Down For The Count: The Realities of OCD on HBO's Girls

HBO's Girls OCD

eight isn’t enough

Pulling away from its misguided image as a millennial Sex And The City and battling more toward a bona fide dramedy with its own bold voice, the past two episodes of HBO’s Girls have turned television’s cliched anxiety antics on their ear [heh], and revealed Hannah Horvath’s crushing OCD. [Spoiler alert: If you’re not caught up to episodes seven and eight in season two of Girls, don’t read on.]

Hannah doesn’t have the dainty kind of the disorder where it’s cute that her closet is color-coordinated, or the labels need to be facing outward in the pantry; she has the jam-a-Q-Tip-in-your-ear-till-you-bleed kind. Consumed with the number eight, she counts objects out to the amount or repeats actions by multiples of it. She has parents that can spot the onset of symptoms in their doted-on daughter and are worried for her. Having been isolated to work on her book, the audience doesn’t know yet if she’s confided to her friends in the past or if she will now. But we do learn that she has dealt with significant sexual compulsions and is acutely aware of her self-abuse. Though we don’t know to what extent, Hannah’s struggle apparently mirrors creator, writer, and actress Lena Dunham’s own. Following the first OCD episode,  Dunham tweeted: “Really grateful for all your beautiful reactions to the OCD on tonight’s girls. This site helped me as a young lady:

Dunham tweeted: “Really grateful for all your beautiful reactions to the OCD on tonight’s girls. This site helped me as a young lady:

While other female role models from actress Megan Fox to author J.K. Rowling have also opened up about their battles with OCD, Dunham is being applauded for allowing her show to really spotlight the dark realities of it.  At Psychology Today, Dr. Jeff Szymanski, PhD., found her portrayal particularly sobering. “As someone who has treated individuals with OCD for a dozen years, it is hard to watch the cartoon-like depictions of individuals with OCD in television and film — whether they are portrayed as eccentric, sociopathic, or dismissively (just another hand washer). Having seen thousands of individuals with OCD, to know firsthand what this disorder does to them, to their lives, and to their families, is really quite heart breaking. So, when I began watching the scene between Hannah (played by Dunham) and her parents, I was pleasantly surprised.”

On a show now infamous for its raw vulnerability, did seeing such a stark depiction of OCD make you feel uncomfortable or empathetic? Maybe a little of both? With the season coming to close, can we hope to see Hannah’s strife alleviated or will her downward spiral continue? Casandra Armour


+ Leave a Reply