Of course, these episodes haven not been perfect: the first suffers from an embarrassment of riches, with Dunham introducing so many new plot lines that some scenes feel shortened or awkwardly ordered. But most of these plots are quite well drawn. Impressively, in the first two episodes of the second season Dunham has managed both to engage with the critical discussion that surrounds her work, and make an argument for why her show transcends it.
Perhaps the most surprising new character is Donald Glover’s Sandy, a black Republican love interest for Hannah who seems deliberately designed to deal with critiques of lack of diversity. That storyline’s climax, both riveting and somewhat painful for the viewer, is indicative of the talent Dunham displayed at her best moments last season. And the following immensely tense scene with Hannah’s ex-boyfriend Adam suggests that the second season’s peaks could be even better than the highlights of last season. As it matures, Girls’ quality may soon overwhelm its criticism.