“Can’t anything ever be easy with you?” So says Adam (Adam Driver) to Hannah (Lena Dunham) at the end of the third season finale of “Girls,” speaking for many viewers, no doubt. Hannah had come to see him before his Broadway debut (in a small role in Shaw’s “Major Barbara”), even though he had asked her not to — trying to stay in character and all that — and she hadn’t come just to tell him to break a leg. She had come to tell him that she had been accepted to the Iowa Writer’s Program and all that that implies.
Why had she chosen that moment to tell him, you might wonder? Why not wait until after the show, ruining his cast party instead of his performance (in his mind at least)? Therein lies the mystery of Dunham’s character, and its appeal (at least to the countless “Girls” watchers who took to the Internet to proclaim the ender a winner). It’s significant that Adam breaks character to tell her that he loves her and it should be noted that Hannah has already displayed significant ambivalence about going to the prestigious program.
“I’d have to find new friends,” she tells her parents, “and a new place to buy yogurt.”
Though they sell yogurt in Iowa City, it’s hard to imagine Hannah — or any of her mates, really — doing time there for two years, the length of the residency program. It wouldn’t be the show’s most radical turn; at the episode’s beginning, Hannah runs into Adam’s crazy sister Caroline who is living in the building with their ex-junkie neighbor Laird (“Turns out he is an extraordinarily integrated human being,” she tells Hannah) — and pregnant with his baby.
On the other end of life’s spectrum, we find Jessa (Jemima Kirke, whose paintings were just profiled in the New York Times) scoring drugs for an ailing artist (Louise Lasser) who wants to kill herself. I found the assisted suicide a bit unconvincing (not to mention in poor taste), but it’s worth noting that the artist wants to live, and when we last see Jessa, she is calling 911.
Marnie (Alison Williams) finally tells Shosh (Zosia Mamet) that she has slept with her ex-boyfriend, Ray (Alex Karpovsky) — “sometimes multiple times a night” — and Shosh, who has been a doormat for most of the girls for three seasons, breaks character herself and tries to throttle her erstwhile friend. (She had just thrown a tantrum when she learned she couldn’t graduate from college, a fit I’d been waiting for all season — can someone give this girl her own show?)
All the characters come together at the opening of “Major Barbara,” with thwarted love in bloom: Shosh throws herself at Ray, who demurs; Marnie finally gets the kiss she wants from Adam’s fellow actor Desi, only to get smacked down by his girlfriend in the ladies’ room; and Adam is destitute at Hannah’s news. Her fantasy of the life they could have (“We can be one of those artist couples doing different things in different rooms”) does not translate to his experience. We learned this season about his crazy childhood; thus, his abandonment fears (“So now you’re leaving me?”) don’t seem so insane.
Now moving to Iowa — that’s crazy.