The Telefile

Girls: Hannah Finally Learns How the Real World Works

by Aly Semigran February 10, 2014 6:00 am
<i>Girls</i>: Hannah Finally Learns How the Real World Works

I keep waiting for the Hannah bubble to burst. Not the charmed-life bubble (because despite all her whining, it is one), but rather the self-absorbed bubble. Hannah has it in her mind that she is the greatest writer that the world will ever know and no amount of publisher deaths or the fact that she's only produced a few pieces of content will change that. It doesn't help matters that those around her are constantly telling her she's right (writers go through rejections and edits regularly, but that never seems to be the case for Hannah) and feels entitled to whatever success may come her way. There's no sense of humility or, more importantly, the will to really work in the business she claims to be above. That's why I was so pleasantly surprised by "Free Snacks," an episode that hit the nail right on the head about a lot of things in the current world of journalism. (Except for all those daily snacks. If that's really what's going on over at GQ, they can expect about a thousand resumes coming their way this week.) Hannah has no earthly idea how her industry works because she's so detached from it, in every way possible. So it was incredibly refreshing to watch her realize that everything isn't handed to you on a silver platter and that sometimes you have to compromise your dreams. No matter how "talented" you think you are, there are just as many – if not more – people out there just like you struggling to keep their head above water. While I don't think this experience will make Hannah a better person, or even a better writer (a good writer also listens; they don't just yell above the crowd), I do think this will make for a better show if she continues to experience some truly real-life circumstances.

Hannah, once again, quits working for Ray because of a new gig she got at GQ. Ray figures out immediately that there's no way she'd get an editorial position with them; that at the very least, they needed "someone for a before picture in a makeover article." He gets it out of Hannah that she'll actually be working on a Neiman Marcus-funded advertorial called "Field Guide to the Urban Man." Ray calls it "morally and creatively bankrupt" and Hannah complains that this high-profile, resume-building, paid gig wastes her "literary voice and myriad of talents." Don't get too comfy in those hipster clogs, because the other shoe is about to drop, Voice of a Generation.

Anyway, Hannah arrives to her first day at GQ and finds herself in a lifeless cubicle with a computer and a phone and not much else. Don't be fooled by romantic comedies in which the lead is a journalist who works at a high-profile magazine: this is what it actually looks like for interns and everyone else at the bottom of the totem pole. She makes a new friend named Joe (Michael Zegen), a cute, nice dude who shows her the ropes of the office including that aforementioned "snack room" with its delicious and expensive goodies at the entire staff's disposal. I call bullshit, but that could just be the seething jealousy talking. Also, lucky for Girls, their blatant Sun Chips pandering pales in comparison to the Ford-shilling that happened during the Super Bowl episode of New Girl.

Sidebar: Something even more unrealistic than all the free snacks is that Joe would immediately know Hannah – a mostly unknown blogger – by name due to her cocaine article. ("I felt like that wasn't as retweeted as much as it should have," she cries.) Unless it's a name you see every day on the web, chances are you are never going to place the writer with the article. End sidebar.

Joe then takes Hannah into their morning meeting with their advertorial colleagues Karen (the awesome Jessica Williams of The Daily Show) and Kevin (Amir Arison) and their judgmental and disinterested editor (of course.) In her first meeting in her first real job ever, Hannah blurts out a series of ideas (including eye-rollingly hilarious suggestions like Kewl Dad and The Kabballer) that her boss just loves. Meanwhile, when her seasoned coworker comes up with an idea that is, honestly, no less insipid than anything she just offered, Hannah shoots him down and continues to go back to taking over the meeting. Maybe it's a youth thing, or a generational thing, or maybe it's just a Hannah thing, but conventional wisdom would tell you to maybe try to listen and learn on your first day, rather than steamroll.

The next day, Hannah complains that Kevin doesn't like her because he was "belittled by my rapid-fire mind," but really, he just hated her face. "Your mouth makes me want to rip it off your face," Kevin said, unknowingly on behalf of the world. After getting her ass inexplicably kissed on her second day ("You're doing a dope job" and "You're gonna make a name for yourself here" her colleagues tell her, for some reason), she gets the most valuable lesson she'll ever learn on this show: this industry is no walk in the park for anyone. When Hannah blatantly disregards her coworkers, who she has known for literally two days, for not being real writers like she is, they drop some truth on her. Kevin is an award-winning poet, Karen had a widely-appreciated think piece, and Joe was in the New Yorker not even a year after college. But you know what? New York City is an unforgiving place, even to talented writers, and sometimes when the alternative is to pack it up and move home, you absolutely take jobs that offer you insurance and sick days and gym memberships and holidays. And sometimes your original dreams fall by the wayside and your "spiritually fulfilling work" can take a backseat because you have to pay bills and a temporary position can easily turn into five years of your life. I know most viewers relate to the relationship stuff on this show, but never has Girls struck more of a nerve with me than in this moment.

This sends the brilliant artiste Hannah into a tailspin, prompting her to say insane things on her second day ("I don't want to be here in ten years…I'm realizing how easy it is to be seduced by money and perks") and preemptively quit. She quickly realizes this is a terrible idea after Janice bluntly tells her, "Lots of people would love to have your job" and un-quits. Hannah goes back to cry in her cubicle until Joe reassures her with the lie that all journalists tell themselves: just do additional writing on nights and weekends.

Hannah sticks to this plan for all of about 30 seconds when, after she arrives home to an overly excited Adam (he did well at an audition, not because he actually wants to work, but because he just enjoys "reading emotional cues from strangers in a high-pressure situation") and promptly falls asleep on the couch. The real, working world is an exhausting place, literally and metaphorically. Welcome to it, Hannah.

Elsewhere, in the not-so-real-world, Jessa was busy belittling customers at the children's boutique shop she'd vow to get in last week's episode; Shoshanna speed-talked her way through a quasi-relationship with some dumb guy from school; and finally, for some crazy reason, Ray is pursuing Marnie. Not only is Marnie rude and dismissive to him, but these two have nothing in common (his idea of reality TV is Ken Burns documentaries) except for the fact that they are close friends with each other's respective exes (a topic neither of them have even broached yet.) I get that these are two seemingly lonely people, but Marnie thinks Ray is annoying and self-important (true) and Ray thinks Marnie is stupid and selfish (also true) and I don't think not wanting to eat lunch alone is reason enough for two polar opposites to try and make a go of it. Marnie shoots down everything Ray does – from calling her to "check in" or bringing her muffins from his job, and Ray doesn't seem as interested in talking to Marnie as he in having someone to talk at. Are we supposed to be rooting for this relationship and their awkward sex, let alone buy this courtship for one second? Ah, well… as usual, Marnie, and especially Jessa and the now-insufferable Shoshanna once again take the back seat on Girls.




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