Last Night’s Girls Had the Quintessential Hannah Moment

Photo: HBO

Girls doesn’t always strive for realism, but it does have a way of zeroing in on vividly true feelings, on its characters’ rawest, most essential conflicts. Last night’s episode, “Female Author,” found all four Girls in moments that highlighted their exact crises: Adam called Jessa out for being a bad influence, which she is. Shoshanna aced a job interview and then immediately trashed it, partially because her character still does not make real sense and partially because she’s a master of self-sabotage. Marnie’s dipshit duet partner Desi is right: She is “very young, and very smart, and very beautiful,” and she should figure out what she wants. Unfortunately, she figured out she wanted more of Desi eating her ass, and here lies the road to despair. She wants bad, dumb things.

Last night’s highlight, though, was with Hannah telling off the members of her cohort in maybe the truest Hannah moment ever. It’s a distillation of how she operates, and it’s more or less everything you need to know about Hannah, which is that even when she’s right — which she is here — she’s wrong.

Hannah’s brand of rightness is not a valiant rightness, which is why she’s a comic character and not a tragic one, but there’s a point at which she will always Costanza her way into being shunned. But unlike George, Hannah actually doesn’t mind being the outsider. It’s not clear that fitting in (“fitting in”) is something relevant to her life, and that oy, this has become awkward feeling doesn’t seem like something she experiences in the way most other people do. She’s on the money with her assessment of her classmates, but she shouldn’t have said what she said. Or maybe she shouldn’t have said it how she said it. Or maybe when. Actually, it’s hard to articulate exactly what’s wrong with what she did. Is it mean? It’s not that mean, and she feels that she’s been the target of much worse from everyone else. Is it not the time and place? Sort of, but they’re all talking about writing, so it doesn’t seem that off-topic. Should you just not say things like that? Well, yeah, but from where she’s sitting, it seems like everyone else is saying similar things. It’s rude, but not really more rude than what anyone else said, it just feels ruder because Hannah thinks she’s being fun.

Her spiel was a bad call, the kind of thing a trying-to-be-nice HR person would chalk up to not understanding the “office culture.” Hannah’s wrongness — a chronic, perpetual kind of wrongness — is diffuse, the kind of wrong that’s haunting because it’s hard to figure out how it doesn’t apply to you yourself. We’ve all worn pants that are not flattering, we’ve all said inopportune things, we’ve all thought we were being subtle when we really weren’t. (Haven’t we? Please, God, let me not be alone on this.) There’s a reason that character is such a lightning rod, and it’s because she a reflection of dozens of variants of social anxiety. I would never do what she does, I tell myself. But she doesn’t know she’s doing it. Would I?

Even When Girls’ Hannah Is Right, She’s Wrong