Oh my goodness, GIRLS! Who would’ve thought that the most important thing to ever happen in our whole lives would be a TV show, let alone a TV show that we would love, hate, and then be “ok” with before we even saw the first episode. Life is so unpredictable. It does seem odd to me (only me, not to anyone else) that there was so much hype surrounding this show, and retroactively Lena Dunham’s 2010 film Tiny Furniture, when no one really cared too much about Lena Dunham’s 2010 film Tiny Furniture when that was a thing. Some people certainly saw it, and I’m sure it won the Sundance award for “Best” or something along those lines, but it wasn’t written about on every blog the way that every blog would make you think they wrote about it, with the way they’re writing about Lena Dunham’s Girls now. Why is that? Is it because Judd Apatow? Is it because Bridesmaids? (Yes, right?) Whatever the reason, it is certainly very much a thing. And we certainly have to talk about it and pick the whole thing apart after only watching the first 35 minutes of it, because we HAVE a job.
So I would first like to say that I did like Girls. Not as much as I thought I would, but definitely enough to continue watching. We are living through a Golden TV Era, so it’s hard not to be very judgmental of shows that probably would have been judged a lot more nicely if we all stumbled upon them in a Non-Golden (pre-Friends?) TV Era, like if we found out about Girls on a message board when we were in high school, but here we are. Gotta judge because The Wire and also Parenthood. Girls was very watchable, though! The characters were entertaining, though I do wish they were connected more than just each knowing Hannah or being someone’s boyfriend. So far it seems even more Hannah-centered than originally expected, and that expectation was very Hannah-centered. But I look forward to watching them. And Chris Eigeman was in it, which is perfect! And the parents (mom from Freaks and Geeks, dad from the TV version of Honey I Shrunk the Kids) were interesting and seemed like the most realistic humans,with a realistic human dynamic, out of any of them. Overall it is a Will Watch Again.
But, I do have a fair amount of problems with Girls as well. One problem — and I do feel like this is maybe a problem that has come more out of the “hype” rather than just a problem that would have existed naturally in the show — is the expectation of reality. How “real” the characters are supposed to be, and how realistically the show is supposed to portray being a young person surviving in the Big City either with or recently without your parents’ help. I’m just not sure what this reality is based on, given who is telling us about that reality. (Lena Dunham, daughter of artist Laurie Simmons, girl who has had a very good life so far in the not-being-broke department.) I certainly don’t think that because Lena and the actresses who play the girls in Girls (Allison Williams, daughter of Brian Williams; Zosia Mamet, daughter of David Mamet) are people who have never really known anything other than a comfortable/VERY comfortable life that the only roles they’re entitled to write about and/or play are those of girls with comfortable/VERY comfortable lives. I’m not sure that watching Lena Dunham live in New York and buy lunch every day would be much more interesting than watching her complain about not having money to buy lunch every day. But the problem comes in with the fact that Lena Dunham is writing this series about girls her own age who live a lifestyle that she has only ever heard about, and really not even THAT, BUT that she is writing it in realtime. Her life as it would be happening now, if she were broke. Stories don’t need to have perspective to be interesting, but I think that in general they do need to have perspective to be trustworthy and worthwhile. We can all see people living this life right now, just as well as Lena Dunham can. So I’m not sure that we need her as the representative to tell their (OUR?) stories.
Not only is the lack of perspective something that makes me question how worthwhile the “real” quality of Girls is, but also, who is this reality “real” for? (Other than Lena Dunham, I assume?) Do we all cuddle with our friends at night? Do we all take showers together in the morning so we can chat? Ladies? Are we all terrible? Would we all take the extra $20 left for the maid in our parents’ hotel room? Watching Lena Dunham be Lena Dunham is one thing (and that thing is Tiny Furniture), but watching Lena Dunham be Lena Dunham and tell me that it’s The Everywoman is a whole other thing, and a thing that is incorrect and confusing, at best. (At worst it shows just how insular Luna Dunham’s work is, that she perhaps truly believes this is The Everywoman, which doesn’t say much for her ability as a storyteller in non-Lena-Dunham-based stories.)
Finally, after watching the episode I realized that there wasn’t really a point that I laughed throughout it. Though there were comedic moments, like when Hannah had a cupcake for breakfast and the boyfriend walked in on them in the bathroom, they were not especially funny. So that is a problem. Girls is not terribly realistic or relatable, and it is also not terribly funny. So what then? Ladies?