Girls, Girls, Girls

girls-hbo-1

I was late coming to this critical darling, but I just main lined all 10 episodes of Lena Dunham’s Girls TV show (HBO) and I am impressed. Thanks to Dave at Flickers blog and his review, it was the kick in the butt that I needed to dive in. And dive in I did, coming up for air once, as I finished watching this on demand over 2 evenings.

I was hesitant about this show at first because at middle age, I wasn’t sure I could handle a show that focused on 20 something year old “girls” struggling in NYC. Coming from a lower middle class upbringing, as I do, the thought of ever being a struggling artist/writer was never a consideration. My tale is a classic one, oft told, of a 2nd-generation-Canadian with struggling immigrant parents. Education was valued and encouraged at my house if and only if it leads to a profession. “Wadda you mean choice? You can be any doctor you wanna be” failing that, further choices include, in this order, dentist, lawyer, …..) So, I really wasn’t sure if I had the broad-mindedness to relate to these liberal arts educated girls. True confession aside, I could never sympathize with the ill-fated protagonist of Dead Poet’s Society; that movie fell flat on me. My misgivings were unfounded.

Silly me; good writing is simply, good writing. And this show has it. Lena Dunham writes, directs and stars as Hannah Horvath, a scattered, fearful and insecure 24 year old college grad who lives with her best friend (control-freak) Marnie (Allison Williams) in Brooklyn. Hannah’s parent’s ongoing financial support allows her to spin her wheels in an unpaid internship while she simultaneously pursues her writing. The pilot episode takes off from the opening scene when her tough as nails Mom declares that after 2 years, the gravy train has reached the end of the line. Boy oh boy could I sympathize with her Mom! The subtle comedy continues when Hannah decides to demand payment for her work from her ever so congenial boss. This bold move results in a long overdue reality check. It won’t be the last for Hannah and her friends.

Along the way we meet 2 other friends to complete the quartet. Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet, a scene stealer in Mad Men) is the innocent one, still in college and her cousin Jessa (Jemima Kirke) is the free-spirited wild child. I thoroughly enjoyed watching them wade through the quagmire of life as they faced complex relationships, often paralyzed by indecision and humiliation. These four girls are uniquely and distinctively developed characters. They are real, flawed and relatable. The portrayals are genuine and moving. All four actresses shine in this ensemble. Lena Dunham is a voice of a generation, to paraphrase her character, Hannah Horvath. And she exposes her character’s physical flaws as boldly as she does the psychological ones.

There are some criticisms of this show. First, if you have watched Dunham’s independent film, Tiny Furniture, this show is not a huge departure. Secondly, that there are few glimpses of African Americans. These points are valid. Yes Girls is not a huge departure, rather it is an expansion of the themes brought forth in that quirky debut film (I enjoyed it).  Dunham is not even close to 30 and like any good writer, she writes what she knows. As to the latter point, I see no need to isolate this show for what I believe to be a systemic flaw of the TV industry.

Girls is at times a cautionary tale of youth; a ying to Sex & the City’s yang. NYC is an undeniable supporting character, amid a strong ensemble cast. I will have to wait a few more years until my daughters are in high school, but I know that this will be required viewing before they graduate. I look forward to seeing what is in store for these “girls”. Lucky for me the second season starts in a few weeks. Until then, I will have to settle for this trailer.

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Dave
    Dec 13, 2012 @ 22:57:15

    Thanks for the shout out, Ann! So glad you enjoyed the show. It really grew on me as it progressed and the characters became much more relatable than when we met them. Luckily for you, you don’t have to wait long for the show to return! Season 2 is just around the corner. 🙂

    Reply

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