Girls: Cubbies Review

Girls returns to a familiar place and Gillian Jacobs makes her first appearance! Here's our review...

Well, looks like Hannah’s gone back to NYC and perhaps I was naïve to expect otherwise. It’s just that it’s such a bold (not to mention difficult) move to up and transplant a character or characters to a complete different locale and then morph your entire show around it and I love seeing those kinds of unexpected turns in my television. But I guess very few shows are The Wire. Really, pretty much only one show is The Wire and it is called The Wire.

Also, I mean, I can hardly call Hannah giving up and dropping out a betrayal of her character. Honestly, it’d be far more non-Hannah had she stuck with it and actually finished the entire two-year degree (but she thrives on the streets; she always has). That she deliberately (whether consciously or subconsciously) turned all her classmates against her to ensure she’d have no choice but to leave is about as Hannah as it gets. But some part of me will always pine for an alternative-universe Girls with two whole seasons split between Hannah in Iowa with a whole new cast of characters and the rest of the gang chugging along in New York (again, admittedly, it would’ve been a tall-as-hell order).

Still, if the intent was always to bring Hannah back to familiar environs, I guess exploring Iowa for three episodes is a fairly decent amount of Iowa. Honestly, I doubt there’s even enough Iowa to fill more than that. Haha! Eat it, Iowa!

Seriously though, I do feel the new locale, even for the short amount of time we were in it, could have been utilized better. It’s unfortunate to me that Iowa and the people in it really just served as a general antagonism for Hannah. For example, I would’ve liked it a lot more if Hannah’s classmates turned out to be more than just vessels for her to piss off and be pissed off by. I loved the dynamic set up in Hannah’s first class, but that never got revisited. Most of what we learned about Hannah’s class was secondhand from Hannah’s dressing down of them in the previous episode. It’s not surprising, of course, that these people weren’t more fleshed out considering we were only going to be in Iowa for three episodes, but it’s still lame that it feels like there’s nothing lasting to take away from this period in the series’ life. Hannah’s season two advertising job felt more concrete than this. The setting of Iowa, along with the characters occupying it, is essentially a hollow construct that can be summarized as “something Hanna doesn’t like.”

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Also, I’m sorry, but even used as a contrast to Hannah’s attitude, I don’t think Elijah should’ve been there. Andrew Rannells is now a series regular and it comes across like maybe they didn’t know where else to slot him in and give him his due screentime. If these episodes were all about Hannah’s growing alienation, why the hell is Elijah there being a fly in the thematic ointment? His appearance was so sloppy and shoehorned in; the conclusion of his time in Iowa was even more so because, um, it wasn’t there. Hannah just up and leaves Iowa without him. What happens to Elijah? Who knows! Hey, maybe they are going to keep a season-long story going in Iowa, but it’ll be Elijah’s! Nah, just kidding, I’m sure he’ll materialize in New York soon enough.

Anyway, my extensive Iowa qualms aside, this is mostly a funny and charming episode. It’s always lovely when Peter Scolari turns up as Hannah’s forever supportive and (far too) understanding father. The opening scene with Marnie obnoxiously forcing Jessa and Shoshanna to listen to her new song with Desi is hilarious. Just watching the fed-up faces Jemima Kirke makes throughout the scene is fun. And I love when Shosh wonders aloud why nobody tells you how bad it’s going to be in the real world and Marnie replies “Yeah, they do. It’s pretty much all they ever tell you.”

We get to see the aftermath of all of the girls’ choices from the last episode. After her first perfect interview, Shosh’s subsequent interviews have been going miserably and pathetic Shosh is very funny Shosh (“Are you going to work now, like everyone else except for me?”). It’s also nice that it leads to her and Ray being able to be friendly again. Though on the subject of Ray, I can’t say I think too much of his plotline about the new traffic light installed outside by his building that means his street is now constantly full of honking cars. It just feels a bit too like a silly sitcom premise. I know Girls is a sitcom at heart, but it’s not a terribly conventional one. The “guy gets mad at the cars outside his house” storyline seems like it’d be more at home on something like, I don’t know, Modern Family, maybe?

I do like the way Marnie’s story is developing. I never expected Desi to break up with Clementine. However, he seems to have done it just because he suspects Clementine cheated on him. Marnie works out that it’s maybe not a “pure” breakup that he did out of love for her, but goes with it anyway because she’s technically still getting what she wants. This is a nice little bittersweet twist: Marnie gets the guy, which ostensibly also means good things for her music career, but it’s likely she’s made a bad decision regardless. Also, it made for a funny scene of Desi crying and Marnie not knowing how to handle it.

I also must give special attention to the ending because, hooray, it’s Gillian Jacobs! We knew she was going to be a part of season four, that her character’s name would be Mimi-Rose Howard, and that she’d get an episode named after her to boot. So that she showed up now and turned out to be the “whatshername” who Adam is dating (as alluded to by Jessa) was a surprising upset, not to mention a great way to end the episode.

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3.5 out of 5