It has taken me almost til the end of the second season of Girls to “get” Hannah Horvath. I kept identifying with Hannah’s mother, disapproving of Hannah’s sloth, flightiness, financial dependence, promiscuity, risk taking, etc. I could see why it drove the mom crazy that her job as a parent still wasn’t over. I could easily understand why both parents were puzzled that their only child was not yet an adult at age 24, that she still hadn’t realized her potential, despite all of the advantages they clearly lavished on her.
Then came episode 5: “One Man’s Trash” and something shifted and I could finally step into Hannah’s shoes. What happened? Without recounting the whole episode, Hannah said the following (after being revived after fainting in the shower): “I made a promise a long time ago that I would take in experiences, all of them, so I could tell people about them and maybe save them.” Her words reminded me of someone. Holden Caulfield. I thumbed through my dog-eared copy of Catcher in the Rye and found the quote I was looking for:
“Anyway, I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all. Thousands of little kids and nobody is around-nobody big, I mean-except me. And I’m standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff-I mean it they’re running and they don’t look where they’re going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That’s all I do all day. I’d just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it’s crazy, but that’s the only thing I’d really like to be.”
Hannah is a slightly older female version of Holden Caulfield; a strangely innocent girl who is, in some cockamamie way trying to save people. She keeps putting herself on a precipice- a crazy cliff- trying to use her experiences to warn people she cares about- to “catch” those who are in danger. Danger of what? Maybe, like Holden, she is trying to save them from the perils- the “phoniness” of growing up, of succumbing to adulthood, of daring to be happy (and risking disappointment and disillusionment).
I can identify with that!
Although I have not seen this series, I do like that you have connected this twenty-first century female character to one of literature’s classic young bittersweet heroes. Does this mean that the program has redeeming value? And are you hooked on her trajectory? Keep me posted.