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Why I’ll Be Watching “Girls”

January 8, 2011

HBO has officially picked up a new series called Girls, which will be written and produced by Lena Dunham (who will also star in it) and produced by Judd Appatow. If the name doesn’t ring a bell, Lena Dunham had quite the year last year in the indie scene as the 24 year-old who wrote, directed, and starred in her own semi-autobiographical, mostly-critically-acclaimed movie, Tiny Furniture. I saw the movie, and while it mostly left me underwhelmed, I’m eagerly anticipating Girls.

The show follows the lives of a group of girls in their early twenties living in New York. The “Sex and the City for the younger set” comparisons are already rolling in and, admittedly, that’s part of the appeal. I will always be a defender of SATC, even after the second movie, and still consider it my favorite show. Even though I didn’t start watching it until after it ended, and even though I’m just now getting to the part of my life where I actually relate to its content (even though I’m still fifteen years younger than the characters), I always felt extremely connected to the show and was still able to connect it to my own life. When I heard about Girls, I realized that part of my excitement was that it has been a very long time since I’ve found a show that presents young women as being something other than bumbling airheads, especially not one that I felt personally connected to. Really, I can only think of two shows that ever did, Sex and the City being one of them … Daria being the other (and that’s my personality, in a nutshell). While there were bits and pieces of Ugly Betty (R.I.P) that made me feel the same way, it’s been way too long since there has been a show on that gives an accurate portrayal of being a young woman these days. That is, at least, of what it’s like to be my kind of young woman. (The Laguna Beach and Jersey Shore girls can take a seat in the back for a little while.) Just this snippet of description gives me hope:

The 24-year-old prodigy Dunham wrote, directed and starred in the pilot, about the assorted humiliations and rare triumphs of three girlfriends in their early 20s: Hannah (Dunham), an eternal intern at a publishing house in SoHo and a hopeful writer; Marnie (Allison Williams), a sexy, bitchy and ambitious assistant at a slick political PR firm whose goal id to practice environmental law; and Jessa (Jemima Kirke), a space cadet with hippie tendencies who wants to be an artist/educator.

While I know I can’t speak for everyone, these archetypes seem like a great choice for a more realistic representation of my generation. I feel like I already know these characters, and I wouldn’t be surprised if I can see myself in each of them. Although, let’s be serious, I already know that I’ll be a Hannah.

Even though Dunham and Appatow seem like a strange duo to carry the project, I have faith that they’ll be able to pull it off. I may have felt that Tiny Furniture was, as a whole, lacking, but I didn’t walk away feeling entirely disappointed. There were still many poignant moments throughout the film that hit home for me because they were so accurate and (at times) uncomfortably honest. Dunham isn’t afraid to embrace all aspects of being a young woman, even the parts that made you squirm in your seat a little. I don’t think that Girls will fall prey to the easy way out of representing “women in their twenties in the city,” which is to lay on the cheese and exaggeration and suspension of belief. I don’t think they will be flat characters, and I think it will be hard to watch an episode without recognizing some part of yourself on the screen.

And although I may have made a Stank Face at my computer when I read that Appatow, the king of bro-culture, was involved in what I’m assuming will be a show with a feminist slant to it, I’m very intrigued to see how his influence will affect the show. I’m hoping that his lowbrow-with-a-heart M.O will keep the show grounded, and from slipping too far away into Indie Darling territory, as I felt Tiny Furniture sometimes did. It wouldn’t hurt if it had some of his sense of humor too, because while I knew there were times that Furniture was supposed to be funny, I don’t think I actually laughed out loud once. Besides, I really don’t think I could stand a mumblecore series, and since I think that’s the opinion of the general population, I’d also like this series to have a shot in hell of success.

All in all, it sounds like an especially intriguing endeavor, and I’m excited to see what the final result will be and if it will live at all up to my expectations. I desperately tried to find the pilot online, but my twenty-something-ability-to-find-anything-I-want-online-for-free failed me miserably. Hopefully we’ll be getting some sneak peeks soon.






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