Girls Season 1 Episode 1 recap
Show being reviewed: Girls Qualifications for review: Am (was?) Girl; live in city. Consumption of pre-broadcast Girls hype: None in last week.
There you go. There's my resume as it relates to Girls. Everyone on the show spent so much time announcing who they were or hoping it sounded like they were someone. I felt compelled to do the same. I do not know Photoshop.
It's not that I don't have feelings about the show; I really do. It's just that they're largely contradictory, and I'm trying to see if that's okay. It is not okay in the popular media. There was a giant hype-swell of adoring love for the show in the past week that had already ebbed, by Thursday, into a backlash. Then there were warring factions. The show had not aired yet.
So. Did I like it? I didn't exactly like it - but I recognized every frame. There were definitely people and situations that annoyed me, but, of course, that's the point. Lena Dunham has created characters who are real because they're not entirely likeable. (In the following space, please copy and paste, from a source of your choice, the obligatory paragraph where the writer self-flagellates for not being as talented/prescient/young as 25-year-old Dunham).
I am just far enough from the age of Hannah and her friends that I wore an irritated squint for parts of the show, but then, I know exactly what that couch she was lying on smelled like. And you do too.
This is how I felt about most of the show. I went back and forth between wondering if certain moments really deserve immortalization - the over-pretentious dinner party and trying to manage all the egos therein was an early cringe for me - and then almost vomiting at the accuracy of certain others. Perfect example? Hannah asks Marnie if she's going to keep her towel on. That's weird and a little unusual. But then she follows it up with "because you always see me naked and I never see you". Lord. Yeah. That's being 24. When else have you been so open about asking your friend not to be so perfect, to show a flaw because you feel like yours are always out in the open?
There are questions of whether or not it's realistic for the girls to be so in on top of each other, but in my experience this is almost a rite of passage with your friends. "We're so close nothing even fazes us. We live together. We pee together." (My post-university apartment had a velcro rig on the shower curtain to tape across your lap for a modicum of privacy, as if it matters when there's no SOUND privacy while someone else is in there.) Choosing to live in the big bad expensive city means some ridiculous housing choices and boyfriend toleration and it all makes so much sense. The utter sweetness of Marnie's boyfriend, who may have a vagina, and the dickishness of Hannah's Adam - "Does that make you feel sick - make you not want to talk to me? "You've got to stop mothering her" - it's all just so familiar. And nobody has ever said "I'm pregnant" in a blasé voice quite the way a 24-year-old city hipster can. These aren't affectations, they're straight-up transcriptions.
Though I tried to stay away from the hype, I did read this script awhile back, when it was the Untitled Lena Dunham Project. And I loved it then. I think one of the issues i had with the show was the title, and what it meant. The show is called "Girls", which lends itself to the idea that it is somehow about all girls, not just four of them. And the audience desperately wants this to be true, even though it was referenced, with the whole Carrie/Samantha etc. trope, there are so many people who want Girls to be the next massive all-X-chromosome cultural touchstone that explains to them a city and an entire demographic. I want the show not to have to do that. I mean, it's HBO and they don't exactly feel the need to conform but Judd Apatow isn't in the business of making things that aren't giant hits. The show feels honest and independent and cringeworthy in a way that seems diametrically opposed to the hype machine and incessant tweets and celebrification of Lena Dunham. I don't want her to be everyone's new best friend. It's been pointed out elsewhere that these girls are part of a tiny, privileged subset - but that's who it's about. I don't want the title to mean they have to experience all things that could possibly come under the heading of "Girls". Nobody can experience all things, why should the show be different?
I'm not picking a side. I'm entirely content to wait and let the show woo me on its own. I owe it more, I think, than to make a decision on week one.
Attached - Lena Dunham at various promotional events for Girls.