Girls, Girls, Girls — Why everyone needs to have their say on Lena Dunham
The premiere of HBO’s newest sitcom Girlswas on Sunday night, but at this point, I don’t really remember a world where people weren’t talking about this show. There might have been a time where my subway ride was plastered with Garfield posters instead of Lena Dunham’s expression of disillusion, but I don’t really recall it. There might have been a time where me and my 20-something urban comrades went unrepresented, living under the radar as we listened to Feist and went to brunch, but now everybody knows our secret:
We’re all “self-aware, but not as self-aware as they think, and aware that they’re not as self-aware as they think.” You nailed it, Vulture. You nailed it, Girls.
When I opened my computer on Monday morning, the internet was such a virtual watercooler of opinons on this show, I half-expected my favorite food blog to feature a quirky Girls theme cupcake. AV Club rated it an A, citing that “this feels like HBO’s answer to Louie, and though it’s not as free-form as that show, a lot of the same elements are present: a slightly melancholic tone punctuated by the occasional bit of oddball humor, a strong central voice.” Gawker noted the show was about a “small girl with a big mouth.” While the reviews were mostly positive, they came in quirky truckloads and droves, and one needs to wonder: why?
Why the focus on Dunham? Is it because she’s an indie darling? Is it because people really care about Judd Apatow (a producer of the show)? Or is it because people REALLY root for ladies trying to make it in the big city?
The answer to THAT question is “no way.” As a reviewer on Gawker puts it:
Girls is a television program about the children of wealthy famous people and shitty music and Facebook and how hard it is to know who you are and Thought Catalog and sexually transmitted diseases and the exhaustion of ceaselessly dramatizing your own life.
This is fine, because nobody really should be rooting for Girls. Ladies like us don’t deserve to rooted for.
Lena Dunham is an underdog in exactly the way as everybody she’s representing: we’re not underdogs. We may feel like hipster spinsters in Manhattan bars, and we may not have perfect hair, but we’re going to be just fine. It’s no surprise that The Playlist calls Girls “one to watch,” because why wouldn’t The Playlist say that?
There is also no question in my mind that everybody in this show will be just fine. There are few –if any–stakes. When Hannah (Dunham) is cut off from her parents, the thought isn’t “will she be homeless by episode three?” You know she won’t be hungry, or desolate, or ever really do without. You know she’ll still be complaining about being poor by the season finale without ever hesitating to write a check for her rent.
Okay, so if there are no stakes, and the characters aren’t underdogs, are they worth watching? The answer to that is “not really, if I described them to you.” They are sometimes obnoxious and often cringeworthy, like Kenny Powers if he wore thrifted skirts. They are real as heck, and nobody’s been lining up to watch me sit at my computer and watch REALITY BITES on a Wednesday afternoon.
So why is it that we’re tuning into this show? The short answer is that it’s good comedy. The long answer is that it’s an accurate portrayal of a generation of people that very much exists, whether or not we want them to. Perhaps middle-class ladies with mama’s money don’t illicit sympathy, but this show doesn’t ask you to have that. It asks you to watch them, semi-charmed life and all.
You know, If we can stomach Entourage for eight seasons, we can sure as heck give them that.