First off, I'm not one of those power tool/football-obsessed sexist Neanderthals who prefers action films to movies starring women. Just so you know.
Nevertheless, when my wife warned me that "Sex and the City: The Movie" was a chick flick, and that watching it would make me instantly nauseous, I should have listened to her. But there was nothing else on TV except an old episode of "House Hunters International: Tierra del Fuego," which I'd already seen, so when she bought the film on pay-per-view for $4.99, I decided to give it a shot.
Somehow, I managed to sit through the first 20 minutes of this crime against humanity before deciding that I could not endure 90 more minutes of spoiled, shallow women obsessing over closet space and expensive shoes while chatting endlessly in mindless double entendres about sex and a clueless dolt named Big.
After I'd had enough, I walked off to do something more intellectually satisfying -- folding my socks -- while wondering idly what it is about this dreck that even intelligent women find so captivating. (My wife called it "fluff" but didn't get up once to go the bathroom.)
Same thing happened with "Eat, Pray, Love" when it debuted on pay-per-view, only this time I'd been forewarned by all my female friends that it was "Eat, Pray, Snore" for men, and that 10 minutes of it would land me in the ICU's terminal coma ward. I couldn't afford the co-pay, so this time I hid in my den and played 20 intensely competitive games of computer solitaire while my wife and her pals watched it.
As I heard them sniffling in the next room, I decided that hiding in the den was probably the best strategy in cases like this.
So it came as something of a surprise when, one night, my daughter switched on HBO's new series "Girls." After trying unsuccessfully to get her to change the channel to something more captivating, such as "Desperate Housewives of Tulsa," I found myself getting totally wrapped up in it.
Confession: I ended up watching every episode and was forlorn after the season finale. (Okay, maybe not forlorn, but eager to tune in next year.)
Set in New York City, "Girls" (produced by Judd Apatow) is about a group of 20-somethings (mostly girls, duh) and the trials and tribulations they encounter as they struggle for self-awareness. They have love affairs with guys who are in the same boat; they pout, whine, drink, smoke grass, obsess, trade barbs, soul search and occasionally have vicious arguments. And yes, sometimes they talk about girl things. (I left the room for a snack during five minutes devoted to discussing menstrual cycles -- even I have my limits.)
My daughter is 20-something. I'm way beyond that demographic, but I'm admittedly gripped by nostalgia much of the time and I went through some trials and tribulations of my own when I was 20-something and living in the Big Apple.
But there's more to it than that.
For one thing, I find the characters engaging. They're all well-drawn and quirky in different ways. Watching them struggle both humorously and emotionally in their quests to find themselves is sort of engrossing. The fact that the main characters are mostly female is, at least in this case, largely irrelevant. People are people.
Hannah, the lead character, is played by Lena Dunham (writer, director and creator of the show.) Hannah's funny, serious, insecure, bashful, broke and totally lost. She wants to be a writer, but botched her first short story reading. Her roommate Marnie, played by Allison Williams (Brian Williams' daughter) is aloof, uptight and priggish. Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet, daughter of the playwright) is the naïve virgin, a little too old to still chatter in modern teenage slang. Then there's the impulsive and completely captivating Jessa (Jemma Kirke), a sassy, ballsy pseudo-Brit, who is also hopelessly perplexed about her true identity but manages to conceal it beneath a veil of cocky banter.
It's an ensemble cast, so I won't go into a detailed line-up. But the writing and acting are superlative; the dialogue is crisp, funny and penetrating; and the plotting is loose, but clever and absorbing. (Some have criticized the show for not including minorities, but efforts to rectify that are reportedly underway.)
Lena Dunham is a smart, young lady with an insightful perspective on the foibles of her generation.
Thankfully she's not that interested in closets and shoes.
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