'Girls' Star Breaks Down Hannah's Family Bomb: "It's a Mess"

Girls S04E08 Peter Scolari Still - H 2015
Craig Blankenhorn

Girls S04E08 Peter Scolari Still - H 2015

[Warning: This story contains spoilers from Girls' season four episode, "Tad & Loreen & Avi & Shanaz."]

For the second time in the past three episodes, Girls spent a good portion of its episode on a storyline that didn't directly involve one of the four leads. This week, viewers got a glimpse into the lives of Hannah (Lena Dunham)'s parents.

The episode began with Tad (Peter Scolari) and Loreen Horvath (Becky Ann Baker) leaving what the latter deems a successful therapy session. After she goes on and on about the progress they made, Hannah's dad drops a bomb: He's gay.

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Tad's revelation shocks Loreen, who spends the rest of the episode struggling to understand, including some awkward moments at dinner with their friends Avi and Shanaz (hence the episode's title). The development also casts a new light on Tad’s advice to Hannah in Iowa. And it, humorously, makes Elijah's first-season “Your dad is gay" retort seem eerily accurate.

Hannah's parents don't share Tad's revelation with their friends, but Loreen does tell their daughter in the final seconds of the episode, even though she initially insisted she wouldn't. "Hannah, your father is gay,” Loreen tells her daughter over the phone. "Uhhh," she responds as the screen fades to black. She'll have a more complicated reaction in the next, penultimate episode of the season.

The Hollywood Reporter spoke to Scolari about Tad's coming out, what's next for his character and what Hannah's dad would say about her behavior with one of her students.

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When were you told that this was the direction the writers were going in with your character?

We were filming the first episode [of this season]. Lena and Jenni Konner said [to me and Becky Ann], "We need to take you aside and ask you what your schedules are for the year for the spring and summer upcoming because we have some things planned." We were asked to clear the decks schedule-wise for the next six to eight weeks because they said we're going to have a whole lot of shaking going on.

And when did they tell you that they were going to have him make this revelation in this episode and in this way?

We took it in stages, but the whole passage of time was not much more than 10 minutes: "First of all, we're going to tell you about this marriage that is coming to an end." We were shocked. And then there was a discussion about who was going to end the marriage, and it turned out, of course, that that was going to be me. They said, "It's because Tad, after all of these years of marriage, is going to come out."

When he does tell Loreen that he's gay, he just sort of blurts it out, as they're leaving therapy. Why does he feel like he has to say it then?

My belief at the time was that the very success, the real success of the therapy session was what pushed him over the edge because this was not what was in his brochure for his own experience. All the good news about Hannah and how her life was beginning to sort out … Loreen getting tenure … [that was all] just a nightmare. Each one [of those things was] ticking off so many cylinders in a revolver he wants to put to his head like, "This isn't my life."

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After Tad tells Loreen, they go to dinner at their friends' house and they don't discuss any of this. Why don't they tell their friends what's going on?

[I think they think that] they can no longer represent themselves honestly. They've lived their life [for many years] as a couple, in tandem. And Tad, in his naivete, can't imagine why this would take away their partnership. I think perhaps in his thinking is, "We're still these parents; we're still these friends; we still know each other; we still love each other." I think the horrible shock for Tad, which he'll be continuing to contend with is [Loreen thinking] "You have created this new paradigm and I hate you for it.” Arguably, on Loreen's side, there's no compassion, no understanding, no, "Oh, I love you. You've come to this place and it must be so difficult and thank you for sharing this personal truth." That's what Tad might have expected … [Her thinking] "You've taken my life away" is what's happening. It's a mess.

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Have the writers given you a sense of where they'll take your character?

A little bit. Sometimes in life things have to get as bad as they can be before they get better. Things don't get better in the last episode [of this season]. Things don't resolve. [But I was told,] "Don't worry, we're not going to leave you out there in the wind."

Another thing that’s happening is this peer-like friendship Hannah’s developing with one of the girls in the high-school class she's substitute teaching. What would Hannah's father say about this?

I have a really visceral paternal reaction to the things that I see when my wife and I watch Girls. I get very upset as the actor who plays Hannah's father. [I find myself thinking] "That's just not acceptable and if I had known that was going on, what would I say to her? This is not how I raised you. This is unacceptable. You've gone against what we've tried to teach." There's some, what I might deem as a parent, very unacceptable behaviors and choices and judgments.