Friday, May 25, 2012

The Problem with "Girls"


HBO debuted two new TV shows last month. Of the two, Veep is actually the superior and higher rated show of the pair. But Girls has been the one getting all of the press. Everyone wants to talk about it, either to praise it – as many critics have – or to complain about the lack of diversity on the show.

 “Girls” follows four, well, girls in those awkward post-college years where you're old enough to know better but young enough not to care. It’s a tried and true formula. Nothing is groundbreaking necessarily here; four girls in New York and dealing with friendship, sex, and making their way in the world.

First there’s Hannah, played by show creator Lena Dunham, who has been living off of her parents while she chases the dream of writing a memoir and working as an unpaid intern. Her world is turned upside down when her parents cut her off, even refusing a deal of $1,100 a month for two years (a steal, I say. How could they ever refuse such an offer!). She is also sleeping with Adam. Next is Marnie, an anal retentive, put together girl who actually comes across as normal. She is played by Allison Williams. Marnie has been dating her boyfriend forever and is now in a rut. Then there is Jessa, the British accented trollup who rolls into town pregnant and having none of her shit together. Lastly, and most clich├ęd, is Shoshanna, played by Zosia Mamet, who is basically Charlotte from Sex and the City without the fully developed neuroses.

It should be noted that with Dunham having written many of the episodes alone, and a cast that comes from such pedigree as to include Williams, the daughter of NBC News Anchor Brian Williams, and Mamet, the offspring of David Mamet and actress Lindsay Crouse, there isn’t a whole lot of “average, normal” stuff on set. With no one fully in touch with the real world, how can the show be expected to show real life?

Allison Williams stars as Marnie in "Girls".
Critics have jumped on the “Girls” bandwagon as if it was an open bar at an AA meeting. But, most of the critics working in media today tend to be old enough to be these girls’ parents. They are out of touch with what it’s actually like to be 24, so for them to claim any kind of realism is nothing more than wishful thinking.

The media are trying to say that this is how girls are today and that it depicts a realer version of “Sex and the City.” I hate to tell everyone, but this is “SATC” through the eyes of a hipster. Are there girls that are like this? Yes, but not the majority of women in that demographic. At least with the previous HBO comedy, it was aspirational for women. They could watch the show and escape to their dreams about getting a happily ever after with their Mr. Big. Here, “Girls” should be shown as a blue print for rethinking your life choices if you closely relate to any of the characters (save, perhaps, Marnie).

The girls from “SATC” may have been living more glamorous lives than the average person, they were also fun, likeable, and actually relatable. I mean, how many times have you seen your girlfriend or one of her friends proclaim “I’m a CARRRRRIEE.” (p.s. women should never proclaim they are a Samantha unless they are looking to get gangbanged). The quartet on “Girls” are hard to relate to and more than anything else they are narcissistic and don’t evoke any kind of sympathy. Dealing with issues like getting an STD or an abortion are big issues to have in the first three episodes. As in real life, the way you handle big issues show more about the character than a season worth of silly story lines.

Zosia Mamet stars as Shoshanna.
People have complained about the lack of diversity on the show. The same was said about Friends. Apparently on TV, New York is filled with neighborhoods of only white people. It’s something that we have come to accept – again, not reality, but it is unfortunately TV reality. It should be noted that Dunham has cast “Community” star Donald Glover in season two in an attempt to quell the criticism.

Another chief complains has been about Dunham’s weight. Now, here’s the thing. She is an average sized woman, er, girl, but average sized girls don’t write sex scenes to be viewed by a million people for themselves. Of the quartet, she is the only one constantly being shown having sex and not wearing clothes. Any criticism that has come was brought on by the star herself for putting herself in that position. Williams's character has a sexy scene, doggy style, and is in her underwear the entire time. If all of the actresses were doing it, then people wouldn’t be as vocal about her flesh.

But the most damning problem with “Girls” is that it just isn’t that funny. In the first few episodes Marnie has a few decent lines, especially when annoyed about one of the coven being late for her own abortion, but most of the show’s quirks are meant for a very specific audience. More than finding myself laughing, by the end of the second episode I wanted to hunt Dunham down and punch in the face repeatedly. With the exception of Williams, who looks to have a long career once the show is over, the girls are annoying and unsympathetic. They aren’t funny, even an OMG type of way.

I’ll be the first to admit that there are a lot of things wrong with my generation. There are self-entitlement issues, inflated egos, and many other things that were caused from growing up in a booming economy during the 90s when parents began trying new age techniques for childrearing that included never saying no to a child. But if this is the legacy that people are going to have for my generation then it is time to just hang up the towel and call it a day.