HBO’s Girls is one of those “lightning rod” shows – loved by some, criticized by others. Described as the millenial generation’s rebuttal to Sex and the City, it revolves around Lena Dunham’s character Hannah Horvath, a 23-year-old cupcake-loving recent college literature grad living in New York with ongoing employment issues and a history of not-so-healthy relationships, including her current one with an oddly aloof actor-turned-carpenter.
The show, nominated for five Emmys last year (winning one), and two Golden Globes this year (winning both), is in its second season, and is heralded for its frank and remarkably honest portrayal of modern 20-something young women and its rough-around-the-edges characters. Its score of 87 on Metacritic (an aggregator of film and television reviews) indicates “universal acclaim.”
A particularly lucid review came from The Hollywood Reporter, who said the show conveys:
“real female friendships, the angst of emerging adulthood, nuanced relationships, sexuality, self-esteem, body image, intimacy in a tech-savvy world that promotes distance, the bloodlust of surviving New York on very little money and the modern parenting of entitled children, among many other things—all laced together with humor and poignancy.”
However, the show is not without its detractors. A columnist for Gawker described it as:
“a television program about the children of wealthy famous people and sh*tty music and Facebook and how hard it is to know who you are and Thought Catalog and sexually transmitted diseases and the exhaustion of ceaselessly dramatizing your own life while posing as someone who understands the fundamental emptiness and narcissism of that very self-dramatization.”
Of course, being a funny names blogger, I couldn’t help but admire the names of her co-stars, who shine in their roles as alliteratively-named characters:
- Lena Dunham as Hannah Horvath, the series’ protagonist
- Zosia Mamet (daughter of legendary playwright David Mamet) as Shoshanna Shapiro, an innocent and socially awkward NYU student
- Jemima Kirke as Jessa Johansson, Shoshanna’s cousin, who is an unchained bohemian and world traveler
- The boringly named Allison Williams as Marnie Michaels, Hannah’s very responsible best friend, with a steady job and steady (but passionless) relationship
Perhaps partly due to those names, I side with the majority in calling it an excellent series. Dunham’s decision to participate in several nude scenes despite her slightly overweight, non-idealized figure has been the subject of constant discussion, with some calling her a modern feminist icon while leaving others – perhaps unused to seeing “imperfect” female forms in the buff on the silver screen – very critical and uncomfortable. While many love the realism of the show, others dislike characters that remind them of the “spoiled” and “entitled” youngsters they frown upon. Whatever their opinion, people are talking – often a good indicator of a groundbreaking series.
The irony is that 26-year-old Dunham (the daughter of two artists) is anything but the unmotivated, confused character she portrays. Previously known as the director of 2010’s Tiny Furniture, Dunham is the creator of Girls, and her job duties include directing, writing, starring in the show, and making me feel like the most unproductive 26-year-old this side of Topeka.
Oh, and in case you’re looking for another reason to watch: Hannah’s ex-boyfriend appears in a recurring role portrayed by none other than…
Woohoo! Off to watch more episodes of HBO’s Girls. (I wish… that would be the best Monday morning ever!)