I don’t read TV criticism because I don’t care what Girls says about feminism or about how Girls is changing the perception of… whatever. All I care about is—is it good or bad?
It’s good. Great, even. But that doesn’t mean I don’t spend half my time hating it.
First, the good. It’s incredibly original, beautifully filmed, darkly comedic, and real in a way I don’t think I’ve ever seen on TV. I like all of the main characters. I leave every episode wanting more.
But I doubt that Lena Dunham is a “genius” or a “prodigy” like I’ve seen in all the headlines. The show in fact reeks of inexperience, of wisdom that is not as beyond its years as it thinks, which she backs up with a hearty dose of this generation’s trademark self-congratulation.
Lena is just one very talented rich girl with one very narrow point of view, who claims, hiding behind a veil of irony, to be “the voice of [our] generation.”
The problem with most rich kids I know is that they’ll never admit or acknowledge they’re rich, or that it somehow affects their viewpoint. When, on this show, characters habitually “cover” two months of rent on a nice, two bedroom, New York City apartment without batting an eye, that’s a rich point of view. That’s easily $5,000 of “whoops!” money. When Hannah pisses and moans about working an hour or two at a coffee shop, that’s a rich point of view. A lot of this “trying to find who I am” stuff isn’t so much generational as it the plight of the privileged.
If Lena Dunham wants to speak for all the well-off, white, writer-type rich girls in New York, that’s fine, but her pretending to speak for all white 20-somethings is at best annoying, and at worst infuriating.
It’s not entirely her fault—she’s being encouraged to think this way. Executive Producer Judd Apatow is a rich guy who throws parties for rich people and makes movies about rich people. It’s no surprise he sees something in Lena. But because he produced Freaks and Geeks, he thinks he can add a dose of Midwesternism. But the show only made sense when, like in Tiny Furniture, Lena’s character was a rich girl from New York.
In the episode co-written by Judd, she “goes home” to Michigan. Nothing about Hannah, nothing about going home and fucking the pharmacist, nothing about never having to work a day in your life suggests Lena or Judd knows anything about being middle class or of having grown up in a conservative culture.
The show falters when it oversteps its bounds and tries to be something it is not. If you’re gonna write what you know, at least know what it is you know.
Yes, there are other irksome aspects—the nepotism in the cast…
…the sudden character 180 of Adam (who goes from aggressively jerking off in front of Hannah)…
…to being a big pussy…
…but these don’t irritate me as much. These are typical TV problems.
Girls is a great show with a first season full of rookie mistakes (ending on a wedding? What is this, Whitney?) But it is nonetheless great, and Season Two should be a blast.
That’s my two cents in the billion-dollar empire that is Girls criticism.