Everybody told me I would love it, so I gobbled up the first season in three days a couple of months ago. I didn’t love it but I did like it. Now in its second season it’s beginning to hit its stride and Girls may be one of my favourite things on television.
For those of you who haven’t yet watched it, Girls stars Lena Dunham as Hannah Horvath, a twenty-four-year old aspiring writer living in Brooklyn. She has three main sidekicks in the show: Marnie (Alison Williams), Hannah’s uptight and responsible best friend; Jessa (Jemima Kirke) an English bohemian world-traveller with a vaguely pretentious air; and Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet), Jessa’s innocent and hyperactive American cousin.
So far so Sex and The City? Wrong. SATC was aspirational, a show where every woman that watched it coveted the clothes, the careers, the income and the lifestyles of the four protagonists. Girls by contrast is a cringe-fest! No-one would covet these girls’ lives – they’re broke, confused, working at menial jobs and messing up their love lives – but because of this, it’s a real and authentic viewpoint. Not to mention the fact that it’s often very very funny.
Dunham has been criticised for her frequent nudity on the show (most horribly by Howard Stern but he’s an out of touch chauvinist so who really cares) but we all know she wouldn’t be criticised if she looked like Giselle Bundchen and I for one applaud her for providing another view of women’s bodies on television. And let’s not forget that Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, Will Ferrell and many other male comedic actors aren’t exactly giving David Gandy a run for his money. There has also been criticism for Hannah’s fashion choices, but in fairness who among us hasn’t been responsible for dreadful sartorial clangers when we were younger? For my part, I wore voluminous raver trousers that were so baggy they absorbed every puddle I walked in (not a great idea in rainy Ireland) paired with clunky Acupuncture trainers. Hardly the most flattering look but I was experimenting, so there!
And that’s the thing about every aspect of our twenties, we’re experimenting and trying stuff to see what works; trying personas on, trying friends and boyfriends on, trying careers on, the lot. From my experience we emerge into our thirties, having been forged in the fire of our twenties, as real people, fully faceted, with stories to tell and mistakes that have shaped us. Girls is documenting this process in all its cringe inducing yet immensely fun glory.
Lena Dunham is not the voice of a generation – after all she is a white, privileged, college educated, young woman raised in New York City with huge opportunities unavailable to most people – but she is a valuable voice nonetheless. It’s heartening to see a young woman not just star in, but write and direct a primetime show, and cope with the media attention very well to boot. She is also first woman ever to win a Directors Guild Award for Outstanding Director in a Comedy Series, which is a brilliant achievement. Given the popularity of Girls, and the fact that Dunham has been signed up to develop a new series, one can reasonably hope that this is the start of a great career. Like her character Hannah Horvath she may make some mistakes along the way, but that’s what your twenties are for, right?