There’s been so much chatter about Girls that I almost feel it’s too much to chime in. However, as this blog is called Smart GIRLS Who Do Stupid Things, it would seem a gross oversight to ignore something made so perfectly for our target demographic. Additionally, my life and personhood — for whatever it’s all worth — come about as close as you can get to the conceit of the show without literally becoming at parody, so that’s probably worth something.
I thought I’d watch the show, and then ask a friend who watched with some of our mutual friends, and share both of our thoughts. For the purposes of these remarks, I am me, and she is a 24-year-old who works in publishing and lives in Brooklyn. Her remarks have been mildly edited.
Aghhh i don’t know, it’s hard to even write about this show at all, since watching it feels like reading your own fucked up short story you wrote for your creative writing circle in college and I just felt semi-embarrassed for myself the whole time. Of course, then you could only write this if you had possessed Lena Dunham’s crazy foresight. I will say I certainly liked it/the show resonated with me way more than I thought it would. Some of the characters are way more accurate than I wanted them to be even (i.e. most of the men, and especially that sex scene, which is another issue in that there were literally NO likable male characters in the show period, and even though it’s a show that doesn’t want you to fully embrace anyone I was really overcome with some moments of intense man-hating which is something I’m trying to get over, not make exponentially worse), and a lot of the female relationship dynamics were refreshingly realistic.
But also like “Oh god I’m living this why even bother watching a show about how much it sucks to be angry at your good friends all the time.” Sort of like the sensation you would get when you would play The Sims all day and all of the sudden instead of doing crazy things to your Sims you’re just making sure they brush their teeth and take a shit and nap and you hate yourself for not just doing that in real life? Like, I could just be living a more successful version of these people’s lives; why am I watching a show about what’s happening to me right at this second?
I liked Lena Dunham’s character a lot actually, and I’m not really sure everyone else will, but I WAS constantly preoccupied with the fact that I know a lot about her actual life and this show is absolutely not it nor has it ever been. She’s been an extremely successful artist since graduating and her parents are also famous and she’s never had to live this lifestyle or be broke. So, it’s confusing, but I enjoyed the show enough to think that maybe I should just shut up and be grateful someone’s making good TV, mostly.
The first reaction I had upon watching the Pilot of Girls was becoming immediately disgusted upon realizing that Lena Dunham’s character Hannah graduated from college TWO YEARS AGO and her parents are STILL paying for her to have this internship. I guess we don’t know the details behind that (maybe she’s only been in New York for a year and before that she was like, living at home working at an ice cream shop) but I just found that obscene and it became very difficult to relate to her. Not as if I am just an iceberg out at sea without any help from anyone ever, but that’s just so much money. I also found her incredibly unhealthy relationship with her man friend troubling and not really comforting or identifiable (though the basic conceit of men in the show either being too attainable or not attainable enough did strike home).
Additionally, the supporting cast were all super interesting archetypes of people I know (or am), even the incredibly flakey Jessa the world traveler. However the choice of a pink Juicy Couture velour jumpsuit to be worn around the house by Zosia Mamet’s character was puzzling; I know she loves Sex and the City, but really? Who wears those anymore?
Overall, there was something interesting about coming back from a weekend in New York — where the streets and subways are plastered with ads for Girls — and returning to Chicago, watching this show in my bed, knowing that my friends had all just finished watching it in the city I had left, gathered around a TV in one of their parents’ houses because no one can afford HBO. It blurred the lines between the reality and hyper-reality of the show even more, and I do feel a little unsettled about what makes sense anymore.
But even though much of it felt real, I still can’t shake the feeling that it felt real because it’s a show about a life I would be having if I was in New York. A parallel Kate, if you will. Yes, many of the themes are the same, but I still felt very far away from it all. Perhaps that says more about me than Girls (or, speaks to the point of the show to begin with); as a New Yorker currently living outside of New York, I am sometimes struck with the feeling that nothing feels quite as legitimate because I’m not living where It All Happens.
Most impressively, I got frustrated with the show the way I get frustrated with myself, which might say it all about what Girls is and is trying to accomplish. Oh, and when Hannah’s mom said to her “Why dont you get a job and start a blog?” in an exasperated tone when she was complaining about getting cut off? Touche.