…and the quest to see everything

Archive for June 10, 2012

Seminal Television: “Girls”


I first heard about Girls from Barbara Walters on The View of all places, talking about the controversial second episode and its frank sexual content – my sister walked into me while I was watching that. Later that month Ryan McNeil discussed it at a function we were both in, telling me and three other people about how nihilistic it is – I know. Then Spin’s Chandler Levack tweeted about the scene when Elijah (Andrew Rannells) comes out to the show’s protagonist Hannah (Lena Dunham) as well as how Dunham’s split second reactions to it.

From I thought ‘eyeroll into tears’ is humanly impossible and acting marvels make me say ‘I have to see this now.’

Watching that scene now, I though it was not what I expected – I thought the lighting, the setting and the writing would be more bittersweet but it,s nastier than that in a good way. That John Ford shot countershot between them just makes Dunham look like shit. Dunham makes herself seem unattractive and cartoony (her voice particularly fits this description). Hannah is kind of like in a Georgy Girl situation where the person in lead is the best friend type who we feel sorry for because the worst things happen to her.

It’s about sex and messed up, foul-mouthed girls who look too good to say ‘like’ a lot and secretly – or not so secretly – attracted to the rapey stuff spewed by the men around them. How fucking liberating. What Marnie (Allison Williams) tells Hanna in the fourth episode, that ‘you’re smarter than this’ is a mantra that young women and gay men tell each other, as we in our twenties can’t possible learn how not to make sex-based mistakes while getting our BA’s. Although some audiences who can’t relate to the show in a cultural sense will take the step back and call these characters stupid and just turn off their TVs.

I’m not sure if I’m in the place to do that – I know that the dialogue can make a case for the show not being rooted in reality. It’s sort of that trend now in television when characters are sexually sadistic or masochistic and say words like ‘asshole’ and that’s supposed to be funny (in this sense the actors serve the writing as opposed to the writing showcasing them). I thank or blame Tina Fey and Jane Krakowski of 30 Rock for proliferating that trend, or maybe it’s because I saw it in 30 Rock first that makes me prefer that singular tone that I like hearing stays on that one specific show. I’m just cautious when I hear that kind of humour, no matter how fun it might sound.

One thing that does strike me as real is the middle class women walking around a city getting dirtier and dirtier by the day, the latter being just the way I like it. I resent having to do the comparison but I don’t remember Sex and the City dressing down New York and its women like that. I don’t really have the lifestyle to follow television but in many accounts, this show passes for honesty and bravery and vulnerability, and I didn’t waste my time watching these girls.