Martin and Doka (2011) define grief as a reaction to loss, which results from the tension caused by an individual’s desire to “maintain their assumptive world as it was before the loss, accommodate to a newly emerging reality resulting from the loss, and incorporate this reality into an assumptive world” (p. 18). In Western society, expectations for appropriate grieving reactions following the loss of a loved one are that emotional distress is expected and necessary following loss, that the emotions following loss should be worked through and that an intense phase of distress eventually ends, allowing closure and resolution. Furthermore, societal norms governing grief are shaped by gender, with women expected to be expressive in their responses to loss, and disciplined if their responses do not adhere to these gender-based norms. HBO’s Girls, created by Lena Dunham and co-produced by Judd Apatow, charts the lives of four upper class, white girls in their mid-twenties, navigating life in Brooklyn, New York. In Season Three’s Episode 4, “Dead Inside”, Hannah’s editor, David Pressler-Goings, is found dead, and Hannah’s reaction is to be more concerned about the fate of her e-book than the loss of her “champion”. Although Hannah’s non-normative response to the death of her editor could work to dismantle gendered norms of grieving through showing what women’s mourning practices might look like when not based upon the experiences of women who conform closely to patterns of heterosexual marriage where domestic commitments are privileged over an independent career, the responses of those around Hannah, particularly the men, function to reveal and reinforce traditional ideological codes about grief and grieving, and hysteria as a model of what “appropriate” grieving should look like for women.
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