One of Lena Dunham’s stated influences in this coming-of-age series was Paul Feig and Judd Apatow’s Freaks and Geeks, and this episode makes clear that it wasn’t something she said just to be polite to her co-producer Apatow. He co-wrote “The Return,” and the episode shares the setting of Michigan — where Dunham’s Hannah Horvath brings her personal baggage (and laundry) for a fraught visit home — guest star Becky Ann Baker (as Hannah’s mom) and, above all, a rare sense for the bittersweet feeling of realizing you’ve outgrown your childhood. Influences aside, “The Return” is also pure Dunham. She can be unsparing about Hannah’s self-absorption (as a confidence builder before going out, Hannah tells herself, “You are from New York, therefore you are just naturally interesting”). Yet as Hannah comes to terms with the idea that her parents are getting older too, she shows a new maturity. Sometimes, “The Return” tells us, growing up is something that happens while you’re standing in front of your mom and dad’s fridge.
Next Homeland, “Q&A”