Jun 22 2012

HBO’s Girls: A Sharply Written Show for Any Gender

Published by at 12:00 pm under Reviews,Television

I’m currently in love with HBO GO, and I’m trying to get the most out of it before I cancel my cable subscription at the end of the month. What? A $165/month bill is just a LITTLE steep, don’t you think?

In any case, GO has every HBO show pretty much ever available to watch, and with all the buzz surrounding Girls, I thought I’d give it a try. Everything I’d heard and seen relating to it indicated that this was not particularly aimed at me, but after watching season one in two days, I think that’s an untrue assessment.

In reality, Girls is for any 20-something who doesn’t really know what they’re doing with their life, which frankly, is a pretty big chunk of us. It also helps the relatability that the central character, Hannah, moved from Michigan to New York and wants to be a writer, an experience that mirrors my own right down the home state.

In short, Girls is the anti-Sex in the City. It’s about four ladies living the closest thing to a realistic version of life as I’ve ever seen on TV. The creator and star, Lena Dunham has admittedly been influenced a lot by FX’s Louie, and the shows share dark overtones, incredible amounts of vulgarity and a sense of realism. Girls is probably more of an outright comedy, but it’s as introspective as it is funny.

I predict most will like it after the very first scene. I did.

There are four main girls who populate the show. Hannah is the titular one whose life is always in a constant state of disaster. Marnie is her roommate who is more put together with a job and boyfriend, but is wound so tight she rarely seems to get enjoyment out of life. Opposite her is Jessa, a British free spirit who practically floats down the street, and her roommate and cousin Shoshanna who is a Jewish virgin whose the type of girl to non-ironically have an aforementioned Sex in the City poster over her bed.

Hannah and Marnie in particular feel like incredibly real characters, and as almost all episodes are written by Dunham, there’s an authenticity to the show that you can feel was drawn directly out of aspects of her own life. It’s a very personal account and though obviously much of it is fictionalized, it feels like real life in an era where few shows are able to emulate that.

The show sparked a bit of controversy when as the series progressed, it started to seem odd that every single person on the show was white. All four girls, all their boyfriends, friends and relatives. The most amount of color in the show comes from the background extras in all ten episodes. I’m not quite sure what to make of this. Yes, it does seem a bit strange that anyone could exist in New York without befriending or dating at least one non-white person, but that said, I don’t think it was purposeful on Dunham’s part, and every interview I’ve read she seems sad about the accusations coming her way.

Casting problem: Marnie (Allison Williams) is almost too hot for her own good.

Additional issues crop up when you discover that Hannah’s f-buddy Adam is just a bit too demented to be tolerated, so much so that it damages the realism of his character. I also think that that Jessa and Shoshanna are a bit one dimensional at times, with their attitudes toward life seeming a bit less true to life than Marnie and Hannah’s.

But the show is wonderfully written, and there are just so many scenes that are either hilarious, laden with emotion, or both. Each half hour installment flies by, and with only ten episodes to watch, it’s more like a really long movie than a full series of a show. If you can tolerate the often over the top crudity, you’ll discover that it’s a very smart show that speaks honestly about a generation in a way that isn’t seen anywhere else on TV.

Girls is for girls, guys, whoever wants to watch it. Don’t let the name or the cast throw you off. If you appreciate good comedy and good writing, give it a try.





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10 responses so far

  • Michael O.

    Dunham made Tiny Furniture at the same as Louie came out, and it’s basically Girls in miniature. Good movie and good shows both, but I think Dunham can stand alone on this one.

    Adam became my favorite character by the end of the serious, though I didn’t like him much at first. I think that’s a brilliant trick if you can pull it off, gradually making a detestable character sympathetic as more of him is revealed.

  • http://www.mandyatlarge.com Mandy

    Really? I can barely stand this show.. Listening to them all arguing …and even talking most of the time is like nails on chalkboards.. I don’t like the emotional roller coaster that girls like this seem to force upon themselves; the cat fighting, complaining, analyzing and over analyzing.. these are the types of girls I just try to stay away from. This show is real, very very real. But it’s about girls and girl dramas.

    Sure, they’re cool girls, but they seem so immature. It just drives me crazy because all their big drama fights and things are mostly so trivial and stupid. Get over it, and get to work…

    Passive, southern girl myself, perhaps that’s why I find it hard to relate?

    I have watched most of this series and my favorite character by far is Adam, which everyone seems to hate.. so.

  • the_dude_abides

    I did the same thing paul. Discovered HBOGO and checked this out. its a very good and well written show. I have my issues with somethings IE adam was a little too much of dick. I mean i rewatched the first few episodes after watching the whole season and there are parts where it was a little hard to swallow the whole thing that he was really just a nice guy all a long. Even still i enjoy the show a lot and it does have a louie like quality to it. I read somewhere that the show is following a trend in that rather the characters evolve the viewer is exposed to different parts of them. I think the second season will be of Louie quality.

  • Tim

    Paul Tassi – Modern girl making it in the big city… set to the backdrop of the cut-throat world of journalism.

    I’m just messing around. Sounds like an interesting show. HBO always knows how to do it. Looking for something new as I’m finishing up with Misfits (which is simply mind-blowing). Have a great weekend!

  • Laura Frances

    Misfits is mind-blowing. I love that show. I’m glad you discovered Girls Paul Tassi! If you have time, check out this little web series by Dunham, starring Dunham. I found it really funny. It’s called Tight Shots:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w_7wDVPsuIY

  • Billiam

    I find watching this show is more effort than enjoyment. I have to struggle to empathize with the characters, and I feel that if I were a girl I’d get it, but I’m not so I don’t.

  • Sean Fast

    Glad you promoted the show. I loved it since the first episode, and have a lot of trouble convincing my guy friends to give it a chance.

  • keo

    Misfits sucks balls. The first season was very solid, -the very anti christian christmas episode. I coudn’t stand that Irish kid.

    Girls on the other hand is pure garbage, the only reason i watch it is because those 2 girls are hella hot. I can’t stand Hannah, she has got to be the most despicable character I have ever seen on TV. Fucking fat jobless leeching bum. I’m the type of person that feels dirty after watching porn and unloading my future kids. Happens everytime, and I feel fucking gross after watching one episode of this show. It’s so gross.

    I do recommend guys my age (I’m 27) watching this show, so that you can recognize the behaivioral patterns of the women you need to stay the fuck away from. The girls on this show, are the shit of the world. Despicable in every way.

  • kayla

    I can get on board with this article. I can relate to the feeling of getting shocked into growing up and only having yourself and the support of your friends to hold you up. I can also agree that they should’ve done away with Adam. Any self respecting girl would have ditched him ages ago. At the same time, what show doesn’t have those characters that get under your skin? I still have a few more episodes I need to watch in the season. Between school and my job at Dish, I never have time to keep up with a series each week and I’m about to lose my free trial of HBO too! Luckily, I just upgraded my whole home DVR to the Hopper so I just recorded the episodes. Since there is so much recording space, I won’t have to worry about deleting them. I hope the episodes I have yet to see don’t let me down!

  • Diego

    Really? this is like a 20 something girl looks like in New York? I live in Argentina so I don’t have any idea but….hell… they are just too dramatic on the very insignificant things they have to deal with. Yes, your boyfriend is a dick, GET OVER IT! You don’t have money, get a job! You don’t like the job that you got? Deal with it! That’s what you are being paid for!
    I just don’t know. Doesn’t feel real to me. Is it really that easy to get laid in the U.S?
    I agree with Paul that Shoshanna and the Brit girl are one-dimensional characters where you can’t believe they are real life people.
    Hannah is like a 12 year old girl, complaining all the time, mistreating her parents (which, by the way, are the only characters I really care about in the show) on a 24 year old “woman” body.
    Hanna’s roommate is the only one that makes sense to me.
    After saying all that, I somehow feel compelled to finish the first season (3 more to go). It’s a strange feeling.

    Regards!
    ps: I have a rule of thumb, if the protagonists (in this case, every girl in the show except Hannah) are good-looking people, the show usually sucks in the end (Terra Nova, V, etc). If not, we get The Wire, Sopranos, Breaking Bad, etc…

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