Girls - Season 4 Episode 1 - Iowa

Girls Episode 4.1 Recap

Girls Season 4, Episode 1: “Iowa”

Welcome, readers to an all-new season of Girls, being recapped by yours truly. Are you ready for twelve new episodes of shenanigans and discussions about borderline psychopathic behaviour? I know Iiiiiiiiii aaaaaaammmm!

Now, before we embark on an all-new season with these lasses (and gents, I guess, if the human encyclopedia of guttural noises known as Adam counts as one), let’s quickly summarize where we were at the end of season 3, shall we?

Hannah got a job at GQ writing advertorials, was awesome at it and actually showed growth as a character. Everyone made her feel like crap about ‘selling out’ so she promptly self-sabotaged by shitting on everyone she worked with and getting fired. She never consummated her relationship with the adorable Joe (Michael Zegen) and I still have not forgiven Lena Dunham for this. Then she got into the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, which is apparently a big deal. She’s moving away!


Marnie finally got over Charlie but promptly fell in love with Desi the Lumberjack Douche, cheater on girlfriends and cliché spewer. She is now trying to make this singing thing happen because being a musician is a much more sensible life goal than working as “pretty girl who looks depressed while telling you when an art gallery closes”.

Shoshanna was an asshole with absolutely no filter who thought that this was a defining characteristic. She finally realized that banging a million different dudes doesn’t make her sexually enlightened. Didn’t get her college degree so she can no longer lord her togetherness over her friends. May have Tourette’s.

Jessa went to rehab, got out of rehab, then befriended a saucy old British man. Tried to help an old lady commit suicide. I don’t even know. Both Shosh and Jessa were so underdeveloped and cartoonish that I honestly gave up on caring about them.

Adam is actually trying at life and doesn’t understand what’s happening to him because of it. Has a nutty sister who is now having a lovechild with Laird that will undoubtedly be very hairy and emotionally in-tune.


Ray now owns his own café. Is over Shosh. Also slept with Marnie, meaning he only has two more friends in that circle to sleep with in order to win “damaged girl sex bingo” (the prize is a dinner for two at a restaurant in Brooklyn that once got shut down for a Listeria contamination).

So now that that’s out of the way, let’s recap what happened on the season 4 premiere!

We open up at dinner, with Hannah’s parents saying how proud they are of her for getting into the graduate program. Left out of this speech is their joy at the prospect of Hannah writing about something other than that one time she pretended to be an Armenian refugee during knife play. Adam (being Adam) strolls in and uses the toast to remind everyone about how meaningless and random life is, thus belittling Hannah’s accomplishment. What a shithead.

Back at Hannah’s apartment, Adam stars in a depression drug commercial and moans about how the result doesn’t fit his artistic vision. Apparently it’s totally okay for Adam to become a corporate shill to make ends meet, but when Hannah did it at GQ, she was a sell out with no artistic integrity.


On another note: Adam didn’t even play a man name Mario with VD in his first ad, so he should consider himself lucky.

When Hannah mentions formulating a plan for their long-distance relationship, Adam dismisses his girlfriend for trying to create “drama”. Oh no you fucking didn’t.

Across town, Desi is nose deep in Marnie’s butt.

At NYU we finally get to meet the people that created a human being like Shoshanna. Similar to what they did for Jessa, the writing team here decided to endear us to Shosh by giving her shitty parents. As bitter divorcees, Mel(anie) and Mel(vin) jab each other with insults and speak on top of other people, implying that Shosh’s tendency to jump into conversations abruptly is a byproduct of her parents’ toxic relationship.


At Beady’s place, the artist’s daughter Ricky, hilariously played by Orange Is The New Black’s Natasha Lyonne, confronts Jessa. None too happy with her mother being nearly killed by a moronic drugged out-hippie, the daughter lays into Jessa for being an irresponsible asshole. The speech here was great, but I’m unsure as to why it was necessary for Ricky to be dressed up as an altar boy with an insatiable love of baseball caps.

Apparently still high on whatever drugs Jessa pumped her with, Beady gives Jessa a speech about how beautiful she is for being full of contradictions.

So… yeah I guess that big arc about Jessa becoming an adult through her interactions with Beady isn’t happening. What was even the point of starting this storyline last season if it was going to be wrapped up within the first ten minutes of this premiere? Bah. What a waste.

Somewhere downtown, Marnie and Desi perform at a jazz brunch. Is that even a thing? Why on earth is this a thing? Who are the people who want this to exist? The whole point of brunch is to get day drunk with your friends while eating copious amounts of eggs doused in hollandaise sauce. The whole point of jazz is to sip a drink quietly while listening to music in a public venue where no one can judge your wearing of a fedora. The amount of people that want both of these events to coincide cannot be high enough to justify a jazz brunch’s existence. I want an explanation.


Before the shit show gets started, Clementine arrives and apologizes for calling out Marnie’s boyfriend seducing ways. Oh poor, sweet Clementine, you beautiful maroon.

The gang is all there to watch the musical train wreck. In the bathroom, Jessa tells Hannah that it’s hypocritical for her to leave the city right after she pleaded with Jessa to stay in New York. Apparently moving away and not breaking up with Adam is somehow “pussying out”. Now for a normal person this rant is not only incredibly hostile, but it’s also ridiculous in its attempt to hold up New York as the only city that can help an artist creatively. But this is Jessa, so I’m going to bet that she’s acting out because she’s feeling abandoned by both Beady and Hannah. Normally I would empathize with this type of lashing out but let’s not forget Jessa is the one that left town in season two without telling anyone just so she could fuck off for a few months. So, sorry bitch, but your complaining rights have been revoked.

Back at the brunch table Rita Wilson continues to be amazing as Momma Michaels, singing along and futzing with her daughter’s hair more intensely than any Toddlers and Tiaras parent I’ve ever seen. The moment she yelled “she bangs, she bangs!” at Elijah I created a petition for her to be in every episode of Season 4.

While Marnie and Desi engage in the futile attempt of making people care more about music than bacon, Shosh apologizes to Ray for manipulating him into being in a relationship with her. The two hug and it’s adorable, much like Shosh’s new haircut (thank the fashion gods, no more hair donuts).

When a tiny child disrupts the performance, poor Marnie loses it and runs outside, the inexplicable gold feathers in her hair chiming against the wind. In a kind move, Elijah runs to her rescue and tells Marnie to give it a rest with the crying and the shaking, because art is not a place for wimps with onion-skin and she needs to stop giving a fuck about what people think.

Back at Hannah and Adam’s, Hannah tries to talk to Adam about their long distance relationship plan, but Adam refuses to engage. All right, so I may not love Adam, but Hannah is incredibly frustrating in this episode. If you want a plan, make one. If it bothers you that much that you don’t have a semblance of a strategy, you sit your partner down and you talk about things even if it makes them feel uncomfortable. You are both in this relationship, and Adam doesn’t get to have final say in it just because it’s unimportant to him.

The couple then has one of their most uncomfortable sex scenes, and this includes that time when Hannah had chola eyebrows.

In the morning, Marnie sweetly comes over with coffee and helps her friend pack. Adam, meanwhile, stays in bed without saying a proper goodbye.

Overall opinion: This was a solid, solid premiere for the fourth season, giving us a taste of character growth while leaving quite a few questions unanswered.

Over the past three seasons the show has shown a tendency to cycle through redemptive arcs for the characters, and it seems that after a season of shitty behaviour both Marnie and Shoshanna are on the upswing, becoming kinder and more likeable in the process. Sadly, I think this means that after a season of growth Hannah will be on the downswing, reverting back to a woman-child.

As for Adam, there are many ways to interpret his behaviour. One possibility is that he feels too overwhelmed by losing his girlfriend to actually talk about how they’re going to handle her being away (Hannah would love this explanation). Another possibility, however, is that Adam feels relief that Hannah is going away. As he’s said many times, being in a relationship with Hannah is difficult, primarily because they’re both challenging people individually. Will the relationship last? Sadly, I don’t think the lack of communication is a good sign.

Colour me intrigued, Girls. Bring on season 4.

Favourite lines:

Adam at dinner, wearing a leather jacket post-audition: “Apparently they meant more like Tour de France biker”

Elijah: “They are the laziest bulimics you’ve ever met.”

Hannah: “What are you thinking about?” / Adam: “I’m just listening. “ / Hannah: “Yeah, the maze of our future because that’s what I’m thinking of.”

Twerp ex-bf: “Let’s just hope she doesn’t quit her day job as the face of Eddie Bauer.”

Elijah: “What do Judy Garland and Lady Gaga both have in common?” / Marnie: “They’re both white?”

Elijah: “If we lived anywhere else I wouldn’t have to worry about seeing him because he would have already killed himself for being so small and gay.”

Hannah: “I think a vase just broke underneath me.” / Marnie: “A vase? You put a vase in the suitcase?”