Are These “Girls” For Real?
The HBO show would have us believe every young 20-something woman is mentally, sexually, and emotionally deranged.
By Phil Stern
Let’s play name that television program.
Four single young women live and work in New York City. One, the central character, is a self-absorbed writer consumed with finding a man who really understands her. Another is a slim brunette who works in an art gallery. A third woman, outlandishly promiscuous in her own right, continually urges her friends to stretch their sexual boundaries. A fourth girl, also a brunette and the most reticent of the group, needs constant reassurance on sexual matters from the others.
If you said Sex And The City, well, of course you’re correct. However, in stunningly derivative fashion, this is also the short summary for Girls, the “new” HBO show from writer/director/actress Lena Dunham.
In fairness, I did find the show highly entertaining. I couldn’t wait to tune in every week to find out what Hannah and the girls were up to next. Like any good cable drama, Girls is pleasantly raw and utterly debauched, tackling subjects and situations generally ignored elsewhere.
The problem is, very little of what transpires from week to week is actually believable. Most of the scenarios seem foolishly staged and utterly contrived, quickly leaving the show with as much credibility as smuggled footage from an alternate dimension.
Attractive 22-year-old virgins simply wouldn’t lack for willing sexual partners. Otherwise sane young women aren’t in the habit of rushing into their workplace offices and fervently masturbating. They also don’t impulsively marry the jerk they met two weeks before in a bar, who introduced himself by trying to set up a threesome with her and a female friend.
And, in perhaps the most tasteless scene ever shown on television, they certainly don’t compliment one another for throwing a “really good abortion.” Of course, since the pregnant girl in question was miscarrying while making out with a stranger, all while her friends held an impromptu party at the women’s clinic, it all worked out.
This is where Girls goes horribly wrong. In striving so hard to be “shocking” and “edgy,” it loses its soul. These aren’t real young women. They’re disjointed, undeveloped psudo-characters from the mind of a 26-year-old writer/producer who is trying way too hard to one-up Sex And The City. Clearly, Ms. Dunham has great talent, yet like her alter ego Hannah, is still pretty raw. Unfortunately, this often shows up within the show itself.
Actually, my favorite scene from the entire season was possibly the most mundane. Hannah and Marnie (played by the stunningly beautiful Allison Williams) have a huge fight over Hannah’s inability to pay the monthly rent, leading Marnie to find another apartment. While lacking the absurdity of throwing champagne bottles into crowds or reading pilfered diaries in public, this was a scenario that a normal person could actually relate to.
Hopefully, season two stays away from the more egregious stunt-plotting of season one, while retaining the blunt, candid feel that makes Girls such a fun half-hour every Sunday night.
Phil Stern is the author of THE BULL YEARS, available now on Kindle.