Watching "Girls" with girls: Has Hannah gotten too unlikable?

This week, we talk Gawker mockery, friend breakups and Hannah's reaction to death


Neil Drumming
January 27, 2014 7:16PM (UTC)

I'm calling this the mortality episode. When Hannah's editor, David Goings, is found face down in the Hudson River, all Hannah can seem to do is fret over the fate of her as-yet-unpublished e-book. The episode once again raises the question, how much of a selfish little shit is Hannah, anyway? Is she incurably insensitive and callous, or does she simply process grief more slowly than those around her? Can her boyfriend -- or his batty sister -- berate and badger her into being more compassionate? I chatted with a fellow "media-ist" about Hannah Horvath and the specter of death.

This week's "Girl": Erika Ramirez, 28

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Hometown: Tracy, Calif.

Job: Assistant Editor at Billboard

Adam or Ray: Adam

Favorite "Girls" girl: Jessa

Episode watched: "Dead Inside"

You're 28. I just turned 40, so I guess I think about death maybe a little more, but who knows. How often do you think about death?

To be perfectly honest, I thought about it yesterday. I was on the subway going home and I usually take the 2 or 3, back to my apartment, and I took the Q [an elevated train]. And I was like, 'Oh, my god, it’s going to go over the bridge. I don’t know what happens after it snows and the rails are all weird. I feel like lately I’ve been thinking about death a lot more, like as of last year.

Really? 

It’s weird. I think the more passionate I get -- the more I want to do -- the more I think about death.  I don’t know if it’s maybe I think I have a lot more to do, and a lot more to live for.

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So let’s talk about Hannah’s reaction to her editor’s death. 

I wasn't surprised with her reaction. I was more surprised with the way she lied at the end. I wanted her to, like, shake her and make her feel something.

Yeah, we’ll get to that for sure. There are people who have complained that Hannah is unlikable. I think the response from the creators of the show is, 'That’s fine. There’s nothing wrong with there being an unlikable female character.' But I think that the character at this point is so unlikable that it must be difficult to write in the sense that it’s like they are just kind of finding ways to highlight how unlikable she is.

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I guess she’s an unlikable character, but she’s also very … I feel like she’s very real. I mean, I don’t think I know someone like her, but I believe that there’s people out there like her.

Do you think you would have reacted very differently?

Yes. But I’m a very emotional person. I probably would’ve been more like Adam.

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So even if you were her age -- because Hannah’s only 25? 

I would’ve been way too emotional.

I’m sort of in the middle of that spectrum, if not closer to Hannah’s side. I’m fairly dispassionate. If someone who was guiding my book, or who was helping me with my career or something, if that person died, I believe that I might think, Man, what’s going to happen with my book? Or what’s going to happen with my career? I’m pretty sure I would feel that way. The difference between Hannah and me is probably I would not vocalize that. But that’s not a very big difference, you know? That’s just tact.

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Also, later on, so she did not feel anything while she was working, as if she just wanted to take the day off. I was very confused as to whether she really did feel anything.

I think they were very deliberate about making it vague. It can be, as she said at the end, a delayed reaction. In that last scene where she says, "It takes me a long time," you sort of feel sympathy for her, but then she just kind of lies outright for no reason. 

Exactly. It was the very end that kind of tripped me out.

I guess what I’m trying to figure out is -- and this can’t be answered yet -- but I just wonder if Hannah is just sort of a character study -- you know, this person is a sort of amusing, kind of dispassionate, kind of selfish personality. Or is it going somewhere? Are they building to something? I don’t know if that is going to be resolved at any point in time soon. That’s the thing I’m most curious about. I don’t need to like the people that I watch on television, but I like to feel momentum.

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Right.

So, for example, ["Breaking Bad's"]Walter White started out as a good guy and turned into a bad guy. And the worse he became, it wasn’t like I liked him less, because I felt like I understood where it was going. Part of the reason I do this column this way with someone else is I think maybe there are other people that might be able to help me understand the appeal of Hannah more. But so far what I’ve gotten from doing this column this way, in this manner, is people are very much telling me how much they like Adam.

I think that she will definitely turn into an unlikable character for me after the closing scene.

Really?

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I guess I could see why she retold the story to Adam, which was a lie. You know, how she said she was afraid that Adam will kind of see who she really is and  leave her. So I think she told that story in order to reassure him that she is who he wants her or hopes she will be. But it didn’t; it was so unexpected to me, and kind of cruel.

Adam attacked Hannah for getting the news off of Gawker. You work in media. Do you get your news from Gawker?

I visit Gawker, but that’s not the first site that I go to to get my news.

It’s like almost everything that she believes in, or supports, or is a part of is trivialized on the show.

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Being someone that’s within this industry, it was funny to see the reaction as to how maybe others look at Gawker and Jezebel.

I’ve been thinking about this. There’s something about Adam that I find a little false -- and it might be because I’m a cynic -- but I wonder if you think that maybe he’s a little too self-righteous at times. He’s obviously the voice of something on the show, either like a certain honesty, or a purity. I don’t think it’s naiveté. I think the writers like him. But for me it feels almost too ideal, I guess.

Yeah, but he’s still fucked up in a way. As concerned, as loving as he is to Hannah, it still feels like his mind is a little fucked up. He’s still a little erratic and crazy. So I can’t really give him that lovable label.

So he wouldn’t be a romantic ideal for you?

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Um, uh, no.

When he was chastising her for the way in which she might react to his death, she said she would be very sad. And he said, "If you died the world would blur, I wouldn’t know what a tree was." How did you react to that statement?

Personally loved it. But I also feel bad for Hannah because it’s not as if she said something crazy out of her character. She would be sad and disoriented. And that’s how a lot of people would say they would be if someone passed away, they’d be extremely sad. And I think that Adam is just so much more emotional and romantic than she is.

It just occurred to me now that he actually is probably more writer-like than her. That sentiment is far more literary than something Hannah actually said. It’s something that’s come up a couple of times in the previous editions of this column is we actually don’t know how good a writer she is. And it’s funny that they killed off her editor; the one person who loved her work is now dead. Let’s get to Jessa really quickly. Have you ever had a friend that you felt was just too toxic to be around?

Um, I’ve had shitty friends, yeah.

And would you ever cut them off so completely?

If that was my friend I would have to cut her off. I don’t know if I would fake my own death, though. That’s a bit much. I think she’s been that friend that just doesn’t always show up when she needs to show up for someone.

This is kind of a tangent – but that couple seemed really unbelievable to me, although I love Melonie Diaz. I just thought, when her husband or boyfriend walked in, that he looked like a Sprite commercial, or like a Doritos commercial. Did you ever see on "SNL" when Kenan Thompson did that character on Weekend Update, "the black guy in every commercial"? It was exactly like that. It kind of like blew that whole scene for me. And then I was kind of sad that Melonie Diaz is doing bit parts on "Girls" when I would rather see Melonie Diaz on her own show. I’m a fan.

I'm a really big fan of Melonie Diaz also. I'd like to see her as a long-term character.

Yeah. I don’t know if there’s a chance of that. I sort of doubt it based on that episode. Even the character’s name, "Season," was kind of temporary.

I was also confused as to why Jessa told Season that whatever good was going on in her life wouldn’t work out or something like that. It was really weird.

I have trouble understanding how some of these characters don’t seem to have any tact. You might feel like they feel, you might think like they think, but you wouldn’t always say exactly what you think. You know?  I feel like they say anything, no matter how hurtful it might be, or how inconsiderate it might be. And they express themselves almost completely selfishly, which I, I think it’s supposed to be an expression of youth, but I don’t know people who are like that, even at that age.

I don’t remember being that way. If anything, the older I got the more outspoken I was. I used to always watch what I said. Especially in those types of situations that all those girls were in in this episode.

I might not have had a very advanced sense of diplomacy, but I was very concerned about what people thought of me. And so, I never wanted to offend people, or upset people, or lose friends.  Let me see if there’s anything else ... I skipped over the Marnie stuff mostly because I know what happens in the following episodes and it will be more about her then.

I thought it was weird that Jessa smiled to herself when she was in the park after she told Season that her life would be ruined. I don’t know if it was a memory of good times.

It could be that she was happy about what she said.

She is a little bit twisted, so that could definitely be an option.


Neil Drumming

Neil Drumming is a staff writer for Salon. Follow him on Twitter @Neil_Salon.

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