Spring 2012 Review: Girls

16 Apr

Three Out Of Four Titular Girls

It’s hard to review this show because there’s been so many lines already written about it, before the show even aired, that I feel like I’ve become burdened with expectations, good and bad, though mostly good, that have far outweighed whatever the mere half hour of television that I’ve seen could possibly offer.  I don’t think I can remember the most recent show to come out of the gate with such critical buzz (I’m sure there was one, but I can’t pull it at the moment), and I feel handcuffed.  I’ll probably take another stab at this when three or four episodes are under my belt.  However, it’d be cheating if I didn’t at least try based on the first episode.

For whoever may actually not know what Girls is about, it’s about four women in their mid-20s trying to put their lives together in New York City.  Let’s specify further.  It’s about four white, fairly entitled, women, in their mid-20s, trying to put their life together.  I don’t mean anything by adding those qualifiers to my description, but it’s important, and much of the early criticism of the show has centered on either the all-white or the entitlement aspect, neither of which I think, on their face are fair.  I generally don’t agree with straight out subject matter criticism, except in terms of the difficulty of bringing something new to a ground trampled so many times before, and that’s really more of a problem for police and lawyer and doctor shows, than just about any show about women of any age or status anyway.

So here are the actually contents of the show.  Primary character Hannah, portrayed by creator, auteur, writer, director Lena Dunham, who has been interning for a year without pay while writing her memoir, finds out that she’s getting cut off, financially, from her Midwestern professor parents.  She’s despondent, having no cash, and has to figure out how to deal.  She also goes over to her boyfriend’s (maybe just a fuckbuddy (one word or two?) type) place, an actor/carpenter who doesn’t respond to her texts and appears to not really care much about her, and proceeds to have sex with him, leading to one of the most-talked about aspects of the show, the super awkward uncomfortable sex scenes.  I thought the hype here was a little overblown.  It’s unquestionably awkward, and certainly not glamorous, but hardly revolutionary or worth expending thousands of words over (maybe there’s plenty more to talk about in the next few episodes?).  Hannah’s friends include Marnie (I honestly had to look up the names of these characters, besides Hannah, I couldn’t figure them out/didn’t remember them from the episode), who is dating an oversensitive wus, who she can’t stand the touch of, but seems to be afraid of breaking up with.   The other two main characters are Hannah’s other friend, European Jessa who appears to be everything Marnie is not, flighty and pretentious, and Jessa’s roomate, Shoshanna (I really don’t remember hearing this name) who appears at least mildly airheady, who makes the obligatory lampshade hanging Sex and the City joke, acknowledging the parallel, that for good or ill, it’s impossible not to draw about a half hour show on HBO about four female friends.

An article I read felt that Girls’ closest contemporary, rather than Sex in the City was FX’s Louie, and in this short time I can see some resemblance.  Girls has funny lines, but it’s not a traditional comedy, in either having jokes, or in any kind of significantly “ha ha” moments.  It’s focus seems to be more on being poignant and “real;” far less absurdist than Louie, but probably trying to get at the same ideas.

Basically, I feel like I don’t know how I feel (that’s a ponderous sentence, no).  It was a watchable, and interesting, if not please-sir-can-I-have-some-more viewing experience, and I do feel fairly confident I’d at least come back for seconds without all the expectations hanging over the show.  As an entitled 20-something white person, albeit a male, I fit at least some of the categories the show is discussing, so I’ll grant that the show has the potential to have more resonance for me than for some others.  I’m not blown away into the sphere of what a visionary Dunham is, but hey, it’s just one episode.

Will I watch it again?  Yeah, I need to know more for better or for ill.  I really do think it will be for better, though.  Can this many critics be wrong?

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