Can you believe it’s already been nine months, two weeks and five days since Girls aired its Season Three finale?
Y’know, that cliffhanger episode where Hannah gets accepted into the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, allowing her to fulfill her lifelong dream of being a writer? The one that steers her complicated, yet beautiful relationship with Adam toward troubled waters?! I can believe it, because I’ve been counting. So let’s have a quick look back.
The characters of Lena Dunham’s Girls had a brutal 2013. It was a compelling year, soaked in high drama, but that didn’t make it an easy watch. With the higher stakes—life, death, love, GQ advertorial jobs—there were rougher coping skills. Bad fibs. Horrible, selfish justifications on pretty much everyone’s behalf.
When we left off, Hannah’s Grindr-loving Ebook editor David turned up dead along the Hudson River. Her grandma Flo (played by June Squibb) went a little more peacefully. She had a heart attack, but with two cheese sandwiches in her stomach. And Hannah’s Ebook slipped off in a sad, silent kind of death, which you can’t be too upset about—there’s an option to resurrect the thing in 2016. Then there’s Jessa, who reluctantly helped a photographer named Bedelia end her own life. That scene ended with Bedelia screaming for an ambulance. The second half of the season is so feeling-dense, you almost forget that Adam’s sister, Caroline (played by the great Gaby Hoffman), crushed a glass in her bare hand.
And Ray and Marnie started hooking up. Whyyyy.
But it wasn’t all life or death, or Ray and Marnie awkwardly bumping uglies in the Girls universe. There was Broadway, rehab and Marnie singing lots in public. As grating as it was, this whole trip also revealed the most about our four heroines, Adam, and Ray. And it left a lot of questions, too. For example, does Elijah have a chance with Patti LuPone?
Below, we’ve counted down five predictions for Season Four, which kicks off on HBO tonight. Share your own in the comment box below.
Hannah Horvath is a good writer. We’ve heard only a few of her pieces—once in a public reading (which she handled poorly), and other bits in her interactions with David. But through deductive reasoning, we can assume that she’s got the kind of natural talent that earns entry into a top-tier grad program, and a book deal at age 24. A good start. And we can assume she’s accepted the Iowa offer, based on the many, many shots of the state in the Season Four trailer.
But Hannah is not easily critiqued—in life, and especially writing. Every single reading so far has been prefaced with its own equally long explanation, which doesn’t work in big-room New York readings. It definitely won’t in a collegiate setting. Consider her pre-reading eruption at Marnie in Season Two, where Marnie criticizes the selected piece only for Hannah to blow up… and ultimately switch out the critiqued piece last-minute. Hannah falls on her face because of it.
So, can Hannah stick long-term to a two-year program where she’s essentially subjecting herself to criticism on a daily basis?
What should happen: She’s going to get feedback, and she’s just going to hate it. But she’ll be fine.
What will probably happen: Hannah gets bummed out after her first few readings. She ultimately takes criticism to heart, but moves forward with her pieces in a way that’s true to Hannah, which includes essays with titles like So…, Free Snacks Vs. Integrity: My Month as an Advertorial Writer and I Don’t Want My HPV: One Young Woman’s Battle with Pre-Cancer. She has to drop the program, feeling that it’s muting her own, God-given, undeniably unique and intelligent voice, but somehow ends up with a $4 million book deal with Random House, and becomes a national best-seller.
Back in Season Two, Marnie Michaels confided her greatest dream: To sing. And since then it’s been an awkward ride for everyone in her path. I hated watching Marnie sing in Season Two. Then in Season Three. I hated watching her music video. I hated seeing her yank a very uncomfortable Hannah to karaoke Rent tunes. Every time those vocal cords started moving, I cringed because—well, the Girl’s got a great voice but she could just take a note from that old jazz saying: Sometimes it’s about the notes you don’t play. Or sing. In front of huge gatherings of people celebrating something that has nothing to do with you. Maybe it’s me, but I cringed so much in Season Three.
See what I mean?
Until I didn’t.
The folk-centered duo she starts with Adam’s Major Barbara co-star, Desi (played by Ebon Moss-Bachrach), is a surprisingly good fit. They’re kind of like a lighter, made-for-TV version of The Civil Wars. So, what happens from here? And can her complicated relationship with the already-taken dude sabotage their undeniable stage chemistry?
What should happen: After Charlie up and left Marnie at the baked pizza altar, and after a lonely fling with Ray, she’s doing something for herself—even if it involves a guy she’s pretty ga-ga over. She’s got a great voice, and hopefully she’ll play for audiences who are inviting her to the stage. I’m all for it.
What we’re hoping happens: The act will dissolve after Marnie books and promotes a 45-date jaunt dubbed the “The Extra Special Treat Tour” without contacting any of the venues listed. It’s later pointed out that each date occurs at a private birthday party.
As confident and open-minded the very bohemian Jessa Johansson is, she’s rendered speechless late in Season Three when artist Bedelia (or “Beedie”) Sharpsworth asks for help. At first, the task seems easy enough (a boring cataloging situation). But Beedie really wants help ending her own life. At the time, the artist is confined to a wheelchair, and while this situation (hypothetically) would inspire Jessa to say something like “Don’t be such a baby, Hannah! It’s just assisted suicide,” the answer doesn’t seem as clear when it turns real. Especially when Jessa does agree, and we see Beedie screaming for her own life after the deed is in progress.
Also, HBO’s flat-out shown Jessa getting arrested.
Whether this is related to anything that happened in Season Three is still up in the air, and Beedie’s fate hasn’t been revealed. But wouldn’t it be crazy to see Jessa go to prison?
What should happen: Jessa somehow learns something from the whole thing, no matter what.
What we’re hoping happens: Jessa has learned one thing from her stint in rehab: how to form alliances in a confined space. After being convicted for ties to Beedie’s death, she heads to the federal slammer, forms her own posse in jail and later tries to botch her own parole hearing. There’s a scene where a tearful Shosh holds her hand up to the glass visiting window, panda Emojis printed on her fingernails—and Jessa explains that she “prefers the environment.”
She’s released early anyway. Jessa calls Hannah, asks her to rent a car (because she’s 25, now!) and drive the 1,000-something miles from Iowa to pick her up. Hannah calls her bluff, and Jessa buys a vintage motorcycle from a senior couple. She takes a cross-country road trip to find an L.A. paleta stand that came to her in a flu-induced vision.
The writing’s scrawled on the wall in red lipstick, somewhere not far from a Sex and the City poster. Shosh is near a breaking point.
After a semester of sexual awakening, school took a backseat for Shoshanna. She wasn’t immediately eligible to graduate, and just by three credits. Then she full-on mauls Marnie after she confesses her regrettable and stupid romp with Shosh’s most true love, Ray. This is all after she dates a long line of dummies who “can’t find the library.” And then, at the showing of Adam’s Major Barbara, Ray rejects her. The same Ray who tried reinventing himself for a year—first in the form of a graduate student, then as a Grumpy’s “District Chief Logistics Operations Supervisor.”]
Oh-em-effing-G. It has been a shit year for Shosh.
And then, remember drunk Shosh in the “Beach House” episode? The one where she essentially called out every instance of bullshit from the past season? Shoshanna is to Girls what Chief Bromden was to One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest: a silent, mostly reliable viewer of an insane world, even if we only see her accurate interpretations in a 30-second burst in the last season. People talk to her—er, more like around her—like she’s a “taxi driver.” She’s probably the only character on Girls who takes these experiences to heart—and does anything about them.
So, what does it all mean? The breakdowns. The Taxi Driver comparison. Devastating circumstances piled upon more devastating circumstances. Two core friends potentially gone from her immediate life.
What should happen: With Hannah in Iowa, Jessa in… wherever, Ray in the past and Marnie doing the folk artist thing, Shosh takes care of her college situation free of distractions and thrives in the professional world.
What will probably happen: Hannah asks Shosh to read one of her pieces before presenting it at the Iowa workshop, and Shosh discusses the pros and myriad problems the piece, which Hannah immediately debunks by saying: “It’s probably too intellectual for you, so… ” Shosh misses rent in February after Jessa requests a $3,000 wire transfer (“This is a matter of life and death, Shuh-shanna”). And Marnie invites Shosh out for reconciliation drinks. Marnie ends up blowing her off when she sees a Pitchfork article announcing that Charlie’s new band has signed to Sub Pop records. Shoshanna buries the hurt inside herself—way down, deep down—and makes a beach house reservation for the summer of 2015.
Between his bedroom language and constant state of shirtlessness, Adam was the definition of the kind of dude you don’t want to see your daughter end up with. He was unstable and seemed to mask perfectionism for what was really a lack of ambition. In Season One, you look forward to Hannah dumping the dude and washing her hands of him forever. But in Girls it’s usually not that simple, and that’s part of the reason many of us keep coming back to the series.
Adam actually turned out to be great for Hannah. I mark the beginning of the “Golden Age” of their relationship as the moment he goes sprinting through New York while she has an emotional breakdown via FaceTime. He’s also shirtless. It gave way to a new era of co-dependence, where Hannah helped Adam navigate an unfriendly world and Adam helped Hannah stay on top of her medication. He also made sure she ate enough protein. Since then, they’ve had their ups and downs—a pretty beautiful relationship being the up, the downside being Adam shutting Hannah out during his Broadway run and Hannah’s odd ways of coping with the situation. From the previews of the fourth season, we see plenty of Adam, so my assumption is that they’ll pursue a long-distance relationship, which will not be easy for these two.
What should happen: Hannah gets a real book deal. Adam goes on to star in many Broadway runs. There is room for two artists within their relationship. They live happily ever after. The Girls series credits roll.
What will probably happen: I can’t accept an alternative to this scenario.
Tyler is an assistant editor at Paste. His only experience with Girls comes thanks to HBO. You can follow him on Twitter.