I may be a bit late to the game but I finally got around to watching the first series of Girls this week.
The show follows aspiring writer Hannah (Lena Dunham), who is working as an unpaid intern in New York in the hope that her boss will read one of her essays. However, her plan goes astray when her parents tell her they can no longer support her financially and she ends up unintentionally quitting her job when she requests to be paid.
Hannah lives with her best friend Marnie (Allison Williams), an art gallery assistant, who is trying to decide whether to break-up with her boyfriend. She loves him but feels like he is much more invested in the relationship than she is. When she decides to end the relationship, she is distraught to see him with another woman after two weeks and begins to feel depressed, affecting her relationship with Hannah.
Other characters include Jessa (Jemima Kirke), a free-spirited world traveller, and her cousin Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet), who is only 21-years-old and far more naive than the other girls.
Telling the story of four New York women, the show draws obvious comparisons to Sex and the City, something it makes reference to in the pilot. Shoshanna displays a Sex and the City movie poster in her flat and tells Jessa how the characters inspired her and that she is “a bit of a Carrie”.
As Sex and the City was slightly before my time, I used to cringe when I would hear women comparing themselves to the cast, but when I discussed Girls with my friends, we all found ourselves saying we could relate to certain elements of the characters.
Whether in reference to work, relationships or the awkward moment when you get to a party before your group of friends and don’t know who to talk to, there are moments in the series that every woman can relate to and, although every episode is full of laugh out loud comedic moments, it’s not all fun and games. The show also refers to STDs, sexual harassment and unwanted pregnancies.
Lena Dunham serves as writer, producer and director of the show, as well as playing Hannah, and she has been applauded for her refreshing representation of the twenty-something female. The show perfectly portrays the disillusionment many feel when trying to discover who they are. Hannah’s convinced she’s the “voice of her generation” but doesn’t know how to go about achieving her goals.
Ironically, as a result of her work on the show, many have labelled Dunham the ‘voice of her generation’. Her success is undeniable, at only 26-years-old, she has won two Golden Globes and is writing an advice book for which she is reportedly being paid $3.5million. Drawing from her own personal experiences to write the show, she has gained a legion of fans and a famous drummer boyfriend in the form of Fun.’s Jack Antonoff.
It’s also a breath of fresh air to see a cast of people who aren’t what would be defined as stereotypically beautiful. Dunham herself admits that she “could do with losing 11 pounds” and is covered in tattoos and I believe a part of the realism of the show comes down to the fact that the four leads all look like normal women. Their hair and make-up look natural, they aren’t wearing designer brands and don’t always choose to wear heels. If a scene is set in their apartment, they’re likely to be sitting in jogging bottoms. When they wear a dress with matching shoes and nobody notices, they’ll mention it to one of the others in order to get a compliment. Elements like this make the rapport between the cast so natural it’s hard to forget they aren’t actually real people.
However, Girls hasn’t been met with complete praise. Critics have complained about the lack of ethnic diversity amongst the cast and have pointed out that it is highly unlikely the characters could all afford to live in New York considering the current economic climate. There have also been critiques about how self-absorbed the characters are, especially Hannah. Luckily, none of my closest friends are this way, but I can certainly vouch for the fact that some people I know are even worse than this.
Whilst some of the scenarios on-screen may be a little far-fetched, in my opinion girls portrays a more accurate representation of the twenty-something female than the majority of ‘reality’ television shows at the moment.
Now if you would excuse me, I’ve got another season to catch up on…