I am not James Franco, obviously. The only similarity I have to the characters on Girls is I'm a writer/journalist, but I'm not struggling. I can say that I've definitely been there (jobless, aimless), and I have many friends at the moment who're trying to find their "correct" career path.
This, to me, is one of many things Girls does right: it accurately portrays that phase in life when you're stuck in between school and career. You kinda sorta know what you want to do for a living, but don't have the first clue how to get there. You feel a compelling urge to have sex with everyone, but don't have the first clue how to a) approach it or b) stop yourself when you know it's wrong. Suddenly, you have to make money and support yourself, and no one taught you how in school. Whether you're a girl or a guy, it's the same horrible limbo, a place with no rules and no set destination.
What's genius about Lena Dunham's approach in Girls is how she taps into each potential mindset: the more virginal viewers can identify with hopelessly shy Shoshanna, the wild things see themselves in Jessa, the buttoned-down people in relationships know what it's like to be Marnie, and the in-the-wind lost souls find their figurehead in Hannah. While yes, these women live in a very dysfunctional, chaotic world, and most people probably shouldn't look up to them, it's far better to identify with girls like these than the insipid flakes that populate shows like Gossip Girl. Your average guy would never want to watch Gossip Girl, but they may just want to tune in to Girls.
Why? As simple as it sounds, it's real -- on multiple levels. I personally know iterations of each girl on this show -- especially Hannah, the hilarious, creative, yet socially hopeless woman without a clue about what to do with herself. She's an everygirl. It's also refreshing that these people don't all congregate in some ridiculous apartment (ahem, Friends) that they could never feasibly afford, and we don't see them rolling in money or lusting after handbags (as seen on the #1 guy repellent, Sex And The City).
No matter if you're XX or XY, we've all been where these girls are. Dealing with a couple that's been together for too long, who then have a nasty breakup; parents who love you one minute and want to cut the cord the next; trying to cope with your significant other's annoying friend; going from job to job without finding any satisfaction. And people might want to act like the sex on the show is "out there," but I'll be the first to admit that it's hopelessly real. Sex can be wonderful, sure, but it can also suck. Most of the time, it's awkward and strange. Dan Savage said it best when I spoke to him earlier this year:
"Sex is crazy and unique. We all look ridiculous in pursuit of it, we all look ridiculous doing it, and we all feel ridiculous five minutes after we're done, and we should all be able to laugh about it to help keep it in perspective."
I would say Girls does this in spades.
Dunham also hits the nail on the head with her male characters. I agree with Franco when he says they're all losers, but man, do I ever know several guys like these characters. The weirdo with bizarre sexual proclivities, the hanger-on friend who you want to kill, the uberhipster in a bowler hat and the wussy sap who does his girlfriend's bidding (I seriously once knew a guy who tied his girlfriend's shoelaces for her). Yeah, I'd never want to be them, but these types of guys exist. And I'm just as baffled at the female characters who find them attractive. You can never predict who'll dig someone else. It's all up in the air, but hey, that's life.
And that goes for TV shows, too, doesn't it? Appeal transcends gender. Guys can like Girls just as girls can like Top Gear. In the case of Girls, I appreciate it as a perfectly depicted slice-of-life, and if it can completely time-warp me back to a period in my life when everything was undecided and volatile, then it's done its job.
Perhaps the best aspect of Girls is it provides a window for guys to look through, to better understand the thought processes of women in relationships, and to see how their own potential douchebaggery might be interpreted by the women in their lives. Looking at it that way, Girls actually provides society a service, and we should all be thanking Dunham for pointing out that yep, all of us are a little fucked up.
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