I always forget that Girls airs on HBO, allowing it much more freedom than we’re used to seeing on any other major network. We cringe along with the characters as we watch their awkward sexual encounters. Conversations actually sound real because of the cursing allowed. No topic is left unturned. We’ve seen Lena Dunham naked enough times that just it doesn’t phase us anymore. During her appearance on Chelsea Lately, Dunham jokes that the staff and camera crew are no longer fascinated by a pair of “live breasts” in the room. Not much is left to the imagination, and I believe that’s half the reason everyone has been in such a tizzy overGirls. Other than the unapologetic nature of the show, here are some of the things i’m thinking about while heading into season 2:
Can we please stop comparing Girls to Sex and the City? I definitely did this when I first saw the pilot, a lot of people did, and its an easy comparison to make. The show is fully aware of this, Shoshanna even talks about SATC in the pilot, no doubt as a nod to a previous HBO show that also depicted the lives of four women living in New York City. But the comparison needs to stop there because that is literally the only thing these two shows have in common. Carrie, Charlotte and Miranda are in their mid-thirties when SATC starts, Samantha is 40! They have fabulous apartments, they go on dates regularly and they have well established careers (Although I know for a fact that IRL Carrie would not have been able to afford that many designer labels let alone that apartment working as a writer in Manhattan, do they like, even pay people for writing anymore?). Hannah, Marnie, Shoshanna and Jessa are in their early to mid-twenties and are just trying to keep their heads above water and not die. Remember the whole “living the dream, one mistake at a time” tagline? In the first episode of SATC, Carrie accidentally drops the contents of the inside of her purse on the street, revealing condoms and all. This is portrayed as glamorous and oh just as a bonus she happens to bump into the ultimate love of her life, how cute! (I’m sorry if that’s a spoiler for you but its not 2004 so you should know these things). In the first episode of Girls Hannah is broke and accidentally gets high on opium pod tea, not exactly cute. Let’s just stop while we’re ahead.
Hannah Horvath is the most accurate portrayal of someone who calls themselves a “writer” from my generation that i’ve seen in a looong time. Hannah works as a relatable character because she’s faking it till she makes it (they all are, really). Hannah is barely a writer. When she goes back home for the weekend and goes on a date with a local pharmacist, he gets confused when Hannah says that her job is a writer, but she has no money. Lena Dunham taps into this mini internal crisis we’re all having. Our problem is that we’ve been exposed to all of these great artists and writers through the media and the internet for as long as we can remember, and we feel inadequate if we don’t have a novel out by 25. We want validation, we want to feel smart, and witty, and culturally relevant. We feel the need to create something right now, but still have no life experience to base it on. It’s something like a strange combination of confidence in our abilities, but complete lack of knowledge of how to go about getting what we want.
Its not all about relating directly to the experiences these girls are having, its about relating to some of the feelings brought on by their actions and by being a 20-something. Dunham said in a recent interview with i-D magazine “I think Girls is realistic but not close to reality”. As long as we are able to relate to something one of the characters feels or says at some point, Dunham has done her job.
Based on this interview, the ladies of The View are equally depressed and horrified by how 20-somethings are living through the lens of Lena Dunham.
We all just need to calm down and remember that Lena Dunham has done something pretty darn amazing considering she is only 26. She was kind of nominated for an Emmy. She’s not going to solve all of our problems related to body image or age, and she doesn’t hold the answer as to why minorities are underrepresented on television. BUT she has made a boatload of progress in representing women on television in a new and refreshing way.
Catch season 2 on HBO January 13th at 9PM EST.
-Joanna Harkins, Editor-in-Chief