Millennial auteur Lena Dunham often brings far more nuance to her HBO show, Girls, than she manages to demonstrate in her own hyper-partisan public persona. Returning for its fourth season, Girls transplants Dunham's character, Hannah Horvath, from New York City to rural Iowa, a perfect venue to put the contradictions of campus culture on display. Hannah enrolls in a creative writing program at the University of Iowa, where she confronts some unsettling realities. Initially concerned that her edgy fiction will "trigger" her fellow students, she finds they're merely offended at how bad it is.
Back in NYC, her friend Jessa and boyfriend Adam drift aimlessly. The show's voice of reason, Ray, chides them for not being more responsible. Girls refuses to let its characters off the hook for their delusions and immaturity, suggesting that Dunham is more self-aware about her generation's foibles than her critics think.
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Girls Pulls the Trigger".