HBO’s new dramedy Girls (Sundays, 10:30pm) was everything I wanted it to be, and more. In fact, I hit play quite late at night, assuming I’d watch the first five minutes, then go to bed and save the rest for another day. Instead, I ended up getting sucked right in and watched the whole episode, without even feeling the need to putz around on the computer or mindlessly eat while viewing.
Lena Dunham, the 25-year old filmmaker and actress, is the star and creator of this highly anticipated series. She plays Hannah, a young woman pursuing her dream of being a writer while living in New York. The first episode finds her being cut off, financially, by her parents (an adorable Peter Scolari and Becky Ann Baker), and subsequently quitting/being let go from her unpaid internship. We are introduced to Hannah’s friends, BFF Marnie (Allison Williams), bohemian Brit Jessa (Jemima Kirke, who plays another bohemian Brit in Dunham’s acclaimed film Tiny Furniture), and Jessa’s cousin, Shoshanna (Zosie Mamet). Hannah also has a booty-call boy in her life who she wishes was more, despite the fact that he is a filthy, arrogant, ignorant, entitled, complete and utter pig. Who hasn’t been there before though, honestly?
Comparisons will be made to Sex and the City, another HBO dramedy focused on four female friends, navigating their lives around New York City. That was a wonderful show, truly. Try as I might to despise the glamorous group with dream careers and designer wardrobes that was Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte, I couldn’t. The excellent writing, stories, and characters always sucked me in and had me sympathizing/relating/feeling bonded with any or all of ’em. In Girls, that effect is even stronger, because these are REAL girls. The similarities to that beloved show are there, but without any trace of being a rip off or copycat. This is SATC for a younger, more jaded, unemployed generation.
Dunham is crazy fearless, which I find commendable and am terribly envious of. She simply has no vanity, and she doesn’t have the body of say, your average film star. Which is great, but unsettling – purely because we are not used to seeing this kind of reality portrayed in our living rooms (except when we look in our own mirrors). Was this her desired effect? I’d love to hear her answer. I don’t know what would have to happen for me to display my entire ass on HBO, but it would have to be pretty epic (unlike my ass).
If you’ve seen Tiny Furniture, the award-winning film she directed, wrote, and starred in, you’ll feel a familiar vibe. She has a style, a look, a feel to her work – quiet, awkward, uncomfortable, sad-funny. That film starred her real life mother and sister as her mother and sister, and portrayed the months following graduation from college, as Aura (Dunham), came home to feel out-of-place, with no career prospects, and general boredom/life malaise/hopelessness. It’s a good flick, but one of those where nothing really happens. In films like that, it’s all about how invested you are in the characters. I liked Aura, and wanted her to succeed, but she was kind of inert and made some crappy choices. I do recommend that film, but be prepared to feel uncomfortable, as the atmosphere is far more awkward and miserable than Girls‘. There’s a depressinggggggggg sex scene and loads of unflattering body shots. To which I say, hear-fucking-hear. I applaud her for being all, this is me, take it or leave it (although I have no idea if this is how she really feels. There’s a certain self-conscious aspect to her work as well; whatever she believes, she puts it all out there). I would certainly like to hang with her for a day, and see what goes on inside her head.
This show is seriously something special and different. What astonishes me is that it completely lacked that awkward “pilot-y” feel that basically every single pilot ever has. Even the ones that go on to become amazing shows. This felt like it had been on forever, yet simultaneously, was completely unique, new and fresh. The dynamic between the girls feels real, lived in, authentic. They made me want to be a member of their group. The writing was excellent – funny, without trying too hard (I loved the speech about why working at McDonald’s is something to be proud of), relatable (Marnie’s explanation of why she can no longer stomach the boyfriend who is crazy about her, while she feels nothing, was perfection), and honest (Hannah’s booty call with the boy who is just not that into her, will undoubtedly hit close to home for many a female – this one included).
As Entourage and How To Make it in America are done with their testosterone-laden runs, it’s nice to have some estrogen back on the HBO schedule. I’m always drawn to watching others struggle with the task of growing up, and seeing a group of women being portrayed as broke, miserable, and kind of gross was refreshing and encouraging. I am strongly suggesting you watch this – especially if you’ve got two X chromosomes.