GIRLS: Don’t Believe The Hype?

January 29, 2014

Lena Dunham is everywhere. Everywhere. I mean, I’ve seen her breasts more than I think I’ve seen my own in the past few days – although admittedly, I have been having a marathon GIRLS catch-up this week. Since the kooky show dropped its pilot on the world in 2012, Dunham has become this burgeoning beacon of ‘hope’ for the media: but, I have to ask, is this the kind of hope we really want? I started watching GIRLS about a year ago now, in quick succession, and the overbearing sense of ‘wait a minute, this is supposed to relate to me!?’ prevailed throughout. The show follows four New York-dwelling early-20s ‘GIRLS’; three-quarters of whom are presented as absolutely abhorrent, over-privileged twits. Let’s do a little character run-down:

  • Hannah (as played by Lena Dunham)

Main character – main bugbear. Hannah is depicted, on the very fine top onion layer, as your typical neurotic 20-something: confused, fighting her way into the big bad world, neurotic – you get me. However, early in the first series, we discover that – oh fresh hell: Hannah is getting ‘cut off’ from her parents and will now have to fight her own financial battles. Instant dislike. If, like me and the majority of the people I’ve ever known, you’ve been living off your own back (give or take the government’s help for uni alone), since the tender age of 18, Hannah’s plight will evoke nothing but aggressive malteaser-pelting at your TV screen. The sense of entitlement that absolutely resonates from every HD pore of these characters just really puts me off. Hannah is brattish, obnoxious and ultimately selfish. I know living in NY is supposed to do that to people, but jeez guys… seriously?

Dunham consistently seems to write herself into character scenarios that, in the stark light of reality, just wouldn’t ever happen. The biggest one of these has to be the time she ends up sleeping with the stereotypically very attractive older man and staying at his apartment for the weekend. Now, this may just be my internalised self-deprecation and institutionalised sexism but, in the real world, whether I am being cruel or not – Lena Dunham, nor Hannah Horvath would ever pair up with that guy. Maybe it’s supposed to be ironic? Maybe it’s supposed to show real girls doing the things that we generally only see on TV? But I am so fucking sick of seeing her breasts by now. And yet I’m still watching away in Series 3.

  • Shoshannah (Zosia Mamet)

The one saving grace of character: Shosh. If it wasn’t for her, I’d have probably thrown the towel in by now. Yes, she may be over-the-top and constantly spouting insane quips that, if your friends in real life started saying – you’d probably have them sectioned by now. Yes, she may sometimes seem as narrow-minded and shallow as the rest of them (e.g. starting a conversation about how her neckerchiefs may just be her best collection) – but she gets away with it. Predominantly due to the fact that she doesn’t psychobabble every other sentence, or make out she’s the guru of the world like Jessa.

  • Jessa (Jemima Kirke)

Speaking of. Fighting her way into the lead position for my biggest GIRLS character disdain is Jessa. Jessa is like that girl you know who’s snorted a few lines, banged a good 40+ guys and hell, maybe even had a threesome – but then, they see this as entitlement to be the smuggest, most unfoundedly ‘world-wise’ twit known to any guy going’s manhood. She is the know it all that, contrary to her allegedly wise and all-seeing ways, has no job – ever – and by Series 3, is even getting screamed at by Shoshanna for doing sweet fudge all. Are we really making role models here? I just do not understand what this show was trying to convey. And she punched Roy from the IT Crowd. Unforgivable.

  • Marni (Allison Williams)

I’ve just realised that every character’s initials are the same for their first and surname. Really now? Marni is the ‘beauty’ of the group – she’s stereotypically tall, skinny, attractive – but still, all she does is whine. Is this program simply a social commentary implying that all girls ever do is whine? She begins the show in a promising light – the only one with a responsible job at an art gallery, but soon that goes under and she ends up scrabbling like everyone else. What I want to know is – how is everyone affording to live in NYC on invisible funds? If I thought all you had to do was excessively whinge and say vapid prophetic nonsense to live in New York, I’d be there in a heartbeat. For all the gritty realism of this show, this loophole never fails to baffle me.

What is the purpose of GIRLS? Is it simply an excuse for Dunham to just play out her life in a visual “memoir” just like her character in the show? Why isn’t it renamed the Lena Dunham show? Either way, I just can’t help myself from loving to hate and hating to love it…

Are you a true fan, or are you stuck perilously on the fence like me?

(oh and just to make it more fashion-related, here’s my favourite Lena Dunham wardrobe mishap):

5 comments on “GIRLS: Don’t Believe The Hype?
  1. Avatar Charlee says:

    I’ve watched it from the beginning but I still feel like I’m on the fence with it, completely agree Shosh is the saving grace of the show. I do feel at times Hannah’s story is very over the top and that at there is sometimes too much focus on her. But I can’t help recording it every week hehe.

    • Ebony Ebony says:

      For this, we’ve got to admit that Lena Dunham is a genius. I mean, I think I’ve come across ONE person who claims themselves to be an actual fan, since writing this and discussing it with people. And yet we’re still all hooked! xo

  2. Avatar shani says:

    “Hannah is brattish, obnoxious and ultimately selfish. I know living in NY is supposed to do that to people, but jeez guys… seriously?”

    Hey, now! I’m NY born and bred and I am not like that at all, and neither are any of my friends. (I would never be friends with someone like that.) But NY turns you into a neurotic, not a narcissist. 😉

    I love how everyone loves Shoshanna the best, no matter how ridiculous she is. She really is the best part of the show.

    Well, for me, the best part of the show is bitching about it with my friends, so I guess that’s what its purpose is??

    Shani x
    http://shedreamsinperfectfrench.com

    • Ebony Ebony says:

      Sorry Shani! I meant it more in the stereotypical NYC ‘independent’ type. People say that to live in the city, you’ve gotta have your shit together – at least a bit, anyway! Haha, yeah – maybe you’ve cracked what it’s for – just, my friends don’t watch it, so I have to bitch to you guys instead! xo

  3. Avatar Jade says:

    Great piece.

    When ‘Girls’ first came out there was so much talk about it being the ‘Sex and The City’ of the 21st century, which I couldn’t agree with.

    Now however, I have a love-hate relationship with it, just as I do SATC. The characters can be unbelievable, yet at times I can highly relate to them. I’m definitely on the fence!

    I read an interesting interview with Jemima Kirke, saying how she’s considered the ‘slutty’ one yet has the least amount of sex scene which is interesting!

    I do think it’s great the success Lena Dunham has achieved as a twenty-something though.

    Really enjoyed reading this, as I said on twitter, I would certainly read more of these style posts 🙂

    Jade x

    nouvelle-noire.co.uk

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Ebony. 25. Manchester.
Marketing Manager who likes to mouth off on here about stuff she cares about. Expect mental health, Borderline Personality Disorder, and reviews - from restaurants, to books, to fashion. Talks to cats more than people, but seemingly has a lot to say.
ebonylaurenn@gmail.com
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