Lena Dunham announced that actor Andrew Rannells will be returning to Season 3 on Girls and will take on a series regular role in (the presumed) Season 4 when Adam Driver is slated to depart.
And this is nothing but excellent news for the HBO show which had a bumpy second season. Even those of us who have staunchly defended the show had to give some of Season 2 the side-eye. Here’s what I think Rannells will bring to the table. Let’s leave aside our righteous indignation over the idea that a show called Girls “needs” a male character to make it better. The show has always had strong male characters, most significantly Adam and Ray. It’s never been just the four girls. What Rannells’ Elijah provides that the other characters cannot is a funny and low stakes proxy for the audience frustration with Hannah and her issues. Though the show sometimes has characters call Dunham’s flawed lead out on her sh*t, it’s often done in an uncomfortable, highly-dramatic way that actually makes us feel sorry for Hannah rather than allows us to laugh together at her human and relatable foibles. So when Adam, Hannah’s parents or Marnie tell Hannah she’s wrong/bad/frustrating, it doesn’t provide us with any satisfaction. Elijah, however, has always been able to lightly hold up a mirror to Hannah and her issues and we need that outlet if we’re going to root for Hannah. And in order to enjoy this show, we need to root for Hannah. We don’t have to like her, but we have to want her to get her life together and succeed. Otherwise, the whole thing collapses under a dark tone that doesn’t at all blend with the show’s sharper comedic bits. Rannells brings the light. He brings the fun. I can’t wait to have him back.