In creator Lena Dunham’s breakout HBO hit her character, Hannah Horvath, struggles with obsessive-compulsive disorder, paralleling Dunham’s own experience with the anxiety disorder. “I really wanted to look at the idea that Hannah wasn’t just a TV neurotic,” Dunham has said. “She’s a person with real, complicated mental health issues that she’s dealing with every day.”
Unlike other shows, such as Monk, that paint OCD as some kind of superpower, Girls stays true to its more quotidian manifestations. Hannah is fixated on symmetry and counting in eights, both behaviors triggered by stress. “They do a good job of showing the very paralyzing, pervasive sort of anxiety that’s experienced, when most people think it’s just occasionally being anxious,” Kambam says.
The show is also notable for touching on family dynamics; in one scene in Season 2, Hannah’s parents try to place blame on external factors, even though OCD is linked to genetics. “That’s a common reaction from parents. They feel like they did something wrong or somehow caused a disorder,” says Kambam.
(Photo: Girls, HBO/Facebook)