I don’t know if my allegiance to a reality-show character has vacillated more wildly in one episode than it did watching Hannah try to navigate the gilded prison that is the Summer House quarantine pad. It starts with me happy that she finally gets Luke to admit he was wrong, then a little bit of sadness when she totally forgives the F-boy (by which I mean a fedora boy), and then total anger when she absolutely loses her shit on my future husband Kyle J. Cooke. (The J stands for “judgmental.”) I always thought that Hannah was the fun, reasonable one, the one I would want to have vodka sodas with. Was I wrong about Hannah all along?
The episode picks up the day after Luke yelled after Hannah as she walked away from his poor fashion choices on the lawn outside. We see Kyle and Carl “getting a quick pump on” in the gym together and, let me tell you, I have bookmarked so many PornHub clips that look exactly like this. When I finally pass away, if my soul can be uploaded to a moment in time, I would like it to be right here, between Carl doing bent-over rows and Kyle doing lateral arm raises. Or maybe the shower session afterward.
Wait, where was I? Oh, yes. Luke calls his sister Alli to talk about what is going on with Hannah, and even she’s like, “Dude, I’ve heard you say you love her on the phone. That’s why she thinks you’re leading her on.” Even his sister isn’t really on his side. This definitely seems to be a boys versus girls issue. Amanda is adamantly on Hannah’s side because she is loyal and says she will stand by Hannah even if she’s wrong. Kyle, Carl, and Stravvy the Sandwich Lord are all on Luke’s side because they think all girls are crazy, which is a patriarchy problem as much as it is a problem with any of them individually.
That night, after the Mullet Olympics, where the crew has to compete in a bunch of increasingly bizarre but definitely amusing drinking games, Luke once again pulls Hannah aside and everyone gets in the tuck position like a window just blew out on their airplane. Luke says to her, “I agree that we have a chemistry between you and I that neither you or I can deny and I do love you, but that can be taken the wrong way.” He admits that, yes, he led her on. And everyone at home who has ever had to deal with dating men shouted, “Yes! Exactly!” at their flat screens. They hug and decide to keep things platonic and work on their boundaries.
The next morning the house looks like an absolute fright. It looks like the gutter after a particularly awful rainstorm outside of a Party City store that left its doors open. There is just shit everywhere. Kyle, as he so often does, starts cleaning the house. He tells us about his days just after business school when he was so poor that his housemates paid him to clean up after them. We see a bunch of pictures of him and, well, it feels like a personal attack. How is this program going to display all of these photos of a 27-year-old Kyle and expect me to think about anything else for the next 23 years? How does it expect me to be productive and focus on things like showering, exercising, and making a passable spaghetti Bolognese using bottled sauce? I don’t even know how this recap is being written, because spiritually I am passed out on top of young Kyle in a supply closet somewhere dreaming about our future happiness. And then they go and show Kyle and Carl throwing the pigskin at the beach and now when people say, “Picture your happy place,” I know exactly where to go.
There seems to be a growing rift between those who do nothing around the house — Ciara, Hannah, and Paige — and those who pitch in — basically everyone else. Hey, at least Ciara managed to clean her room and make her bed before a video call with her mother. At least she knows that she lives like a slob.
Kyle holds a house meeting (which he says he hates having, but you know he loves it more than hockey players love mullets) and, without naming names, brings up the cleanliness disparity. Like Kyle, I was the “house mother” in a Fire Island share for many years and there weren’t that many rules: Don’t fuck your housemates, never buy Tostitos Hint of Lime, no high heels in the pool, and don’t go to sleep on your mess. That’s because, just like in this house, there are people who stay up late (often drunk) and make a mess, and those who get up early then either have to live in a mess they didn’t create or clean up a mess they didn’t create.
The thing about a share house is that you are always going to be metaphorically wiping someone’s ass. Even if you just clean your own mess, it wouldn’t be enough because a group of people living there creates a group mess. Hannah says she doesn’t cook or drunk eat so she shouldn’t be blamed for the messy kitchen. Yeah, but someone else is making your meals. That leaves mess, so even if it is not your mess specifically, you passively contributed to the mess, so everyone has to contribute to the cleaning.
Ciara’s solution, which made me laugh, is to immediately ask if they can just hire a cleaning lady, which, due to COVID restrictions, is obviously a no, but that is the easiest solution for everyone. If you all pay the same and do the same amount of work, then it’s no big deal. But that many people in that small a space requires daily upkeep, something that Hannah and Paige, who I feel like went right from having their parents clean for them to living alone, either don’t understand or have no interest in participating in.
Lindsay proposes a rational solution, which is so out of character it is like getting an onion ring in your order of fries. She says, “If you don’t wake up early, maybe take a night shift.” There is no judgement there, but I feel like Hannah and Paige read it that way. Though Kyle went out of his way not to point any fingers, Hannah goes on the offensive, saying she doesn’t use the kitchen. Then Kyle says her one job is to take out the trash, which she doesn’t do. Hannah is the one who made it about herself, and that is why Kyle then went after her.
The argument gets more and more personal, with Kyle finally saying what he wanted to all along, that Hannah doesn’t pull her weight. When he tells her he would like to sleep until noon like she does, but he has to wake up and clean the house, she retorts with, “Why are you jealous of me?” As a late riser myself, the inherent judgement in that statement is irksome, but Hannah saying, “Why are you jealous of me?” isn’t the right retort. The right retort is, “Well, what can I do so I can still sleep until noon and keep you happy?”
Hannah gets up to leave and tells Amanda that she might be able to handle Kyle yelling at her, but she won’t. Ooooh, that is a low blow. It’s a blow that is so low only Stephen was able to look it in the eye. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.) From there it just gets awful and personal, as Kyle says that Hannah isn’t in a real relationship and just obsessed with Luke and everyone is shouting at the two of them to just drop it. When Lindsay is being the voice of reason, you know you need to step back, take a long look at yourself in the mirror, pop a zit or two, and contemplate your life choices.
As she’s about to leave again, Hannah says, “He’s clearly insecure about his relationship.” Amanda, who went placidly amid the noise and haste up until that point, freaks out and throws a glass at Hannah. Well, it’s more of a plastic, because you hear it hit the ground with a hollow crack and then roll across the floor. Paige says in a confessional that when Hannah said that about Kyle yelling at Amanda, Hannah insinuated that Amanda is a doormat and says, “I wouldn’t have thrown a glass, I would have thrown my whole body across the table.”
As Amanda is crying in the woods in the aftermath, she says, “Kyle never said Hannah,” which is good on Kyle. It’s not his fault that she singled herself out for criticism. I also understand Hannah not wanting to be yelled at by anyone. I’m the same way, but that doesn’t mean the answer is to yell back or make personal attacks. The answer, maybe, is to apologize and say you’ll do better about taking out the trash.
Everything seems so silly the next day, when Carl gets up and talks to his mother on the phone on the front steps and we can hear him crying. He goes in and tells Lindsay that his brother died. We heard of the brother for the first time in the season premiere, when Carl talked about his long struggle with addiction and how Carl was trying to have a better relationship with him now that he’s sober. It seems that’s not meant to be. We all love people fighting about the trash. We get off on Hannah and Luke fighting about whether or not they were only friends. We can laugh at Lindsay’s latest eruption over petty matters. But it’s something like this, the reality that can’t be planned, life seeping in from the outside world, that always hits the hardest. It puts everything else into relief and makes you pain for those who are going through it. Sorry, Carl. That’s awful. We’re all here for you, just on the other side of the television, wishing against reason that we could make it all better.