Monday, May 14, 2012

Coming out post: I like Girls

I'm talking about the HBO show of course! Since I am so guilt-wracked over letting my blog (this blog) die, and because I spend 40 hours a week in a cubicle typing furiously (but not about anything), I haven't been keeping up with the computer screen and its magical media commentary content the way I used to... Oh! Also because all the Gawker family blogs totally suck now, like Jezebel, the blog that used to be edgy and feminist and now posts articles like "are your fat co-workers making you fat?" But hey, let's not digress. I'm talking about how I haven't kept up with every piece of media criticism, but Girls sure seems to be lightning rod for bullshit critiques that I take exception to. 

Of course I'm a little jealous of youthful writer/director/star Lena Dunham, who managed to string all her weird shit into a film and now a hilarious high-profile TV show about young women who remind me of actual people I might have encountered in my time as an actual writer in Hartford and a wannabe writer, adult intern and odd-jobber in New York City. But all I've got to show for it is this blog, that I don't even write.

Here's a not very revealing trailer!

Maybe it is kind of a niche market - a self-conscious comedy/drama for the over-educated, under-employed children of relative privilege. But the criticisms that the show is too white, or too white to be set in New York, or that the characters are unsympathetic, or unsympathetic because they've grown up privileged ring false to me. Is a racial diversity, parental wealth or likability of the protagonist truly the barometer for quality? No, that would be stupid, and nobody believes that anyway. I could name a zillion "exceptions" - many aired on the same channel - but that would be like conceding that there's a point. I think this is just part of an overall pattern of a culture whose masses by and large, enlightened as they may think they are, just aren't ready to let women be clever in the same way that men can be.

So let me talk about why this show is wonderful. Because it's smart enough to acknowledge its debt (or surface resemblence ) to Sex and the City in its very dialogue, while offering a down-to-earth counterpoint to that program about how truly non-glamorous it can be to try and cultivate a writing career and a cavalier approach to your sex life in NYC (or anywhere!). 

Because even as it's characters are indeed obnoxious in their sense of entitlement, it's self-aware enough to show them as relatively incompetent. To me there is nothing funnier than the irony of being intellectually sophisticated enough to remark that men are wont to leave their penises inside you after sex, but socially retarded enough to make a date rape joke at a job interview that's going really well. The writing is really sharp. Tempered of course by the crass subject matter. But who can't appreciate a girl who wants to differentiate between "looking like a piggy bank" and "feeling like a piggy bank" during doggy-style? Well, probably people who actually can't appreciate that difference.  People who have never "hate-read" a book. (I have hate-read so much YA fiction while house-sitting it's not even funny.) I identify so heavily with the humor style on this show, I find myself nearly memorizing each episode on first viewing, and shocked that anyone could think less of it.

To those who think the show is just too frivolous, I'm sorry they can't appreciate the rather awesome feat of taking a subject that is serious, and that nobody likes to talk about or handle well on TV - like STD testing and anxiety about AIDS for the "hook-up" generation - and takes it pretty seriously in the same episode with a bunch of crude jokes. Like when Hannah has her legs spread, feet-in-the-stirrups verbal diarrhea about how maybe HIV wouldn't be so bad and perhaps it's just what she's always wanted, that isn't the takeaway message (the gyno rightly calls her back to reality, btw). It's like when I joke about how I'll probably spend my retirement eating catfood quesadillas. Not because I'm being capricious about poverty and people who have to eat cat food now, but because realistically I probably am going to have a dead-end career path even though I'm smart and have great work ethic and watch my relative income slip downward over the years and die a spinster while economic justice goes un-served so I better just get used to the idea and pretend to like it because it's what's outside that counts. Ha! Tragedy + time, babies!

Watch Girls on Sunday nights. Or watch Mad Men on Sunday nights and watch Girls on demand or on your iPhone some other time! I hope that next season they had to move home but still try to have hipster adventures and keep the dream alive in the old stomping grounds they maybe thought they were too cool for this season.


  1. I like HBO's Girls too. I was slightly aghast to learn that "liking" Girls on Facebook makes it appear front and center on my timeline, but I'm willing to take the heat for my opinion. Which so far hasn't been anything at all, so I guess I didn't go all that far out on a limb.

    The show is cleverly written and generally well-performed, and even if it doesn't mirror the whole "world", I think it captures a particular glimpse of young adult's lives that hasn't been fully explored yet. Brava to Ms. Dunham.

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