“GIRLS;” Do I have Hannah Horvath Syndrome?

It’s Monday which means a new episode of Girls aired last night.  Yes, I’m adding fuel to your “I’m sick of hearing about Lena Dunham and her television show” fire.  Last night (Episode 27, “Free Snacks”), viewers watched as Hannah (Dunham) secured an advertorial writing gig at GQ.  In true Girls fashion, it is an opportunity that Hannah almost immediately begins to shit on.  I will spare you from a full episode summary (if you have yet to see it, or if you can’t stand to watch the show Vulture has an on-point recap) and instead provide just a brief synopsis.

The episode appeared to be a step in the right direction for Hannah; she quits her barista job at Grumpy’s and is initially overjoyed to start a job which utilizes her self-described “myriad talents.”  Her excitement quickly dissolves and is replaced with dread after realizing that her cushy new job has become a creative trap for her co-workers.  They all started out like Hannah: trying to balance work with their own personal projects in hopes of making a name for themselves in the literary world.  To Hannah’s horror, the benefits of GQ are too enticing, too comfortable.  Her co-workers have abandoned their dreams in favor of a fully-stocked snack room.  Cue a full-scale Hannah Horvath meltdown: complete with tears and a trip to the bathroom to stick her head under the faucet (An aside: Do people actually do that?  She’s done that twice, albeit one time she was high on cocaine).

“Free Snacks” was one of the more uncomfortable installments to watch.  While last night’s episode did not include anything traditionally unsettling (e.g. Dunham’s character rupturing her eardrum with a Q-Tip amidst a fit of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder; Adam’s mentally unstable sister Caroline (guest-star Gaby Hoffmann) suddenly appearing completely bottomless and crushing a glass with her bare hands), I still experienced bouts of anxiety.  Why?  Because I hated to admit that I knew exactly how Hannah felt.  While I don’t necessarily identify with Hannah Horvath’s obscure, borderline-unhealthy detachment from reality, I do recognize some uncanny parallels to myself within the monster character Lena Dunham has created.

Like… it’s sort of eery.  Follow the Yellow Brick Road…

Lena Dunham with Snacks.GIF via Tumblr (thefruitshoot)

List of Ways in Which I Was Like “Oh Shit, I’m Hannah” Last Night

1) The Barista Thing

Literally the exact.  Same.  Thing.  I worked for Starbucks from January 2012 to December 2013, and one reason I left the job was the complete lack of free time to indulge in my creative endeavors.  When you’re waking up at 3:30am every morning and working until 1pm, you don’t exactly have tons of energy left after work.  Instead of going out with my camera, I was spending time in bed.  Or like Marnie, laying on the couch in a semi-coma watching episodes of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.

I also had a lot of trouble reading the names scribbled on cappuccinos.

2) The Feeling That I May Step Backward in My Career

I have had so many “WHAT THE FUCK?!” moments in the past few months that I am constantly reflecting on whether or not I am making the right decisions in my photographic career.  Sure, Hannah was an idiot to impulsively stroll into her boss’ office mid-freakout and explain her unwillingness to “wake up in ten years and realize that she is a former writer who now works in corporate advertising,” but I understood where that was coming from.  I went to college in New York City; now I live in Los Angeles.  At some point, you reach an age where applying for unpaid internships “for the experience” is not an option unless you like living on the streets (or if you’re a trust fund baby).  Like Hannah, I deal with the struggle of having to pick-and-choose the jobs I take based on whether or not I’ll be able to make rent that month.  The idiotic part: I would kill to have a full-time job related to my field with a full benefits package.

3) Having Meltdowns Regarding My Career

Everyone deals with stress in their own way.  Last night, Hannah wept silently at her desk while she struggled with whether or not her time at GQ would lead to the untimely demise of her creative writing.  Once a week (on average), you will see me either talking to myself in my car or compulsively smoking cigarettes behind my apartment building. This is due to an occasional increase in the self-imposed stress I put on myself regarding my creative journey.  What is with this onslaught of established photographers in their early twenties?  Why haven’t I booked a gig in two weeks?  When can I schedule the time to sit down and read so I can make myself a better photographer?  Why did I spend six years in college?  After a good self-help session I return to my daily life, albeit with a few more stares from strangers.

4) (A Seemingly) Inherent Disregard for Others’ Successes

Girls seems to peg this as an unfortunate character trait of Hannah.  It’s hard to decipher whether or not she is being selfish, especially when she’s being called selfish by her ever-selfish group of friends.  Sure, she always seems find a way to direct the conversation back to her problems, but who really wants to hear Marnie bitch about her breakup with Charlie when she isn’t doing a single thing to remedy the situation.  At least Hannah’s actually working this season.  In a scene from Sunday’s episode, Hannah returns home from work intent on writing “for at least three hours” in an attempt to be the exception to the “corporate advertising copywriter” rule.  I believe Hannah does actually care that Adam got a callback because I’ve been there.  There have been times in which I was overcome with a sudden burst of creativity, one that needs to be dealt with immediately and at that time I couldn’t give two shits about what happened to you today.  It’s creative diarrhea––once it hits, you have to go, and if you’re stopped in the process you will inevitably shit your pants (or tell your friend to shut the fuck up).  It’s a temporary disregard; it just seems inherent.  So maybe Hannah isn’t as selfish as I initially thought.

So yes, I did have a little “A-ha” moment during last night’s Girls.  I did find yet another way in which this television show resonated with me.  No, I don’t want to talk about it.


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