Hello, I’m writing this now for a few reasons:
-I’m a white 20-something female filmmaker living in NYC, and therefore Lena Dunham is highly relevant to me, my interests and my career.
-Since Girls first started airing on HBO, I’ve been asked by almost every single girl I know (and many guys, too) what my opinion is on the show, to which I’ve always responded, “I haven’t seen it,”
-Until now, because I finally started watching it, and
-I’ve never, ever heard anyone say about Girls, “I don’t really like it” or “I don’t think it’s funny,” like one might say, “I don’t really like Third Rock From the Sun because I don’t think it’s funny,”
-I’ve only ever heard how much people HATE Girls and HATE Lena Dunham, like really, really HATE, and I find that phenomenon worth exploring as I attempt to examine my own feelings about the show.
EDITED: for length. Also I am aware there may be no new arguments in here, but this is my blog, so suck it.
Let’s start with what I like:
-The writing is funny.
-The cast is pretty good.
-I identify with some of the things that happen and/or are discussed on the show, like parties in Bushwick and worrying about HPV.
-The soundtrack is cool.
But I have some problems, and they are no different than most of the complaints I hear about the show, mainly:
-Not enough diversity. This is the 21st Century, right? We have the internet, a wealth of information and understanding at our fingertips, to broaden our perspectives about every topic imaginable. I don’t understand how ANY writer nowadays - even if he or she is “just writing about people they know” and that happens to exclude people of any other race, religion or culture that isn’t similar to their own - couldn’t feign enough interest to include a more diverse cast.
-The main characters are annoying, privileged whiners totally disconnected to what most people consider reality.
These attributes are similar to another HBO show called:
-Sex and the City,
-A comedy about privileged white women in New York City,
-Of which I have seen every episode.
The main difference between them being:
-The Sex and the City gals are pretty OK people for the most part (so they can get away with being white, stylish and self-indulgent for our entertainment).
-The girls on Girls are kind of awful and totally not sorry about it (which makes it difficult to look past the previously mentioned complaints).
In that sense, the girls on Girls are actually more similar to a show called:
-A comedy about privileged white people in New York City,
-Who are kind of awful and totally not sorry about it.
The main difference between them being:
-Seinfeld condemns its main characters by putting them in degrading but humorous situations deserving of their crimes against humanity, highlighting how pathetic and meaningless their lives are because of their selfish, petty ways.
-Definitely is self-aware of the selfish, petty ways of its main characters, and accordingly puts them into degrading but humorous situations, but seems to be is a little too stuck in the hipster trend of trying to appear cool anyway, to save face - so they’re not so much condemned as they are, say, taking a bad selfie on purpose and posting it on Instagram for the lolz.
-As a sitcom, Seinfeld plays everything for laughs, mostly about trivial stuff,
-Whereas Girls lets you get in a little closer emotionally by dealing with things like abortion and junk.
-Let’s take Hannah’s confrontation with her boss in season one. Her boss keeps sexually harassing her, but all of her female coworkers are OK with this because it comes with certain benefits. Hannah offers to sleep with her boss (“for the story”), gets offended when he rejects HER advances, then threatens him with harassment charges, all “WTF how dare he not wanna fuck me?”
-On a comedic level this works in the same way the average conflict on Seinfeld does (“You’re giving ME the it’s-not-you-it’s-me routine?”),
-But it’s instead about something real and serious, therefore the humor in this situation is more aggressive and more ironic than something you’d see on Seinfeld or most comedic programming.
In that sense, Hannah is truly a voice of our generation in that:
-We are painfully self aware of ourselves and everything that came before us,
-Which makes us referential in how we portray ourselves, whether we relate more to Carrie or Kramer,
-We have a sarcastic remark for every situation, and
-We use every mode of communication at our disposal, begging you to look inside us, on the condition that we put up both a screen and a layer of irony for protection, lest you look too close and see us at our most vulnerable.
In summation, Girls is vilified for traits common to a lot of beloved comedies, probably because:
-It’s not punishing enough,
-It doesn’t play for easy laughs as often,
-It deals with controversial subjects, and the nature of controversy is the designation of “sides,” meaning you will most likely fall on one side or the other.
Ultimately, I think:
-Girls is funny and compelling enough to continue watching, but as someone who grew up poor, who never had anything handed to them, who has no safety net should I ever fail to come up with the rent, I do find it irritating to watch people take their parents’ wealth for granted, because this is something I see all the time in real life, especially in this God forsaken city.
-Despite this, I do not HATE the show, nor do I HATE Lena Dunham or her characters because their lives are easier than mine and they’re not sorry about it.
-I think HATE is a very strong word to use against a 20-something girl who has a successful TV show on HBO that doesn’t involve vampires or whatever-the-fuck, because it’s extremely rare that ANY 20-something or ANY girl has a successful film, TV show or otherwise, so I feel like if anything she’s probably enabling other 20-somethings and other girls to have opportunities in the future just by doing what she does.
Last but not least:
-I don’t understand how anyone might think it’s acceptable to criticize this show in any way relating to Lena Dunham’s body or physical appearance,
-I don’t understand how anyone has the audacity to even comment on a person’s weight much less attack it, and yet I hear this kind of thing all the time,
-I don’t understand why people refer to Allison Williams as the “pretty one” when they are all goddamn pretty in different ways,
-I just don’t.
Now fuck off. xo