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It's interesting. Of the television reviews I've done for this column, most have involved series with a female protagonist. But this is probably the most controversial of the bunch, because of the social issues people see in the show. And truth be told, I find the reactions to HBO's Girls much more interesting than the show itself.

The series, created and starring Lena Dunham and produced by Judd Apatow, is about the lives of twenty-something women living in Brooklyn. Since both are HBO series, Girls is usually likened to Sex and the City, but as a more hipster-ish, Freaks and Geeks version of Sex and the City. However, in its three seasons, the show has also spurred many debates in the media about sexism in audience reactions, female representations on television, and racial diversity (or lack thereof) in storytelling.

In some ways, the debates that surround Girls are continuations of an old argument that applies to television as a whole. But part of the reason these issues received traction in the media with this series in particular is that HBO hyped the show as being a "woman's show," created by a young woman, that is supposed to have something funny/distinctive to say about the lives and relationships of young, aspiring women. For those that love the show, Girls is a series that provides an honest depiction of the awkwardness and faults that many millennials have experienced while making the transition to adulthood. For others, it's a series with self-indulgent, whiny, unlikable, privileged characters that thinks it's more profound about life than its narrative provides.

Please read below the fold for more on Girls.

Last Thursday, at a Television Critics Association (TCA) panel for HBO's Girls in advance of its season 3 premiere, the debate about some of those social issues connected to the show resurfaced again in a contentious session.

The first question to the panel (and Dunham specifically), by The Wrap's Tim Molloy, seemed to set the tone, and became exhibit "ZZ" of how the series is a cultural lightning rod.

Tim Molloy: “I don’t get the purpose of all the nudity on the show. By you particularly. I feel like I’m walking into a trap where you say no one complains about the nudity on ‘Game of Thrones,’ but I get why they’re doing it. They’re doing it to be salacious. To titillate people. And your character is often naked at random times for no reason.”

Lena Dunham: “Yeah. It’s because it’s a realistic expression of what it’s like to be alive, I think, and I totally get it. If you are not into me, that’s your problem.”

Judd Apatow: “Do you have a girlfriend?”

Tim Molloy: “Sure.”

Judd Apatow: “Does she like you?”

Tim Molloy: “Yeah.”

Judd Apatow: “Let’s see how she likes you when you quote that with your question and just write the whole question… and tell me how it goes tonight.”

According to Molloy, he wasn't trying to be disrespectful towards Dunham, and he wasn't saying there was anything "wrong" with Dunham being nude. He only wanted to know if there was some sort of artistic reason for why Dunham's character Hannah is nude so often in the show. However, others saw it as an example of misogyny towards Dunham and sexism the show engenders. Girls executive producer and writer Jenni Konner, who said she was enraged and sickened by someone accusing "a woman of showing her body too much."

Defenders of the show have argued that many of the criticisms lodged against the show and Dunham are rooted in sexism. For example, one of the charges leveled against the show was nepotism, since all four leads have famous parents. But so does J.J. Abrams and Joss Whedon, however their parentage never seemed to come up when people and the media discuss their success.  

Lena Dunham as Hannah Horvath, Jemima Kirke as Jessa Johanson, Zosie Mamet as Shoshanna Shapiro, and Allison Williams as Marnie Michaels
On the other end of the spectrum, Girls and Dunham have come under heavy criticism for the show's lack of racial diversity with its all-white cast, and the argument that in the Girls universe there seems to be very few black people or people of color in one of the most diverse cities on the planet (i.e. New York City). That criticism has been present since season 1 and it has never really gone away. Also, some of the staff at Girls responded to these critiques in the worst way possible, and that kicked the issue up another DEFCON level.

However, some reviewers have argued the lack of diversity may be true to the depiction of the characters, which are all self-centered and insulated to their own little world. And this is not a new criticism of television shows and films set in NYC. Both Seinfeld and Friends were criticized for a lack of diversity in the depiction of the social circle their respective characters inhabited. And Woody Allen is a man who's dedicated a huge chunk of his life to making films about New York and is largely identified with the city, but I don't think I'm being unfair by saying one could probably count on both hands the amount of black characters who've been in his films over the decades.

At the end of season 2, Hannah's life was falling apart. But as we begin the new season, it's Hannah and Adam (Adam Driver) who are back together, have a modicum of stability, and the lives of all the other characters are in even shittier places. Hannah is still as big of a narcissist and a horrible human being as ever, but there's at least a semblance of a goal in her life. Jessa (Jemima Kirke) is in rehab, Marnie is living at home after being dumped by Charlie, and Shoshanna (Zosie Mamet) wakes up to find herself under the arm of some college guy.

From Rebecca Nicholson at The Guardian:

Whether the four girls of Girls are relatable or indeed likeable [is] a recurring theme ... "I never want to pull out the sexism trump card but I think there's been a lot of license for men to act a lot of really ugly ways on film and television," said Dunham, "and I feel so lucky that we're not held to any standard of sweet female decency. People say, well, how do we sympathise with them? And it's funny, because you seem to like Walter White," referring to the antihero in hit show Breaking Bad.
  • Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: My problem with the show has always been how much I find myself not caring about these characters or their "journeys," even though the show wants us to care about Hannah's relationship with an asshole like Adam. It's not just that the characters are unlikable (which they are), but the show never really gives us a reason to empathize with the characters. Dunham's comparison to Breaking Bad misses the point. People don't sympathize with Walter White because of the ugly ways he acted. They sympathized with that character, and went along with his journey because there was a foundation to the character's arc where you could understand why he went down the path he did. Compare that with the four leads of Girls. Each one represents a "reality" that exists and interesting as character studies. But the problems of Hannah and her friends are largely of their own making, and the show doesn't endear me to them when the characters wallow in their own insecurities and self-pity. It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia is also a show centered around awful characters, but it overtly acknowledges how awful they are. On the other hand, Girls seems more ambivalent as to whether we're supposed to be "rooting" for Hannah as she acts like an awful person.
  • On The Other Hand: The most interesting thing about the series is how the characters address issues and talk about things in a way that other television programs don't when addressing the lives and insecurities of twenty-somethings. For example, one of Lena Dunham's central themes for the show seems to be that the belief that people's 20s are the best years of their lives is a fallacy. In his preview for season 3, Andy Greenwald over at Grantland explains that one of Girls' strengths is that it captures all the possibilities and ambitions that a person who's new to New York City encounters, and how that crashes into the lines of reality.
  • The Sex and the City Comparison: Both series are centered around female writers and their three female friends living their lives in New York City. The biggest difference between the two is age, status, and zip code. The most interesting thing is that I'm sure there are more Hannah Horvaths in the world than Carrie Bradshaws. But the women I know that are fans of both, and are in the same age group as the Girls characters, identify more with the Sex and the City characters. And I think that's because Sex and the City is "aspirational" in a way that Girls is honest. Would you rather be the independent and wealthy woman, with a closet full of Manolo Blahniks that has a millionaire "Mr. Big" infatuated with you, or the attractive cougar that can do and say what she wants and have any hot guy that she desires? Girls in a lot of ways deconstructs the Sex and the City characters, with Jessa being Samantha's (Kim Cattrall) counterpart through which we see how awful and destructive that character would be in a reality deprived of glamour.
From Emily Nussbaum at the New Yorker:
Carrie and her friends—Miranda, Samantha, and Charlotte—were odder birds by far, jagged, aggressive, and sometimes frightening figures, like a makeup mirror lit up in neon. They were simultaneously real and abstract, emotionally complex and philosophically stylized. Women identified with them—“I’m a Carrie!”—but then became furious when they showed flaws. And, with the exception of Charlotte (Kristin Davis), men didn’t find them likable: there were endless cruel jokes about Samantha (Kim Cattrall), Miranda (Cynthia Nixon), and Carrie as sluts, man-haters, or gold-diggers. To me, as a single woman, it felt like a definite sign of progress: since the elemental representation of single life at the time was the comic strip “Cathy” (ack! chocolate!), better that one’s life should be viewed as glamorously threatening than as sad and lonely.
  • On The Other Hand, Part II: Going back to Tim Molloy's question at the TCA the other day and putting it together with some of what Emily Nussbaum wrote above, I wonder if societal standards of attractiveness and socioeconomics plays a big part in people's perceptions of the show? For example, if Lena Dunham was conventionally attractive for television (and for the record, I'm not saying she's ugly or that she's not attractive), I wonder if the negative reaction to her character and the off-putting unlikability would be there? If this were a show fronted by Zooey Deschanel (The New Girl) or Kaley Cuoco (The Big Bang Theory) or Kat Dennings (Two Broke Girls), would Molloy be standing in front of an audience asking a question about why the actress was nude so much in the show? Also, and this is true in life in many respects, but being attractive gives people a certain amount of leeway to be awful that you don't have when society perceives you as plain. Just as you have more leeway to be awful when you're wealthy like the women in Sex and the City instead of struggling like the characters in Girls. One of the more interesting aspects of analysis about this show as a reflection of society is wondering whether the perception of Hannah and the other characters on the show would be totally different if some of those circumstances were changed. Also, flip the genders. If the show was Guys instead, and its creator and main character was an insecure, slightly overweight male aspiring writer, would the audience have reacted with the same issues?
  • Diversity In Fiction: The arguments over diversity in Girls gets into some of the same arguments bandied about with affirmative action. When we're talking about positions within government, educational opportunities, and even the hiring performance of companies and corporations, diversity has become at the very least an important agreed upon "goal" in most people's eyes (even if they may disagree about how you go about getting there). But does a writer or producer have a duty to present diversity when telling a story? If we're dealing with fiction, something that by its very nature can be unrealistic, does that fiction have to at least represent race, gender, orientation, etc., in a realistic way? I think the reason why Girls continues to get hit with this criticism is because the people behind it market the show as being a meaningful exploration of female relationships that has realism. And if you market your show as being "real," well people are going to call you on any departure from reality. Although, if we're talking about reality, there's no fuckin' way that Hannah and Marnie could afford their apartment in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

Originally posted to 医生的宫殿 on Mon Jan 13, 2014 at 09:48 AM PST.

Also republished by Sex, Body, and Gender and Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Banshee has total nudity (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rb608, Doctor RJ, Aunt Pat, ER Doc

    I like the show

    I dont know what 'Girls' is about and for sure I wont watch to find out.

  •  I tried watching a couple of times. (11+ / 0-)

    Really depressing. Women being used by utter assholes. Just don't get it. Tho I have to admit, I haven't watched ten minutes of it in toto.

    For someone who put so much work into writing this, you don't seem very fond of it either.

    GOP: Bankers, billionaires, suckers, and dupes.

    by gzodik on Mon Jan 13, 2014 at 10:07:14 AM PST

  •  Using J.J. Abrams & Joss Whedon... (10+ / 0-)

    to push back against nepotism charges is like using the IRS "scandal" as a defense against "Bridgegate," IMO.

    :-)

  •  Not a fan at all (6+ / 0-)

    I gave the show a fair shot and I watched "Tiny Furniture" as well.

    Two people we wont be talking about in 2016: Chris Christie and Lena Dunham

  •  reactions more interesting than the show.. (8+ / 0-)

    indeed!

    And truth be told, I find the reactions to HBO's Girls much more interesting than the show itself.
    So do I.  The show has really anemic ratings.  And I tend to wonder who it is that is doing all the "talk" about the show, since hardly anyone (relatively) watches it.

    Last year's season finale had 600k viewers!  The networks generally have well over 10 million viewers on any given night.  And Sex and the City drew over 10 million for their finale.

    mystifying...

  •  My daughter loves the show. (8+ / 0-)

    Of course, she's a 30-something woman, who married young and wishes she had been a 20-someting without the responsibilities of a family.  I gave the show a try, on her recommendation, and found it shallow and couldn't stay with it.

    As for the nudity, we are all nude underneath our clothes.  Shedding those clothes is easier for some than others.  Perhaps those that are more modest have trouble with those that are not.

    Bottom line: it's a show that appeals to a certain audience.  If one doesn't like it, there's always the choice not to watch it.

    Human dignity + compassion = Peace (Anonymous)

    by Raggedy Ann on Mon Jan 13, 2014 at 10:33:50 AM PST

  •  Excellent Analysis (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Doctor RJ, Matt Z, Nespolo

    I don't watch the show regularly but have seen some and the reason why it's not must see TV for me is that I just don't give a crap about the characters on it at all.

    While I agree it's a nice counterpoint to the SATC series showing a much more realistic world for young women living in NY, that's about all it offers and it's not enough to make it must see TV for me. Of course I'm probably not the target audience anyway.

    I do agree with your comments regarding the nudity and sexism that are so common in our society. If Dunham were classically beautiful/sexy many of these issues would disappear.

    I think in the end the show will be hailed for being groundbreaking in it's blunt depiction of the struggles young single women face while trying to live in NY (or really anywhere) while dealing with a world that wants to pigeonhole them and force them into traditional roles/viewpoints and for that I applaud the show and people involved with making it.

    Voting straight party D 'til there's no GOP...
    Oh and the name is Jim, not Tim, the user name is a typo

    by jusjtim35 on Mon Jan 13, 2014 at 10:37:10 AM PST

  •  Celebrities are good looking for a reason, (4+ / 0-)

    we want to escape when we seek entertainment and we are material beings who like symmetry and beauty, so I do not want to see Lena naked, shoot me, flame me, but her critics are correct

    "The poor can never be made to suffer enough." Jimmy Breslin

    by merrywidow on Mon Jan 13, 2014 at 10:41:05 AM PST

  •  for me (8+ / 0-)

    anything apatow is a non-starter. everything he does is trite, shallow, and puerile. i also wasn't a fan of sex in the city. i watched some episodes, and found them mildly amusing, but it ultimately came down to this- were these people i would have any interest in spending any time with in real life? no.

    The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

    by Laurence Lewis on Mon Jan 13, 2014 at 10:42:25 AM PST

  •  My problem with the show, that I've only seen (6+ / 0-)

    smidgets of, is that for all its talk about being groundbreaking, it sounds rather pedestrian.  There are tons of shows about the tragic and difficult lives of white people in their 20s.  I've seen it from every angle.  I've seen it played for laughs , I've seen it played for drama, I've seen it make you want to cry, and I've seen it make you want to pull your hair out.  I've seen it in comedy form, drama form, and reality TV.  I've seen it in LA and NYC. I've also seen NYC as a backdrop in like 30 different shows as well.  Judd Apatow hasn't been involved in anything original in 15 years.  He writes and produces shows about the lives of affluent 20 something white people, either their past or their future.

    The show kind of reflects a sort of narcisstic edge people prefer in their entertainment - if the show reflects your life, you'll probably watch.  If it doesn't, you probably don't care.  Indeed that is why Girls isn't the cultural milestone it sets out to be.  It doesn't cross enough class/race/sex boundaries to bring in a diverse enough audience.  Its not really telling a timeless story.  Its telling a very specific story that appeals to a very specific audience.  

  •  The reaction is really interesting. I don't think (10+ / 0-)

    anyone would be asking Lena Dunham why she felt the need to be naked on screen so often if she was the kind of woman we normally see naked on TV. I don't think I've ever heard a man complain about why a conventionally beautiful woman is ever naked.

    But she's not the kind of woman we usually see naked anywhere. She has tattoos and a real body. Well, I don't know what she weighs, but I bet she's thinner than your average woman, who's a size 14, but she's not thin enough by normal TV-naked-woman standards.

    I think what she's trying to do by being naked is to say, Hey, here I am. This is what a real woman looks like, not what you see on TV.

    And I think what she's doing with the series is trying to show what's going on with young women of her generation. They're trying to figure things out, and it's messy and uncomfortable and frustrating and sad and funny.

    She shows us this reality of hers, and a lot of people don't like it or are uncomfortable with it.

    If you think back to Sex and the City, a lot of people were uncomfortable with it, too. Women who sleep with lots of men? Who swap bed partners the way men are often portrayed to do? No, some people didn't like that. They thought the S&TC girls were too aggressive, too unfeeling, too whiny, too cynical, too self-centered and slept with way too many men and managed to live in a very expensive city by barely working. But they were skinny and considered more conventionally beautiful. I don't recall anyone complaining about them being naked too much.

    Confession time: When I'm not ranting about politics, I write romance novels

    by teresahill on Mon Jan 13, 2014 at 11:15:56 AM PST

    •  The normalization of normal women (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kkjohnson, 420 forever, Sychotic1, chuckvw

      Lena Dunham had responded to the nudity questions in the past. Her gist of it was that she was simply trying to have a realistic portrayal of real women on TV.

      I am a fan of the show and I admit that the nudity is fairly jarring for me, but at the same time I do support Lena Dunham's provocative display. She puts the issue out front where it cannot be ignored. Good for her.

  •  I can't get past Lena Dunham's tatoos. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lying eyes, Jay C, phatcat cane

    totally hideous.

  •  oh man (8+ / 0-)

    you totally nailed it:

    For others, it's a series with self-indulgent, whiny, unlikable, privileged characters that thinks its more profound about life than it's narrative provides.
    That's me. Tried to watch two different episodes, couldn't make it through the entire episode. I found them whiny, unlikeable and privileged. I aspire to never raising a child like these girls. Thankfully, I don't think I have.
    •  I found them to be largely unsympathetic.... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      old possum, ER Doc, blue speck

      .....and yet strangely compelling, which is probably why I'm still watching the show three seasons in. I've seen shows or movies that have unsympathetic characters that I care nothing for, but this is different.

      •  I agree -- they are awful (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ER Doc

        and yet somehow fascinating.  Maybe it's partly schadenfreude.

        My mind keeps going back to Seinfeld, which I think people forget because it has such a different look and style from Girls.  But those four characters were also horrible, cynical, self-centered people, and it was just fascinating to watch them flail through the ridiculous situations they got themselves into.

        •  That show was funny. Girls? (0+ / 0-)

          Not so much.

          I do agree that the most interesting thing about it is the reactions

          Deserves it! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends. - Gandalf the Grey

          by No Exit on Tue Jan 14, 2014 at 07:23:49 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  I've been a fan of the show since day one (7+ / 0-)

    I think it's refreshing and compelling. Partly because it is so shockingly different from every other drama show on TV, or even on HBO. I love Curb Your Enthusiasm as well. I will grant you that Larry David's show has a universal appeal that Girls is lacking. But at its core both shows are ways of milking absurdist humor out of our mundane existence. You think Lena Dunham's character is not likeable? Well- neither is Larry David's character. The difference is that Larry David's show is more of a laugh-a-minute comedy. Whereas Girls, is not really laugh-out loud comedy. It is a more social commentary and mild-comedy (with the exception of Shoshana- whose comedic timing is expressions are impeccable). At the heart of Girls, though, is a fairly innocent and gentle love story between Hannah and Adam.

    Having said that though-  the show is fairly uneven. Some episodes are clearly better written than others. And Marnie's character, especially, has been suffering from some really lazy writing. She has been stuck in her pining-for-lost-boyfriend rut for way too many episodes by now.

  •  She never seems to get (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ER Doc, Doctor RJ, No Exit, politicalceci

    That the main problem is that it's boring.

    All those other shows and characters she compares her show to, they are interesting. To me, anyway, that's the difference. I care less about nudity. More about not being bored to death.

  •  Thank god I don't have a teevee (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ER Doc, Doctor RJ

    I do subscribe to hulu where I can find sensibile looking women and totally drunk/drugged hilarious females Brit teevee (Absolutely Fabulous).  

    Any cop show that has women with cleavage and heals on the job is for shite.  Other than that -- find me an average to homely looking woman in a god role and I might sign up for cable.  Obviously, I'll not be spending any money.

    " My faith in the Constitution is whole; it is complete; it is total." Barbara Jordan, 1974

    by gchaucer2 on Mon Jan 13, 2014 at 07:22:22 PM PST

  •  I love the show. I can't explain why. I just do. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cardinal, ER Doc, Doctor RJ
  •  Speaking of hipsters (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    No Exit
    !. . .it's a series with self-indulgent, whiny, unlikable, privileged characters that thinks it's more profound about life than its narrative provides.
    . . .Girls is a series that provides an honest depiction of the awkwardness and faults that many millennials have experienced while making the transition to adulthood.
  •  I watch it for two reasons (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Doctor RJ

    I'm a 50 year old male. I'm attracted to Lena Dunham.

    Hey, I'm an iconoclast.

    Remember, the road to victory is paved with big words and professorial arrogance. Passion need not apply.

    by The Lone Apple on Mon Jan 13, 2014 at 07:31:10 PM PST

  •  Valley Girls! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    peregrine kate, Doctor RJ

    I was a casual watcher but decided to DVR the first few episodes this week and park my butt and watch.

    I got as far as 11 minutes or so in and turned it off.  The scene was in the hotel room with Adam, Hannah and Shoshanna (I think that's their names)

    They sounded like valley girls from the 80's!! And Adam was a brooding, self important a-hole.  

    I have removed this from my season pass.  

    January 1, 2014 - I will again be an "insured" cancer survivor-thank you Pres. Obama!!!!!

    by ArtemisBSG on Mon Jan 13, 2014 at 07:32:50 PM PST

  •  I watched the first show (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ER Doc

    That was enough for me.

  •  The characters are very much of their age (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cardinal, ER Doc, Doctor RJ

    and class, as are, as it happens, the principal cast members. The show for me is a comedy of manners.

    Dunham is a talented writer who tends toward the confessional. Her intention isn't to flatter herself or her peers, but to create characters that are somewhat conflicted about (if not afflicted with) their privilege, their stymied sense of entitlement.

    Perhaps Hannah will get an internship at the Clinton Foundation next season. Or maybe Dunham will! And, alas, it won't be all that grand an experience...

    It's not a show I exactly like, but it is a show the ambition of which I respect. Dunham is a writer to watch.

    It always seems impossible until its done. -Nelson Mandela

    by chuckvw on Mon Jan 13, 2014 at 07:45:10 PM PST

  •  I'm surprised so many (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ER Doc, Doctor RJ

    commenters don't like it.

    I found the first season to be a bit uneven. I couldn't relate to the characters, so it felt more like voyeurism (perhaps because I'm a 40-year-old suburban man), as well as a reminder that I'm really glad not to be 25 anymore.

    But season two was phenomenal -- it really hit its stride. Her OCD story line was as realistic as I've ever seen real OCD (not the "haha he washes his hands a lot" TV caricature of it) portrayed in any medium, ever.

    As for the nudity. . .whatever. The only awkward thing about it is that the other leads appear to have no-nudity clauses, which forces them to stage totally unrealistic sex scenes (like a woman covering her breasts with her arms for no apparent reason, or the guy is naked but the woman kept her clothes on).

    I look forward to season three.  

    You won't believe what this gay dolphin said to a homeless child. First you'll be angry, but then at the 1:34 mark your nose will bleed tears of joy.

    by cardinal on Mon Jan 13, 2014 at 07:46:17 PM PST

  •  The show has no humanity... (5+ / 0-)

    I remember - often fondly - being a narcissistic, self-centered little shit in my 20s. I had bad relationships, couldn't hold down a job, and felt entitled to much I didn't deserve. through it all, however, I was human. I cared for my friends when they lost their parents, I made long road trips to see my sister, I was kind to my exes, volunteered, protested injustice, helped a colleague without seeking gain...I was self indulgent, but that didn't stop me from being human. I think we were all this way, and yet, these terrible creatures on Girls are every bad instinct I had with absolutely no balance. I weep for anyone who sees their life reflected honestly here.

  •  Dreary (5+ / 0-)

    I just find the show uninteresting. I don't mind unappealing characters, but they have to be interesting in some way.

    Also, the plot events often don't seem to have much effect on the characters. There's a huge fight, but it comes to nothing. There's a sexual encounter, and it's never mentioned again. Maybe this is really postmodern or something, but the attitude of the women towards sex ("Do whatever you like with me, as long as I can call you my boyfriend") is so retro, it's kind of hard to make the show seem modern.  90210 had more feminist characters than this.

    But it was mildly interesting for awhile. Adam was so utterly despicable, it was fun to imagine what else he could do to Hannah and have her still want to be his girlfriend. I did keep watching, but I'm not going to spend money to watch it this season. Just kind of dreary and gray, and maybe that's the point of how dreary 20-something lives are now, but I actually think real young people are having more fun.

    •  I can't think of many characters or stories (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      politicalceci

      whether in print, on TV or in movies that I'd be interested in who had no redeeming or interesting features. I mean, Lady Macbeth is one of fiction's great villains, but no one could accuse her of being boring. Is this seen as the new "in" aesthetic, the non-interesting and thus more "real" character? Isn't there enough of that in real life? Or is that the whole point?

      "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

      by kovie on Mon Jan 13, 2014 at 08:22:30 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Never seen even a minute of Girls (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tea Party Necropsy

    But, being a man pushing 50 and not terribly impressed with many of today's 20-somethings, who strike me as--wait for it--more immersed in their phones, laptops and tablets and the illusory virtual world they help create than in the real world around and beyond them, and overall self-obsessed and indulgent (but then when has that not been true of young people), I'm not sure I'd like it anyway. Is there much humor in it, or do the characters at least not always take themselves too seriously or realize that it's not all about them, because without humor and perspective it's hard for me to be interested in characters or stories. Plus, I'm SO not into hipster "culture".

    "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

    by kovie on Mon Jan 13, 2014 at 08:19:16 PM PST

  •  I always thought Curb Your Enthusiasm (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ER Doc, Doctor RJ, politicalceci

    is a better analogy to Girls than Sex in the City.  The show is about an asshole who continually ruins their life in ways that are completely unnecessary but generally humorous.  I like to say it's a pretty good show about some really awful people.

    I think the thread identifies a lot of the major problems with the show.  One I will comment on is the nudity.  I think Dunham intends this to be realistic.  And she's probably right that her character would be nude during a lot of these scenes.  But that's distracting to an American audience.  We're used to camera angles and editing that minimizes nudity, except for brief, gratuitous titilation.  Maybe this is ground breaking stuff, but for now, it more often does a disservice to the plot.

    "Unrestricted immigration is a dangerous thing -- look at what happened to the Iroquois." Garrison Keillor

    by Spider Stumbled on Mon Jan 13, 2014 at 08:55:29 PM PST

  •  As woman of color, it's quite like being on (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ER Doc, Doctor RJ, gramofsam1

    the outside looking in when watching shows like Girls and Sex and the City. Both shows fall along the lines of Mad Men and Breaking Bad when one is subjected to a version of the world where people like me are either "just seen", have few lines, or mainly exist to demonstrate a minor plot point.

    Both shows represent alien worlds which speak for the experiences of a distinct group of women that aren't like myself or a lot of the people I know.  It's like being a fly on the wall observing a private, exclusive club that is only open to selective members.

    On that reason, both shows seem quite pretentious to me.

    When a viewer of color like myself watches both programs, a lot of attention is paid to the glaring absences that leave me lacking in terms of feeing included as a member of society, let alone my own country.  

    When showrunners, producers, writers and actors seem to gloss over the diversity question, it sets television back to its infancy depicting a world that hides and rejects people of color in America.

    "Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." --Benjamin Franklin

    by politicalceci on Mon Jan 13, 2014 at 09:29:11 PM PST

  •  I didn't enjoy the show. (4+ / 0-)

    I felt that there was some political, perhaps feminist subtext to it that I wasn't really invited to participate in as a male viewer, or just as somebody who can't identify with people these people are categorize them as something within my experience except shallow jerks I've known who didn't realize what shallow jerks they were.

    I thought Tina Fey's takedown of Girls captured my thoughts on it exactly, heh.

    So what if it were a show about stupid young men in their 20s who are trying to get laid?  Well, there have been plenty of flicks like that, most of them very banal.  I suppose there are a few exceptions, like Diner, that stand out because they had good directing and acting and I didn't feel coerced to actually think of the people in it as anything better than the usual rabble.

  •  I really like the show. I never miss it. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ER Doc

    I read that the Hannah character is a 'narcissist and a horrible human being' but I never see that.  I thought she was just normal.  Her OCD seems normal.  As for her nudity - she looks very similar to the handful of women I have actually seen naked.  Her character seems very real to me.  Her boyfriend Adam seems more than a little wacked but not so different from many young guys.  Jessa seems like a typical open family/nature kind of spirit but not privileged.  The character Marnie is way above my income/class level so I see her behavior and choices as a little enigmatic.  Shoshanna is just wild and I cannot think of her as self-indulgent, whiny, unlikable or privileged.  I mean, almost everyone I know is whiny and self-indulgent (including me) so it becomes a moot point.  I'm not sure if the show is groudbreaking but it is definitely enjoyable.

  •  Two things (0+ / 0-)

    1)  If the show was really good, we wouldn't be having these discussions that are not really about the show.  From the beginning, same complaints, same responses, same tiny audience.

    2)  The nudity of people who are not that attractive when nude (like nearly everybody on earth) is a gimmick. If the show was really good, it wouldn't need to keep using the same gimmick.

    The history of music is mortal, but the idiocy of the guitar is eternal. ― Milan Kundera, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting

    by James Earl on Tue Jan 14, 2014 at 02:38:28 AM PST

  •  "Girls" is genius. (0+ / 0-)

    I'm a 57 year-old white male living in Texas.  I can't relate to "Girls" at all.  And that's why I love it so much.  It fascinates me.  I'm fascinated by beautiful, brilliant, talented, mysterious young women.  So sue me.  I guess I'm only supposed to relate to "Matlock" and "Walker Texas Ranger?"  If so, just shoot me now.

    "One of the boss' hangers-on sometimes comes to call, at times you least expect. Tryin' to bully you, strongarm you, inspire you with fear--it has the opposite effect."--Bob Dylan, "Floater"

    by oldmaestro on Tue Jan 14, 2014 at 05:18:26 AM PST

  •  Character development (0+ / 0-)

    I was addicted to the first Season of Girls. Each episode, I wondered WHY I was watching it. Maybe trying to see how 20 something New Yorkers live from my 58 year old male NJ burbs perspective.  I had to give Lena Dunham props for her character arc. From the beginning I was constantly dumbfounded as to WHY Hannah would want to stay with Adam, but by the end of the first season I couldn't figure out WHY Adam cared to have anything to do with Hannah!!

    Lost interest and never watched the 2nd season.

  •  They remind me of my daughter's crew (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Doctor RJ

    Picture this:

    A group of 23 year old females, steeped in  feminist theory acquired in Women's Studies classes,  but in practice, surround themselves with sub-standard, immature dudes to whom they have relinquished their self respect. They spend their days commiserating about their bad choices.  Yet, they faithfully watch "Girls" when they aren't watching the "Kardashians" and mock the ridiculousness of both.

    In loyalty to their kind, they cannot tolerate our minds. In loyalty to our kind, We cannot tolerate their obstruction.

    by mojave mike on Tue Jan 14, 2014 at 08:59:50 AM PST

  •  sounds hideous (0+ / 0-)


    I don't regret giving up watching TV in the 90's.  Looks like I made the right choice.

    "Kossacks are held to a higher standard. Like Hebrew National hot dogs." - blueaardvark

    by louisev on Tue Jan 14, 2014 at 09:00:31 AM PST

  •  Well done. nt (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Doctor RJ
  •  I enjoyed your review. (0+ / 0-)

    I've actually only seen a few episodes of the show, and I didn't find myself caring much about the characters either. I watched it originally specifically because someone talked about it as being a sort "response" to Sex In The City.

    Where Sex in the City presented rather idealized lifestyles that few people of this generation will ever see, Girl is talking about lifestyles of the average millenial today.

    I think the sad thing about that comparison is that whenever people do something like that, the characters always end up looking pathetic and small.

    Frankly, I don't believe that it's that hard for a writer to write about a person who is under-employed, in difficult circumstances, and yet admirable. I think it's very sad that whenever poor people living in America are put on the screen, we always seem to end up portraying them as assholes in some way, or maybe even pathetic.

    I think it goes along with the whole criminilazation of poverty in America. Most everyone you see in these shows is far wealtheir than the average American. Once you go below a certain level of income, you are either inviisible, or a jerk.

    Ignorance more frequently begets confidence then knowledge. Charles Darwin

    by martianexpatriate on Mon Jan 20, 2014 at 05:47:06 PM PST

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