I want to hate “Girls,” I really do. It’s the type of show that’s gotten so much critical acclaim that I want it to start taking itself too seriously so I can laugh at it like The Newsroom, or Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, or The West Wing. Unfortunately, the show never twists towards melodrama and manages to communicate serious pathos while still remaining a comedy so I have to enjoy it without a twinge of irony.
“Girls” follow the lives of a few, um, girls, living in Brooklyn and Manhattan. Hannah (Lena Dunham) is an aspiring writer who’s just been financially cut off by her parents and wants to find a way to pay her rent. Getting a job isn’t totally out of the question, but despite a liberal arts education Hannah doesn’t seem to be cut out for a corporate gig (she makes a rape joke in a job interview interview; later she’s rejected by her handsy boss at another job and quits out of embarrassment). Her gorgeous roommate Marnie (Alison Williams, NBC News anchor Brian Williams’s daughter) is—for lack of a better term—getting pretty sick of Hanna’s shit. Marnie is as straight as they come: she’s got a well groomed boyfriend who she treats poorly, a good job at an art gallery, and seems to be well on her way to responsible adulthood. They get along for the most part, but Marnie gets annoyed with Hanna’s complete lack of direction as the first season moves forward. Complicating the mix is Jessa (Jemima Kirke, daughter of Bad COmpany drummer Brian Kirke), a free-spirited world traveler who basically comes and goes as she pleases. She claims to be Hanna’s friend, but ultimately looks out for #1. Finally there’s Shoshana (Zosia Mamet, David Mamet’s daughter), Marnie’s cousin, an NYU student, and a virgin. She’s innocent, naive, and super annoying.
The reason “Girls” is so good is probably the same reason why the above paragraph sucked. The characters are really three dimensional, even if the acting leaves something to be desired. I admire Hannah for being so honest all the time, even when it makes her look bad. I definitely know a Marnie or two: someone who always has their head on straight and is looking toward the future. I share the other characters’ pseudo-resentment of Jessa who does what she wants and has everything more or less work out. I pity Shoshana who’s yet to realize that college graduation really knocks you on your ass. It’s easy for me to identify with all the characters, even if they’re all Bohemian females, and I’m a pretty conformist dude.
I think the reason that I like “Girls” is it seems very authentic. Most television and movies made for twentysomethings is created by forty and fifty year olds recalling their past, a past that is fundamentally different. Creator and head writer Lena Dunham is only twenty-six and gives the show a more contemporary feel (and makes me feel like shit for having done nothing with my life). Sure, young adult angst is universal but the way it manifests itself from generation to generation is profoundly different.
Ultimately, I like “Girls” because it reminds me that I’m not the only one who’s not sure what they want to be when they grow up. The notion that you’re a full grown “real person” in your early twenties is ludicrous and I think “Girls” captures beautifully how childish we as twentysomethings really are.