(This article was originally published in The California Aggie)
There’s a lot to be said about the new aptly titled HBO series, “Girls”, and most of it already has been written by TV columnists, feminist critics, New York critics, feminist New York critics and other experts in the world of circle-scarfdom.
“Girls” is a show created by Lena Dunham. She stars as Hannah, a 24-year-old in New York who, at the onset of the series, is cut-off by her parents. Hannah lives in the very real world of unpaid internships, artistic aspirations and premature ejaculations. She and her friends struggle with relationships, dinner parties and trying to figure out if that stuff that gets around the side of the condom can give you HIV, which will then lead to AIDS.
There is a certain aspect to this show that is so relevant to me and our generation that it’s almost hard to watch because you already know how a scene will play out. I mean this as in it’s relatable, not predictable. When I asked a friend of mine what her initial reaction to the show was, she texted me, “I need to make life changes so I stop relating to this show.” And it’s true; in one hour of footage, HBO has shown the most realistic portrayal of the girls that I know that I’ve ever seen (and I’ve seen that movieThirteen).
The show does a good job with its depiction of the interplay between women and the sort of lexicon that friend-groups so impressingly create. On ranking the hierarchy of communication, Marnie says with confidence, “The lowest, that would be Facebook, followed by G-chat, then texting, then e-mail, then phone. Face-to-face is of course ideal, but is not of this time.” Similar interactions provide inside jokes about being a young adult in 2012, like the all but fake power of running a twitter account, or being embarrassed yet thankful that your parents still support you. There is some universal truth to Hannah that is wildly entertaining. It’s not a laugh-out-loud comedy, which makes the interplay of characters that much more realistic and subtly hilarious.
“Girls” is able to provide an entertaining depiction of twenty-something-year-old girls, probably because with all the sex and drama, twenty-something-year-old girls are pretty interesting when they stop obsessing over which brunch place to go to. It’s not a question of when the show will run out of things for Hannah and her friends to do, but if there is a broad enough fan base to carry the show. Hannah probably won’t resonate with people outside of major cities, and even in those cities, only a small minority will really pick up on her aesthetic as an average-looking, fashion-forward, aspiring author who has sex that is equally as awkward as it is casual.
Which is why the main criticism of the show so far has been its niche approach. Putting emphasis on the struggle of educated, upper-middle class, white twenty-somethings with an affinity for dinner parties is obviously going to receive some backlash. But the point of the show isn’t to depict every 24-year-old girl, despite what the title may suggest. Lena Dunham is depicting her reality, not the realities of other people in New York or the realities of girls in other situations in life.
And while I know each and every one of these girls, I do think that there is something about the show that is relatable to a lot of people who may not be hypochondriac English major about to be cut off from their parents.
It’s because at its core, “Girls” portrays young people who are doing their best to enjoy themselves while coming to terms with adulthood and less-than secure relationships. This narrative can resonate with pretty much anyone in our age group.
Hannah’s stoned proclamation about being the voice of her generation is more an ode to the somewhat silly idea that our generation is searching for a voice and the even sillier idea that our generation deserves a voice.
We don’t feel sympathy for Hannah, since our generation knows all too well what it’s like to be denied a job, or caught in between friends; instead its empathy, because we know exactly what she is going through — we’ve been there. We know it sucks, but it’s way cool that HBO is giving Lena Dunham a Sunday time slot to show it.