It was never hard to understand why “Girls” was such a success. It’s a concoction of great writing, good acting and bad sex. All of this added up to six seasons and an 89% score on Rotten Tomatoes.
Before I ever watched “Girls,” I was already made aware of Lena Dunham’s constant flukes. There was the time she wrote about touching her sister which led to a firestorm of child abuse accusations and think pieces. Then there was the time she admitted to lying in order to discredit an alleged rape allegation against Murray Miller, a writer and producer for “Girls.” There’s also her natural aura of privilege that makes the air around her reek. All of this made me avoid the show like the plague.
Then something pretty similar to a plague hit and like most, I’m stuck inside. It was the discovery that Adam Driver played a major character in “Girls” that led me to finally sit down and watch it. In films like “Marriage Story” and “The Report,” Driver’s acting is strong and engaging which encouraged me to finally check out “Girls.”
The girls of the show are Hannah Horvath played by Dunham, Marnie Micheals played by Allison Williams, Jessa Johansson played by Jemima Kirke, and Shoshanna Shapiro played by Zosia Mamet. Marnie is the anal best friend who seems to have a grip on their life but actually does not. Jessa is the attractive vixen who’s too busy being sexy to be a good friend. Shoshanna is the innocent, impressionable kind one whose character growth can only stem from her relationships with men.
Then there’s Hannah, the radically cool girl whose supposed freedom with her body is meant to be revolutionary. The writers couldn’t make it any more clear that Hannah is meant to hate her body for its slight pudge, but because she doesn’t we should be filled with awe. Her character is pretty terrible most of the time, but that was the goal.
“Girls” is asserted as a show where major life f – – – ups are okay. It’s meant to show us the duality and multitude of women — an ode to the real-life difficulties most young girls face. But how can the show claim to represent girls when so many of us were left out?
People of color have a meager existence in the world of “Girls.” Black men exist for sex and one-off relationships that allot their white partners a feeling of righteousness. Japanese women exist as comic relief and as a guide for white women who have no clue how real life works. Please note that “Girls” is progressive enough to have a black woman as well— albeit relegated to the role of offering direction to the confused heroine. None of them stick around, all being shown for no more than a couple episodes.
The first few seasons are full of your favorite pop songs from the mid-2000s. Stacked against that are job changes, recreational drug use, sex, gay parents, big breakups, little breakups, sex and dancing.
In the last two seasons, the stakes become a lot higher. The girls suddenly realize that having a stable job is actually important. That healthy relationships, platonic and otherwise, are cornerstones to a fulfilling adulthood.
In season five, Hannah and her mother Loreen played by Becky Ann Baker take a weekend trip to a spa. The trip is meant to make Loreen feel better after discovering that her best friend, who is also her husband, is gay. During lunch, Loreen and Hannah sit at a table with affluent women (who just so happen to be white) as they all have an honest conversation about some of the struggles they face as adults. The next few minutes are pretty representative of the show. Women with little to no self-awareness complaining.
This is not a hot take. Anyone can Google the show and find a slew of reviews that all mention the same keywords: privilege and sex.
There’s a lot to say about “Girls.” There were moments that I wished horrible things wouldn’t happen to Hannah only because I knew that the next set of episodes would be dedicated to Hannah victimizing herself. That any political and socially important moment on the show feels performative (watch out for season six episode three). That the show is so full of entitlement, at times it feels completely unrealistic. As a black woman, I literally couldn’t fathom half of that stuff happening.
But the acting is good. “Girls” carries its gross moments well, making them bearable enough to keep going. Plus, the show is shot in New York City which is always nice to look at. And at times the show is genuinely funny.
Since you’re quarantined and there’s nothing better to do, watch “Girls” on HBO, Hulu or Amazon Prime.