Cushion (n.): The person who is (knowingly or unknowingly) brought along to make a stressful situation less tense and awkward with their presence alone.
How it’s used in the show: Jessa brings Hannah with her to visit her estranged dad and his girlfriend, Petula. Upon arriving, Petula says to Hannah, “I was so nervous about seeing Jessa because I know she hates me, and she hasn’t seen her dad in so long. So I prayed, and here I manifested the solution – you. You’re the cushion.” To this, Hannah replies, “Are you sure I’m the cushion? I’ve never done it before but I’m definitely up for it.” Although the interactions between Jessa and her father are already tense in the episode, Hannah provided some relief for Jessa and divided her attention effectively.
Most of us are guilty of subjecting our friends to the role of cushion at some point or another, whether we do it consciously or not. After watching this week’s episode of Girls, we found ourselves wondering: just how kosher is a cushion? Is it okay to rely on a third party to ease social tensions, or is that considered immature? Maybe cushions are okay in particular situations, but best used sparingly. As the case of Girls shows, the cushion is a godsend. There are certain times when we wish the cushion gods would answer our prayers, and there are others when we really shouldn’t be praying at all.