I’m going to start this off with the sort of statement that’s really controversial on the Internet right now.
I kind of loved the pilot episode of HBO’s new semi-sort of-sitcom Girls.
This show centers around recent-ish female college graduates in a major city that is both terrifying and thrilling that they are both totally game for and totally unprepared for. These characters are me. I really, genuinely enjoyed the pilot because they dress like me, talk like me, use circular logic like me, whine and make poor decisions just like me.
I also kind of really hated the pilot of Girls because these characters dress like me, talk like me, use circular logic like me, whine and make poor decisions just like me.
There are a lot of problems with Girls, with what it doesn’t do and what it could have potentially done (and I do, to an extent, agree with many of them), but for now, I want to talk about why someone may or may not like Girls as it does exist. These aren’t really likable or admirable characters. They aren’t necessarily not likeable, but this isn’t Anti-Sex and the City Starring Zooey Deschanel and All of Her Really Adorable Quirks Aren’t You Super Endeared Right Now? I don’t think Lena Dunham is trying to make me like or admire her characters, I think she’s letting me decide.
There’s a scene about five minutes into the first episode where Hannah’s hanging out of the bathtub to eat a cupcake where, as a person who spends most of her weeknights with cake-in-a-mug, Netflix, and little to no dignity, I laughed uncontrollably about how weird and great and recognizable it was. A few minutes later, Hannah’s accidentally quitting her internship because she mistakenly thought she could just ask to be a paid employee, and I’m howling in secondhand embarrassment.
I’ve done the whole obnoxious “I’m definitely a Carrie, but sometimes I’m a Charlotte, and you’re totally our Samantha” thing that I think is contractually obligated for all self-deigned pop culturally savvy females in the early 20s to early 30s demographic. (And it’s pretty wonderfully thrown into the dialogue of Girls, I have to say.) And this show has the same sort of identifiable nature for twenty something girls that makes it easy to say “Well, I AM Marnie, but I’ve got a little bit of Hannah going on.”
Identifying with the Sex and the City women had this fantastic detachment that comes with Sex and the City because it is the escapist version of our lives. I can recognize bits of myself in those characters, but I’m not seeing myself in my actual reality, and that’s what makes Girls great to me, but it’s a little disconcerting and a little uncomfortable. And that’s probably the best word to describe this show. It’s uncomfortable. I know every single one of those characters. Their lives are embarrassing and sort of immature and bumbling, but as someone who once fashioned a popcorn bowl out of a cardboard box just to avoid giving her roommate the satisfaction of washing the dishes, I feel don’t have a lot of room to talk.
When Hannah says to her parents she’s the voice of her generation, it’s not really meant to be taken seriously, of course–she’s high when she says it. But she sort of means it. And she sort of is. She’s sort of speaking for a subset of generation, and she’s speaking for the stuff we want to claim– the witty, quirky, intelligent quips– and the whiny, kind of childish, misguided bits of us.
So it’s kind of like watching a trainwreck. I’m pretty sure that’s what they were going for. And I’m kind of into it. I’ll be watching next Sunday, with a pillow close by to pull over my face when the self-recognition hits me too hard.