'Girls on Girls (+ One Guy)' Podcast: A Mother's Death and Sisterly Warfare
Hannah experiences a death in the family as sweet Grandma Flo passes away, sending her daughters into a flurry of familial chaos.
Death is on the brain a second time this season, as Hannah's Grandma Flo (played, in a wonderful guest appearance, by Nebraska's June Squibb) rests on her death bed. Sisterly warfare commences among Hannah's mother and her sisters, while a cranky cousin rehashes a not-so-fond memory between her and Hannah. And are those wedding bells we hear for Hannah and Adam? Not so fast! Podcasters Jessie Katz, Rebecca Sun, Brandon Kirby and Pret-a-Reporter editor Erin Weinger unpack it all in another episode of Girls on Girls (+ One Guy).
Below, find the transcript and full audio of this week’s podcast, part two of Girls on Girls (+ One Guy):
Erin Weinger: Today we are discussing Episode Nine of Girls, simply titled “Flo,” which had to do with Hannah’s lovely little grandmother.
Jessie Katz: Grandma Flo. Not Aunt Flo. Grandma Flo.
EW: Yes, Jessie. Grandma Flo, who was played by our beloved Oscar nominee June Squibb, whose cheeks I just want to pinch every time I see her.
JK: So cute!
Brandon Kirby: Her skin is like kittens’ fur.
JK: Kittens’ ears, I think, is the quote.
Brandon Kirby: Even better.
JK: She even looked so cute in that hospital bed, dying of pneumonia.
EW: Poor woman. She’s so cute always. God wiling I live that long and look like that, and someone’s just pinching my cheeks. I hope. So this episode was a little emotional for me, as I’m assuming for all watchers. Grandma Flo was in the hospital. Hannah had to go Upstate to visit. We witnessed something that’s a very big part of your 20’s. If you’re lucky you get to see your grandparents live that long. It’s something everybody goes through at some point. You have to visit your grandparents in the hospital, and deal with your parents and your family and your cousins, the whole thing, during a very trying time.
JK: I have a question: does this episode count as a bottle episode?
BK: Yeah, this is a bottle. The bottle is the hospital.
Rebecca Sun: Well it’s a bottle but it’s also the kind where it just takes place in an entirely unfamiliar locale.
BK: Like “Beach House.”
JK: But “Beach House” wasn’t considered a bottle, was it? Because all the characters were there.
JK: So does Adam break the bottle?
RS: It’s not a bottle because the characters aren’t all bottled up. It’s just Hannah getting taken to a different place and the whole thing takes place outside New York City.
BK: I just love how the aunts and the cousin all get introduced and within these 30 minutes they have their own little arcs and it all gets sealed up. It’s so well done and so well written, the way it handles the family, and it’s funny and also very, very sad.
JK: And also Hannah has always had issues with her own mother, and now you get context for why her mother might not be the best parent, because she maybe didn’t have the best mother herself. It’s that vicious cycle of bad parenting.
RS: You could almost look at it from a different angle, which is, do we really have terrible parents, or is this a cycle of constantly looing backward and blaming your parents for whatever failures are in your present life? Not because I think people’s parents are better than they think they are, but I think there’s a natural engrained sense of entitlement, that parents are supposed to be good, wise and nurturing, but do we feel like wise, good and nurturing people? Not necessarily. We feel like totally flawed human beings and are holding them to a different standard.
JK: And when do you let the grudges go? When your parent is about to die? What do you do with all of those feelings and resentments?
RS: Right! I thought that was one of the most profound statement’s in the show, at least for this episode, that Hannah’s mother says, “You think that you’re gonna have this moment when you have this breakthrough conversation with your mother, and then when she dies you realize that this conversation never comes,” and I think personally there are things where I think, “Man, someday my mom and I are gonna really hammer this out,” and at some point it’s like, “Well, how long do we carry that bag of resentment around?” It’s interesting because Hannah was really surprised that her mom saw her grandma in a negative light. Does Hannah blame her mom for anything in particular?
JK: I think she still resents her parents for cutting her off and not being there for her as much as she expected them to be.
RS: Oh, right. You know I’ve always had trouble relating to Hannah, but towards the end, when her mother made that extremely directly hurtful comment about Adam, that was one of those things when it was like, whoa, Hannah is becoming a woman, she’s had that right of passage when your mother hurts you in such a deep way that it gets real serious. It’s not about being petty or being a brat. It’s not about entitlement and wanting your parents to support you. It’s about this really real difference of opinion and lack of support for your life choices.
JK: But we’ll get to that later in the episode!
BK: So, categories.
JK: Hannah’s dress.
BK: For going out on a little date with her angry cousin.
EW: It was cute. It was flattering.
RS: It looked good on her.
BK: And the opposite? Her cousin.
RS: Just because you’re in medical school doesn’t mean you have to dress like a nun in training.
JK: I mean maybe if you were in med school in the ‘50s…
RS: But that covered-up white turtleneck under a jumper.
EW: The cousin seemed really angry.
JK: A lot of repression.
EW: She clearly wasn’t in med school to meet a man. I can’t see any other reason to go to med school with the malpractice situation in this country, but…
RS: This is why she only sees her boyfriend once a week.
JK: And was she going to see him with that outfit on?
BK: No wonder the boyfriend has another girlfriend!
BK: Fornication down: sorry, Cousin Rebecca. Can’t have a boyfriend with another girlfriend.
RS: Talk about you could do better! I mean Hannah’s mom was on her about Adam, but this guy won’t even give her two days a week!
EW: Here’s this girl who’s in med school, and her mother seemed like the sister who had her shit together, and appearances are so deceiving. That was the branch of the family that was supposed to be the polished one.
JK: Hannah’s mom accused Rebecca’s mom of only marrying her husband for his money. Apparently Rebecca is running in the opposite direction. She’s gonna earn her own money!
RS: From this brief 30 minutes of meeting these women you could really see how different they were. Hannah’s aunt married a guy for his money who turned out to be an inside trader. That whole, rich on the outside, total moral corruption on the inside. That’s how he raised his family thusly.
BK: We were going to have the insider trading man for Finance down, right?
EW: We were, but we decided that Grandma Flo was probably the Finance down here, cuz she ded.
BK: Oh right.
RS: You can’t take it with you, as they say.
BK: Just to have June Squibb’s plump little face on the Index we’ll have Grandma Flo as Finance down.
RS: Fornication up?
JK: Hannah and Adam.
BK: So Hannah freaked out about her mom saying, “Tell your grandma that you’re getting married.”
RS: She freaked out and then Hannah freaked out but he came through for her. Not only did he drop everything at her “car crash” text, which, FYI, if you’re able to, always provide more details, people!
BK: But he was there for her, and Fornication up all the way. They’re probably gonna bang tonight!
RS: Probably not because Hannah’s on her way back to her grandma’s funeral.
BK: Oh god, that’s right. Sorry!
RS: But I think it said a lot that not only did Adam show up but he was actually the one to tell Grandma Flo that they were getting married.
JK: So she died in peace, perhaps, because of Adam.
BK: I like how at first she was like, “I don’t want to meet anybody else,” which makes sense because she’s on her deathbed. But it turned sweet, it turned into Adam going in for that marriage thing, even though they had the weird phone argument before it.
RS: Yeah, sure, Hannah waking up her grandma in the middle of one of her last remaining nights of sleep was a little much, but I actually loved seeing Hannah’s interaction with her gradmother. It was very sweet and genuinely affectionate. We’ve been wondering this season about Hannah’s total lack of empathy when David died, but we could see that honestly she just didn’t have that kind of relationship with David. Whereas Hannah said, ”I’m not really that close to my grandma,” but when we saw them interact it seemed like a really sweet, loving relationship.
BK: That’s smart. I didn’t even think to tie these two deaths together.
JK: No, I totally forgot this was the second death of the season. Gold star, Rebecca!
BK: I just loved June Squibb’s line about marriage, that some day you will want him to die the most violent death. She was really just channeling her character from Nebraska.
RS: It’s interesting too because there are a lot of these truths that I wouldn’t assume that Girls would have, these very sort of core values, like when you marry someone the romance won’t always be there, you won’t always have that honeymoon period. It will veer towards the complete polar opposite. But if you stick it out that storm will pass.
JK: It was a very wise episode. Also what Hannah’s mom had to say about Adam – generally Adam has been the ideal boyfriend this season, we have applauded him often, but the things that her mom said are true. He is angry, he is very uncomfortable in his own skin, and that is a project. Hannah doesn’t seem to mind now, but…
RS: Also do you feel that Hannah’s mom comes from a place of experience? What her conclusion was, was that it’s very difficult to be married to an odd man.
BK: Her husband is super odd!
RS: He’s not angry but he’s odd, he’s awkward.
JK: He’s on the other end of the awkward spectrum.
RS: As her sister said, he had the body of a gymnast and the mind of a toy poodle.
JK: And his name is Tad. Tad Horvath?
EW: How could you even get past the first date with that?
BK: That body of a gymnast!
RS: I think that maybe Hannah’s mom sees the challenges she had in her own marriage and she wants to spare her daughter from that. She looked at Hannah and said, “You’re so special and you can do better than that.” That’s the kind of hurtful love that a mom can say. She hurts you because she doesn’t want to see you have extra difficulty in your life.
JK: And it’s also planting a seed and I’m curious to see if it springs up in other episodes, because mothers tell you something that you think you’ve dismissed immediately, and then it comes back to haunt you.
RS: I have never related more to Girls than in this episode.
JK: Yay! Breakthrough!
EW: This episode was very relatable. This past weekend I went to a funeral of my best friend’s grandmother and I noticed the friction in their family with the sisters, and I’ve been in this with my own family, and I think everyone has (sadly) a moment like this.
JK: It was true shit.
BK: A couple months ago I went through a grandma death. The stuff with the family is so accurate. At the end we were like, “We should do Easter!” You literally have to plan those things because if you don’t, with the loss of a parent those siblings will flee, they’ll be gone, you’ll never see them.
BK: I want to bring up Friendship. Hannah up, because for once in a social situation she was the bigger person, with Rebecca, who was just shooting her down. Hannah was like, “Do you want to get a drink with me? You hate me.”
JK: But let me just say, in Rebecca’s defense - I know this was Erin’s favorite part of the episode - Hannah inflicted her with chichi hands in various points in their childhood, and on this trip.
RS: That’s gonna be our new thing –
JK: Rebecca forbid me from using the” b-word” or the “v-word” in this episode, but now I have chachi.
BK: We have a c-word!
JK: And not the c-word!
RS: Hannah loves chachi. Just like Joni. But yeah I love that moment where after all the family drama dies down, it’s just Hannah and Rebecca left in the hospital hallway, and Hannah symbolically reaches out and grabs Rebecca’s hand.
EW: On the downside, the group of the sisters.
RS: Hannah and her sisters!
JK: Hannah and her (mom’s) sisters.
EW: We saw arguments over engagement rings, people knocking each other for not having children, all kinds of shenanigans that sadly came out at a time when you would hope family would be together.
RS: When your mother is naked and dying upstairs.
JK: Naked and dying!
EW: She is naked. So maybe she should be the fashion down.
BK: No! She’s dead! Poor June.
RS: We wanted to include that particular sister drama, but certainly Rebecca was a bad or incapable friend. Hopefully she’ll learn a little something from Hannah. The sisters did also learn something. Hopefully they’ll be able to patch things up.
BK: It was a great cracked bottle episode.
RS: Cracked bottle is a great way to put it because there were girls in this episode. Not the four we’re used to.
BK: It’s like they’re the older version! Sissy was Jessa.
RS: And Marnie was totally Rebecca’s mom. And Shoshanna was Rebecca herself.
JK: Yeah, totally! Socially awkward…
RS: Extremely academically driven, Type-A….
BK: Oh my god, did we just solve something?
RS: It does show that you’re able to take that show out of its young, hip, New York urban context, and make a real episode about true, resonant family dynamics, emotions, circle of life, the way Hannah put it. It’s a universal story line.
BK: Second fave episode of the season behind “Beach House.” You heard it here here! Here here?
JK: Here, here!
EW: And on that note, we will see you next week. June Squibb will not.