“Few series come out of the box as brilliant as Girls does.”
“Nothing short of revolutionary… ”
“Far more realistic than Sex and the City”
While I completely appreciate and respect that Lena Dunham writes, stars and directs her play on reality, the notion that HBO’s hit “Girls” is a really down-to-earth, this-it-the-way-life-really-is picture is about as unrealistic as Miley Cyrus taking a vow of celibacy.
If all it takes to be looked at as a brilliant display of feminism is to put normal looking people in thought-to-be realistic sex scenes on the laptops of struggling young adults everywhere, we should acknowledge the 56723+ websites that have “paved the way” for this totally original idea.
The comparison has been made ad nauseam: Girls is Sex and the City for a new urban era. Obviously no, the Candice Bushnell anthology doesn’t work for college grads in 2014, but is Girls really “far more realistic”?
Forget SATC’s outer shell that is the over-the-top glamor of a constant stream of swanky restaurants and Manolo Blahniks. The series’ protagonist was actually very fragile and often confused about her romantic relationships. How many times did SJP’s character have to open her eyes to confirm a man was having an emotional moment with her while kissing? The show relied on the ever present dialogue between Carrie’s out-loud thinking and the viewer’s own love life experience. Fans not only spoke literally to the television screen, but to one another. Sure the manner in which Kim Cattrall’s Samantha conversed is unrealistic, but she displayed an ever-present independence that women could aspire to, while still able to love and be genuinely proud of her girlfriends.
HBO’s new generation of women use one another, sometimes knowingly, and fail to serve as a safety net when one needs the other. The “Girls” are extremely judgmental, both of each other and those who interact with their circle. Marnie (Allison Williams) comes across as a social climber that would drop her friends for status or a boyfriend, as demonstrated when positions herself to co-host a party with an artist she thinks is her boyfriend. She invites Dunham’s character (Hannah) to the event but doesn’t really acknowledge her, as the faux-hostess tries to get a word in with the presumed in-crowd.
Harder to watch is the whining the characters do. The uber self-awareness of these ladies evokes the feeling of trying to sit through a dinner with the real housewives of Beverly Hills – completely unrelatable and eye-roll inducing. These girls complain about their problems and are horribly offended when a friend wants to share something that’s happening in their life. SPOILERish: In a recent episode, Hannah’s book deal is crushed when her editor unexpectedly dies. It takes more than five people to point out that she is far more interested in the death of her book than of the human being. While some highlight how strange it is for her to feel this way, the tension never gets resolved. Most concerned is Hannah’s boyfriend Adam, who is increasingly the show’s most relatable character. Though I don’t know a ton of guys who are really dark and aggressive inside, yet embrace their weirdness and interject starkly innocent one liners with perfect timing – but I’m from the midwest, maybe in Brooklyn that’s a thing.
The other decent character is Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet), the youngest and most level-headed of the group (here level-headed means still in college). At times she talks in a way that makes me want to smash my television but she is goal-oriented, and able to kick her 30-year-old leach of a boyfriend out of her apartment when she realized he had been living with her without any formal permission to do so.
Granted, it’s clear many of these characters are projecting their extreme insecurity, as was the author’s intention, but I’m not convinced a younger audience would be able to pick that up. Nor the notion that Dunham unabashedly baring all (all the time) is representative of women everywhere to confirm yeah I am woman, hear me roar – but like, ‘in an ironic way because I’m witty and dealing with a ton of inner monologue and conflict.’ It feels a little presumptuous of the audience. Though I suppose no one has to worry about that; Nielsen ratings report the largest single demographic watching the Sunday night premium channel hit are dudes over 50.
Forget style, the ladies of Sex and the City had moxie. Moxie that made you want to spend a night out with your girlfriends, who you knew without a shadow of a doubt would walk right up to a guy that hurt you and “curse the day he was born.”
Sex and the City struck down taboos; Girls is building them. Are we to be so into what we’re doing as individuals that it affects our ability to be a good friend? And I don’t just mean showing up to someone’s birthday party.
Loyalty – friendship that screams I have your back when you need me and even when you don’t. Friendship that says you can tell me anything and I will listen and try my best to not be judgmental; I will let you cry and I will try to make you laugh, and when that doesn’t work I will take you shopping or get you a cocktail. That is what Sex and the City taught me – that’s what my girlfriends taught me – not to get back together with my not-so-great boyfriend because I feel like my life is shutting down. Or to be so self-involved I can’t realize my friend is totally miserable; is that “rooted-in realism” like many of the media reviews suggest? I suppose it can be, but is that something that we want to be? Girls more-or-less concretely illustrates the friend I never want to be and if that was secretly intended, I suppose I can say Dunham and crew are doing a fabulous service to us all.