If you haven’t heard anything about this show, I don’t know what rock you’ve been living under. These girls faces have been everywhere. On television, magazine covers, in the newspaper, being referenced in daily conversation. It’s a bit crazy. Judd Apatow (You know…the guy that has produced EVERY funny movie in the last decade – Knocked Up, Pineapple Express, Bridesmaids, 40 Year Old Virgin, SuperBad, the list goes on and on) is the shows executive producer and a big supporter and fan of the show’s star-Lena Dunham. Lena Dunham serves as the captain of the crazy boat you are on when you watch Girls. It’s a loud booze cruise and you’ve drank too much, feel sick, are tired of the screeching music, your feet hurt, people are getting ridiculous, but you kind of want to stay on the boat to watch the shenanigans continue. This is what Girls does to you. Dunham, from a feminist perspective, is an astute and talented woman. At only 27, she writes, directs and stars in Girls.
Girls follows four 20-something-year-old friends through their young adult life journey in New York. Boy is their life a bumpy ride. Any embarrassing 20’s moment you wish to forget or to have never heard about from a friend is what you are watching on HBO. As a 25-year-old I began to watch the show because the show captures a bit of my generations struggles. We have all gotten out college degrees, but have found ourselves trapped at a road block trying to figure out what direction we want to take and if careers are even available to us down the routes we want to take. It’s not like my parents generation, or the generation before that, where you go to school, graduate, get a job in your field of study, get married, have some babies, and maybe a dog and a house. Now, companies want 5-7 years of experience and my generation is taught that we have more options to create our own career paths. Most people in their 20’s and early 30’s are still getting financial help from their parents in order to keep living the way they want to live their life. This show promotes some more of that behavior. Most (well, pretty much all) of the time I watch the show I am just annoyed by all the characters and their narcissism and/or immaturity. I just want to hop in there and say “get your sh** together already!” After talking to some of my friends I’ve come to the conclusion that we all feel the same way. Why do we keep watching?
These girls are awkwardly trying to figure out life after college. Hannah, played by Lena Dunham, is the most annoying of the bunch. Her voice is so winy that I find myself wincing every time she speaks. She is an aspiring writer with OCD, that feels sorry for herself a little too frequently. Her boyfriend, Adam, is a muppet-looking guy who loves Hannah in a weird way but is also extremely full of himself and just all together strange in the way that you would never want to introduce him to your parents. They don’t have what you would call a “healthy” relationship. Shoshanna, played by a talented young actress Zosia Mamet, is a fast talking, good student, prude-ish (compared to her friends), girl who ends up going all out in later seasons. Marnie, played by Allison Williams, is that person you know that thinks they are so pretty that everything should just happen for them. She wants what she wants and doesn’t really care how desperate she’ll look or if it isn’t the most opportune moment for something. I cringe every scene she’s in. Jessa, played by Jemima Kirke, is my favorite character. She is an English, free spirited, druggie that doesn’t really have beef with anyone but herself. In my eyes she’s the most likable of the bunch.
The show has been compared to Sex and the City in the way that it is set in New York City following every aspect of 4 women’s lives and their friendship, career experiences, relationships, and sexual encounters. As a young woman, I thoroughly enjoyed watching SATC. The women were confident, independent, and talked about sexual taboos in ways that had never been done before on tv. Though there were some shallow moments revolving around men and fashion, it was a show that paved the way for women to stand on their own. Unlike Sex and the City, the Girls group of friends don’t even seem to really like each other. Other than Jessa, they dislike being around each other and talk about complain about each other to their significant others. Not really the best example to follow on female friendships. All these girls (with the exception of Shosh) seem to want amazing life accomplishments to fall into their laps without having to work for it and when it doesn’t go the way they want it to, they quit and stomp around in a tantrum. I’m hoping that no young high school girls are watching this show because boy are they going to have poor role models and misled concepts about life.
Lena Dunham does not shy away from nudity in the show, which has made her the topic of many discussions. After a sexual escapade, while she’s changing, showering, or just walking around the house, we see ALL of Lena. I admire her bravery and her objectives of wanting to portray an average, full-figured American woman nude. She is breaking the size 0 prerequisite for being unclothed in the media. I have never been as fit as I want to be so I identify with her goals to ease a woman’s self image struggle. I would rather die than show my naked figure to the entire world enabling them to critique every ounce of fat or blemish, but she continuously does it. I always start thinking “good for you!”, but then it slowly trickles into “well now you’ve just gone too far”. Though I strongly admire her confidence, I think she can encourage woman to be more confident in their bodies a teeny bit less. Once being nude during a show is fine. But if I have to see her breasts, or butt MULTIPLE times in the short half hour span, I get a bit overwhelmed. Too much of anything can be bad and overdosing on Dunham’s figure is a sure way to kill my interest. It isn’t necessary at that point and is more distracting to a viewer, then adding to the plot or to a feminist objective. In other words: the nudity is overdoing it a bit. I don’t ALWAYS need to see her nude during an intimate moment, or when she changes her outfit. I hardly think I’m naked that often in real life. Pretty sure I see her body more than I see my own.
After some episodes I find myself asking myself, what on earth was that about? The characters are all so immensely self-absorbed that you rarely see one do something selfless for another character. These girls are struggling to find themselves and that struggle makes them a bit relatable. Other than the struggle, I don’t see myself relating to any of the girls. SATC had that attribute. You could be a Samantha, Carrie, Miranda, or Charlotte. The women on Girls all fall flat in that regard. Yes, they all have their own struggles and quirks, but they are all so vain and egotistical that I’m unable to see anything else. Is this really how women of my generation are? I sure hope not.
The show focuses on young people’s most negative qualities. Why would anyone want to watch a show about that? I don’t really know the answer. Why is Girls so addicting? Unfortunately, I can’t really explain it. I think what is captivating about it at this point is that it’s unique. As a women, I want this show to do well, but it’s hard to endorse it to others. It’s depressing if this is how the majority of people (not just women) act. It’s crass in ways that you find hilarious at some points and revolting at others. It’s that car crash you just can’t stop watching. If you haven’t started watching the show, I would recommend you not start at all. It adds absolutely no value to your life (in fact, it probably takes away some) but I’ll probably find myself tuning in when it comes back again next season. Someone pull the plug on my HBO subscription.