fuck, because I watched all that stuff happen first season, courtesy of Adam. It doesn’t seem unnatural for Hannah to think that she needs to reenact all those fantasies in order to keep Adam; it seems like a very real reaction to his behavior, and also a totally believable segue into a discussion about how they have sex and what they mean to each other now (versus then). This is a fight that should already have happened, basically. So I was less alarmed by the setup and more alarmed by Adam’s sudden, totally self-centered, “my work is my focus” walkout. Who is the Hannah now?

Margaret: This is why I think they should break up!

Amanda: Okay, but you always think people should break up.

Margaret: Yes, mostly, but usually that’s because happy couples on TV are pretty boring, so for the interestingness of the show, I want to see more strife. Here, though, I think Hannah and Adam are a hugely interesting couple, and I’m not at all bored of the weird crap that lives inside their relationship. I just think that as … humans … they should break up. Like, if these people were my friends, I would say “maybe you guys need some time apart,” and I would only be saying it that way because it is considered rude to say “Jesus, no relationship could possibly be worth this.” I learned that one the hard way!

Amanda: I will admit that some of my Adam plus Hannah OTP beliefs stem from a desire to keep Adam Driver on this show forever. If nothing else, we can thank Lena Dunham and Girls for this gift of a human, who will hopefully extend his recent casting streak into infinity and/or until I die. I’m also not gonna argue with some time apart; if your partner responds to your sexual concerns and vulnerability with “My play is too important for this,” then that partner should find a new place of residence. But terrible fights happen, and I sincerely believe that this relationship has changed both Hannah and Adam for the better. Look at Hannah: She is the most stable woman in her family; she not only has a job, but she’s good at her job. (Hunting down Patti Lupone after she cancels an interview is some real go-getter shit.) And Adam is demonstrably more communicative and open, even with Hannah’s shitty friends. Plus, he has a job on Broadway that Hannah is very supportive of. They don’t always know how to help each other, but they do try. They’re learning! And for two challenging people, they’re doing okay!

Margaret: Are you referring to her sociological family, a.k.a. Marnie, Jessa, and Shosh? Being the most stable among those people is not much of a prize. I think Hannah’s mom is more stable than she is, but that’s neither here nor there — parents should be more stable than their children, at least until their children grow up, no? Hannah didn’t strike me as someone struggling with stability per se, certainly not in the way Jessa does. (Again, Hannah had a really stable childhood, which we’ve known since the pilot.) Hannah struggles with compassion, foresight, focus, and OCD. We’ve seen Adam “help” with the OCD. I guess I’m just not buying the healing power of their love. Adam was present for a lot of Hannah’s maturation in this season, but I’m completely unconvinced that he caused it.

Amanda: I don’t think he caused it, and I would be concerned if he did — Hannah needs to learn how to be her own person in the world. But I do believe that other people can help, and I think Adam creates a space where Hannah is more confident and compassionate than she was. He brings her outside of herself in the good way. Also, I believe that she really cares for him. I am a mushy romantic, and I root for people in (non-destructive) love. Sorry.

Margaret: This is the first time ever that I am not the “romantic” in the conversation! This is weird for me! I’ll agree that Adam helped, but it seems to me that they’ve maxed out on helpfulness; maybe they’ve both grown into better people during this relationship, but that growing has stopped, and now my worry is that their protracted breakup will bleed both of them so dry that any progress they’d made toward healthier, happier lives will be immediately reversed. Go out on a high note, you two! Don’t drag each other back into the pits of despair. Walk away now.

Amanda: Or … work on your relationship? Why is that never an option on television? I would watch at least three episodes of Hannah and Adam in therapy. A whole season, really. I believe in love (and in Adam Driver staying on this show).

Should Girls’ Hannah and Adam Break Up?