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BYT is recapping Girls Season Three for your reading pleasure, with Svetlana and Alan doing a he-said-she-said take on things.


Alan: The death of a grandparent is a cliche in the world of undergraduate creative writing departments. For many young people, it’s the only significant event in their life, so they treat it with gravitas even though the experience is not exactly unique. In Dunham’s hands, however, the death of grandparent has genuine emotional heft. She mostly avoids maudlin scenes, and instead considers how ailing Grandma Flo is a catalyst for the younger generation to behave badly. We already know Hannah is a sociopath, and perhaps she inherited similar traits from her mother’s side of the family.

Flo is an important character, and not just because of what befalls her. She seems genuinely sweet, although she’s a little demanding (she’s played by Oscar nominee June Squibb, so between Girls and True Detective, actors on HBO could have won gold statues on the same night). Dunham creates an intriguing plot contrivance when Hannah asks Adam if he’ll pretend they’re engaged. It’s good-natured, as far as lies to your grandmother can go, but it leads to tension between the otherwise happy couple. Now they’re talking about engagement, does that mean they want to get married, like, f’reals?
Svetlana, I thought this episode rung true since there were so many things about returning home that the episode got right. There’s always that one cousin who one-ups you in life goals, and there’s that one relative, again, makes everything about themselves. What did you think about the family dynamics, Svetlana? What would you do if your spouse put you in a situation like Adam’s?
Svetlana: I fully understand that TV recaps are no place to get “very real” but this episode leave me little choice. I actually lost a grandmother very recently and watching the episode just a few days later did make for some interesting a-ha moments (and pillow hugging). My family is pretty small and pretty close and I spoke to my Grandmother maybe 3 days before she died. The topics included: her being proud of me doing what she (always! naturally) knew I was creatively capable of, the fact that I am so far away, and the fact that I have not taken any one male of the species I am interested to meet her in forever (in my defense, my Grandmother did live in Serbia so the quick jaunts over to Ohio these would not have been). This was pretty much the template of all our conversations in the last half a decade and after watching this episode I  did catch myself thinking for a brief moment: what if I HAD just told her I was happy and loved and it was all going to be ok and my womb will not die unused, that last time I spoke to her. As drastic as it seems, it would have amounted to a white lie with a higher (happiness) purpose. She would not have ever found out the truth but it would have made her content for that brief moment in time, her super soft skin aglow with great-grandchildren hopes and dreams. As macabre as that sounds, I can see how it would maybe be helpful? So, as weird as it sounds and as unexpected as it is for me to type this, I probably would have said yes if someone asked me to put up that ruse, but I can see how this situation would have made it impossible not to have that trigger some actual questions within an existing relationship one has.

But, my personal feelings of disappointing my Grandmother aside, this was a great episode. June Squibb glory aside, the sibling and cousin dynamic is really what makes it. The neurosis and paranoia and incessant judging is instantly relatable though Dunham doesn’t do the best job at projecting the love that one needs to feel simmering under all that.

In general, I think this is a big episode about “defining relationships”. Hannah springing that white lie plan to Adam, her cousin explaining how convenient it is that her boyfriend has another girlfriend, and then that conversation Hannah and her Mom have about Adam in the hospital lobby. What did you make of that “keep the job, not the man” moment?

Alan:  I’m sorry to hear all of that. Now I have to get real, too: I’ve also lost a grandmother recently, and while she lived in suburban Maryland, not Serbia, our respective final conversations are similar. I guess that speaks to the point that Dunham gets at something universal, and it’s to her credit that the episode does not feel like an undergraduate short story cliche.

I completely agree about the strength of the cousin dynamic. The one-upmanship is terrific, so are the cutting moments where the cousin implies Hannah is a slutty alcoholic. As for the “keep the job, not the man” line, it’s set up beautifully. Hannah’s aunts dig at her choice in a husband – they recite his name with scorn – so she responds by lashing out at Hannah since Adam is strange, imperfect man (albeit a loving one). There is one barb at another. At one level, it’s lazy writing since it’s obvious that families pay their insecurities forward, yet it works because, as we alluded earlier, this the Horvath family and it’s also our own.
Any parting words before we wrap this relatively depressing recap?
Svetlana: Maybe just: Remember to call your grandparents this week?
Alan: Works for me.