I love Girls. I’m in love with Girls. Not collectively, but with the HBO series “Girls” by Lena Dunham. If you haven’t heard of this show, then… you’re probably a normal person. I just maybe watch too much television/live vicariously through it. But there has been talk about this show. The love it or hate it kind. The controversial kind. The good kind, in my opinion. And in my case, I most definitely love it. I just finished watching the first season, and to me, the show is just real. More real than any reality show or drama about twenty-somethings I’ve ever seen. And that’s why I like it.
The characters themselves actually look like real girls, for one. And not the spray-tanned, appearance-obsessed faux “reality” types of the Real Housewives or The Hills (or almost any show on Bravo, for that matter). They look like real girls I’ve seen in real life. Granted, they maybe portray another stereotype,”the Brooklyn hipster”, I guess, but still. No one is painfully thin, overly made-up or perfectly accessorized. They’re girls I went to school with, girls I’ve seen walking down the street and girls I’d honestly like to be friends with. I know using normal looking people doesn’t exactly take creative genius, but I think it’s a big part of what makes the show relatable and refreshing for me. Specifically, for me, however. Because as a 23 year old midde-class, college-educated white girl watching other middle-class, college educated white girls, it is relatable. And there’s been criticism that that’s a problem. And I can understand that. But as Lena Dunham explained in an interview with NPR, the show is based off of her own life experiences. She’s acknowledged the lack of diversity, but she’s also said that she didn’t want to add “diverse” characters for the sake of adding diverse characters. And I can respect that too. (She does plan on making some changes in season 2, however).
Girls revolves around four females dealing with life, love and finding themselves in New York City (a la Sex & The City….) on the surface. But these girls are just… better. More real. They’re funnier and crazier. Hannah is self-deprecating past the point of fault, Jessa is just insane, Marnie is kind of a b*tch, and Shoshanna is annoyingly adorable. I love it, and I love them. They’re unapologetically full of faults. Where Sex & The City was always kind of vague to me, this is much more believable. Fashion and clothes are not a central part of the show, and they’re younger. They’re not women, they’re Girls, acting their age… they’re not in search of husbands, they’re in search of careers. Or boyfriends. Or themselves. Or all of the above. The themes are similar, but “growing up” has a much different meaning in this show.
This show really just “goes for it” in its realness, too. There’s very little left to the imagination. For one, Lena Dunham’s boob is in every other scene. And so is awkward sex. Very awkward. And none of it is tasteful… it’s unpleasant even. But that, unfortunatley, is often real life. And this show doesn’t apologize for it. The language and dialouge are also great. It’s imperfect, it’s awkward and it’s honest. Like real life often is. No one sounds forced when talking about texting, or Facebook or Twitter. And serious conversations aren’t backed by dramatic music or paused for longing stares… they’re often frustrating and cringeworthy. Things are left unsaid, and people’s reactions aren’t unbelievably exaggerated. But that’s not to say it isn’t funny, clever or calculated either, because it’s all of that too. Hannah, the writer of the group, is thoroughly quotable. “I think I’m the voice of a generation, or… a voice of a generation,” she says to her parents at one point, switching from deplorably egotistical to self aware in a second. And “I’ll be your crack spirit guide,” is just one of the many gems delievered by the been-there-done-that Jessa.
Overall, the show is just honest, and that’s what makes it real. Maybe it’s too autobiographical or not diverse enough or not an accurate enough depiction of New York City, but it’s how Lena Dunham has chosen to remember and manipulate parts of her life. And as the creator, I think she’s allowed this poetic license. I don’t think it’s possible for anyone to capturance every nuance of everyday life in a work of fiction, because the experience is different for everyone. But what I think this show has done is very believably capture someone’s experience. And I think that’s what makes it honest, relatable and great.
I am thoroughly excited to see what she comes up with next (but not excited to wait until January).