Hannah takes a road trip on Girls

22:53, Jun 14 2012

Girls has been one of the most pleasant surprises on television this year, entertaining (and occasionally informative), even though I probably shouldn't have much, if anything, in common with any of the characters. But I have to be honest and say that last night's episode struck a nerve with me. It reminded me too much of New Zealand.

(Warning: spoilers follow from last night's episode of Girls).

In case you missed it, the episode follows Hannah (played by creator, producer, writer and star Lena Dunham) as she took a trip to her home town of Lansing, Michigan, for her parents' 30th wedding anniversary, going on a date with a local pharmacist, before landing at home in a horribly awkward situation and enjoying a pair of touching moments with her mother* and with on-off boyfriend Adam (the hilarious Adam Driver).

But it was some of the earlier scenes in the episode that made me cringe: Back in her home town for the first time in years, Hannah visits an old friend working at a coffee shop - the friend insists that she's going to get out of small town Michigan and succeed in Hollywood, while Hannah can only stare in disbelief at her delusional buddy, looking down from her "I've lived in the big city, I know what it's like" pedestal.

Later, as her friend takes centre-stage in a painful rendition of "Pretty Girl Rock" by Keri Hilson, Hannah has to bite her tongue to avoid saying something much harsher about how she felt about the performance (lacking originality compared to the creativity of central New York, for example).

These were just the most obvious examples - and this wasn't even really the point of the episode - but I couldn't help but think about New Zealand's "small town" mentality. Like Hannah's old friend, we're always looking to bigger and more exciting places for our cues; often, we don't create anything truly original (and when we do we don't really know how to respond properly), instead relying on what we see and know of the larger pop culture picture.

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People are always looking for something bigger and better. Being in Whangarei, I've met people who want to leave for hope and opportunity in the big city lights of Auckland or Wellington. I've also met people who've left smaller places (Kerikeri, Kaitaia) to come to Whangarei.

But then I've also met people from Auckland who still aren't satisfied, and feel the need to leave for the bigger lights and bigger opportunity of some far-off land; heck, we're celebrating exactly that notion on The GC. I'm convinced there are people in Sydney and London who are thinking of moving somewhere else.

The grass is always greener on the other side, after all. But as Hannah seemed to learn by the end of last night's episode, you can find happiness wherever you are. A rendition of some Keri Hilson song might look ridiculous through the big city lenses Hannah has adopted, but her friend was happy, content, doing it for the right reasons.

You can't argue with that.

Are you watching Girls? What did you think of last night's episode?

(*) I'll be going to therapy after that sex scene between Hannah's parents - played by Peter Scolari and Becky Ann Baker. Although, awkward sex scenes might be par for the course with the Horvath family, judging from Hannah's various outings in the series so far.

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