Hero or Villain: We Decide #5 - Hannah Horvath
You only need to enter the words 'Hannah Horvath is' into any reliable search engine to discover just how hated the character really is. Remember, she doesn't have a licence to kill. Neither is she a Mafia boss or a drug lord, Hannah is a 20-something girl finding her voice in a big city. However, while the likes of Walter White and Tony Soprano can leave a trail of innocent victims in their wake few television characters evoke such feelings of revulsion as the character played so annoyingly by the brilliant Lena Dunham.
For a show as warts an all honest as GIRLS you would have thought that viewers would feel sympathetic towards Hannah. She's young and reckless like so many others trying to make their way in New York yet when it comes down to it she has so few redeeming features. She's selfish, narcissistic, insensitive, hopelessly hypocritical and self-absorbed to the point of losing everyone dear to her. That she hates everyone that loves her is to miss the point, not when she has pushed them to the brink too.
Over three seasons there have been so many moments when you despair at how she continually makes the worst possible decision. She's painfully frustrating in her self-loathing and the manner in which she brings down those that are dearest to her. There is dark redemption in seeing someone suffer because of her own inept social behaviour and though her path of destruction is on a much smaller scale this should not stray away from how insufferable she can be.
Hero - Um. Yeh. This should not take long. If anyone wants to suggest an example of Hannah Horvath performing something at least barely admirable then please leave a comment. For a girl still finding her way in the world she does show meagre signs of vulnerability and a witty, self-awareness. That's about it.
Villain - Where to begin? Firstly, there is her almost brutal manipulative behaviour, especially with men. The main target is Adam and even though he has his own quirks at least he shows a human, compassionate side with her. When she eventually decides that it isn't his choice that they should split you cannot help but feel sorry for the way Hannah had pulled him in then pushed him away. She can be heartless even when it seems she has got the man of her dreams in the rich doctor played by Patrick Wilson then looks to freak him out by begging him to demand she stay. Yet again viewers should find themselves shouting 'WHY?' at the television when this sort of behaviour is par for the course. She even pulls this crap on her own best friends as there was her fallout with Marnie despite the fact that she was paying Hannah's bills.
Not until season three do we find Hannah over-doing her own incredibly selfish behaviour. That she could put her own dubious writing career ahead of a man's unexpected death takes some beating. Such behaviour simply is not natural which brings into question whether there is something deeply wrong with Hannah's psyche rather than her simply being a little irritating.
Verdict - The term 'villain' may be overstating it but Hannah Horvath has so few redeeming, wholesome features it is a wonder she has any friends left. In the end it is all about her so when you should feel sympathy for her nothing but revulsion arrives. Clearly she has an element of self-awareness to her (most writers do don't you know) and this rarely comes to the fore in her own personal life, not when she continues to make such awful decisions. This is not about murderers or frequent, unnecessary nudity as viewers can forgive that. No, this is about a girl who pushes away those she needs most with her own selfish, self-absorbed behaviour. This is a girl so far removed from social grace it leaves the viewer stupefied as to how such a girl can be so socially inadequate. Maybe the fact that she simply refuses to realise the mistakes she makes is what we find unforgivable.
Quote - To her parents upon their decision to cut her off financially: 'This is nuts. I could be a drug addict. Do you realise how lucky you are?'