Clearly on an emotional high from her Golden Globe wins, Lena Dunham, Creator/Writer/Director/Star of the HBO series Girls, recently gave an interview in which she dismissed criticism of her show as coming mostly from 58-year-old men who didn't understand -- and I'm paraphrasing and reading between the lines -- the show's new-generation originality and youthful exuberance.
That's odd considering that Vulture reported that the show's single largest audience, 22 percent, is "white dudes over 50." In fact, 56 percent of the show's audience is male. Some say it's because of the frequent nudity and graphic sex. That doesn't hurt. But the main reason to watch Girls is because the show obviously is struggling to be a voice of its generation, just as The Catcher in the Rye, Go Tell It on the Mountain, The Naked and the Dead, On the Road, Beloved, Generation X, The Joy Luck Club, Slaves of New York, Less Than Zero, and Bright Lights, Big City were voices of their generations.
Girls wants to tell us something important about twentysomething females of the 21st Century. And, as the elders of our society, we should always be listening to those new voices crying out.
But what are they telling us?
1. Their world is mostly white.
Last season the show was criticized for being too white. Watching a full season could leave a viewer snow blind. This season that white ghetto was breached by a black character who is introduced as some jungle fever lover, with just enough screen time to have sex and mutter a couple of lines about wanting more of a relationship. A black dildo would have sufficed and cost less.
I don't believe that people of color, sexual preference, or gender need to be shaken indiscriminately into every series like some sort of exotic seasoning. If the story calls for a black character, great. A story about a black neighborhood doesn't necessarily need white characters just to balance the racial profile. But this really seemed like an effort was made to add some color -- and it came across as forced.
2. They like to talk about (and sometimes engage in) sex.
It's like a checklist of being naughty: masturbation (check), sex during period (check), oral sex (check), anal sex (check), virginity (check), etc. The show is actually at its most engaging during these awkward, fumbling, and mostly embarrassing (for the characters) scenes. The characters talk boldly about sex, but their actions are often shy and unsatisfying. The contrast of the generation that's been taught that pretty much anything goes sexually trying to act cool while struggling with their vulnerabilities is generally fresh and original and insightful about this generation.
3. They're too self-conscious, too cutesy, and not that funny.
We're supposed to find these girls somehow charming because of their flawed characters. Their intense self-involvement is meant to be cute and it can be... at times. But not enough to overcome our impatience with their inability to have any personal insight. They're all educated but fatally ignorant.
This isn't all Girls fault. It's unfair to put so much of a burden on what is basically a standard sitcom. Some of the fault lies with the audience's desperation for a generational voice that they turn to a sitcom to express it rather than great literature. Filmmaker and short story writer (and Dunham fan) Miranda July is more accurately a voice of a generation adrift in the rough waters of Great Expectations and a Great Recession.
When it takes itself seriously is when it stumbles. I just wish it would express its seriousness by being funnier. Seinfeld made it a point to ridicule the characters' shallowness and self-involvement, raising it to a level of social commentary. And it was funny. Two other girl-centric shows that reached these same heights to be voices of a generation were My So-Called Life and Wonderfalls. Both funny, yet also insightful and original. Perhaps that's why they both only lasted one season before becoming cult hits. Girls, a safer more mousy voice, has already been renewed for a third season.
4. The guys are more interesting than the girls.
Adam, Hannah's (Lena Dunham) abrasive boyfriend, is a wonderful character whose quirkiness never diminished his depth of character. The episode in which he performs in the one-man show is brilliant. Charlie, Marnie's ex-boyfriend, is a complex mix of too stable and too nice. The fact that he's dumped by a girl who is actually more boring and shallow than she claims he is, makes for some excellent social commentary, although that seems like an accidental byproduct. Could it be that Dunham actually is better at writing guy characters than girl characters?
Girls' heart and mind is in the right place. It wants to be more than the sum of its familiar parts. And sometimes it is. Maybe this season its voice will be louder and clearer and have more to say. It's worth listening for.
Kim Kardashian did some Christmas shopping with fiance Kanye West and her mom Kris Jenner at Barneys New York in Beverly Hills, Calif. on Dec. 11.
Miranda Kerr braved the New York cold by herself on Dec. 11.
Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum filmed scenes on the beach for "22 Jump Street" in Puerto Rico on Dec. 11.
LeAnn Rimes posed in the press room during the American Country Awards 2013 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center on in Las Vegas on Dec. 10.
Rita Ora posed for a photo shoot on the back seat of a Chrysler convertible on the streets of Miami on Dec. 10.
Josh Duhamel was spotted taking pictures of the perfect Christmas tree on his red Moto X in Los Angeles on Dec. 10.
Jay Z hung out at Hollywood's Lure Nightclub for his concert after party on Dec. 9.
Tom Hanks, Emma Thompson, Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke attended the U.S. premiere of Disney's "Saving Mr. Banks," the untold story of how the classic film "Mary Poppins" made it to the screen, at the Walt Disney Studios on Dec. 9.
Reese Witherspoon and her husband Jim Toth went shopping together at APC in Paris, France on Dec. 9.
Lady Gaga looked all dolled up as she left the Langham Hotel in London, England on Dec. 9.
Amy Adams, Christian Bale, Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper and Jeremy Renner attend the "American Hustle" cast photocall at Crosby Street Hotel on Dec. 8 in New York City.
Josh Duhamel and Fergie at the 15th Annual Trevor Project Benefit at the Hollywood Paladium in Hollywood, Calif., on Dec. 8.
"Top Chef" host Padma Lakshmi soaked up the sun in a bright orange bikini on Miami Beach, Fla., on Dec. 8.
Rose McGowan rocked a printed one-piece on the beach in Miami on Dec. 7.
Amanda Bynes headed to outpatient rehab with her mom on Dec. 6 in L.A.
Adrian Grenier soaked up the sun on the beach in Miami on Dec. 6.
Lady Gaga left The Langham Hotel in London, England, on Dec. 6 looking like a Picasso painting.
Anne Hathaway and husband Adam Shulman were spotted running errands in L.A. together on Dec. 6.
Demi Lovato totally rocked it at Nylon magazine's December issue party at Stage One in West Hollywood on Dec. 5.
Victoria's Secret model Jessica Hart posed on the beach for a photo shoot on Dec. 5 in Miami, Florida.
Lindsay Lohan rocked an awesome black one-piece as she hung out with her brother and friends poolside in Miami, Dec. 5.
Jessica Simpson left her NYC hotel on Dec. 5 stylish as ever in high boots and a tiny dress.
Malin Akerman hit the tennis courts to film scenes for her show "Trophy Wife" on Dec. 5 in Los Angeles.
Gerard Butler shared a laugh with some friends in Miami on Dec. 5.
Jennifer Lopez filmed scenes for her new movie "The Boy Next Door" in Chinatown, L.A., on Dec. 4.
Gwen Stefani and growing baby bump did some holiday shopping at Bloomingdales in Los Angeles, Calif. on Dec. 4.
Lady Gaga dressed as a life-size Mona Lisa painting in London on Dec. 4.
Rachel Bilson hits T.J.Maxx in West Hollywood, Calif., this holiday season for designer gifts on Dec. 4.
Julianne Hough looked stunning at Boohoo.com's VIP viewing party for Beyonce's Mrs. Carter World Tour in L.A. on Dec. 3, sporting a brand new, longer 'do with bangs!
Kourtney Kardashian and Scott Disick, in matching monochrome attire, touched down at LAX on Dec. 3.
Reese Witherspoon was all smiles as she got in a morning workout at Burn 60 gym in Brentwood, Calif. on Dec. 3.
Ben Stiller was honored with a hand and footprint ceremony at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood on Dec. 3.
Liv Tyler launched her etiquette book, "Modern Manners," on Dec. 3 with Veuve Clicquot champagne at the Stella McCartney flagship store in Soho, NYC.
Pregnant Olivia Wilde left her pilates class after a morning workout on Dec. 2 in Los Angeles, Calif.
Cameron Diaz and Jamie Foxx performed a song and dance with the cast of 'Annie' while filming a parade scene in New York City on Dec. 2.
Kirstie Alley stopped by ABC Studios to appear on "Good Morning America" in New York City, New York on Dec. 2.
Rashida Jones and Amy Poehler attended the IFP Gotham Awards sponsored by euphoria Calvin Klein on Dec. 2.
Tiffani Thiessen stopped by Marshalls in West Hollywood for some holiday shopping on Dec. 2.
Marion Cotillard attended a dinner hosted by Dior during the 13th Marrakech International Film Festival on Dec. 1 in Marrakech, Morocco.
Dakota Johnson spotted on the first day of filming for the book adapted movie "Fifty Shades Of Grey" on Dec., 1 in Vancouver, Canada.
Ben Affleck was the perfect gentleman as he opened the car door for his wife, Jennifer Garner, following a coffee run Nov. 29.
A pregnant Gwen Stefani arrived at her folks' place on Nov. 28 for Thanksgiving dinner, accompanied by her husband Gavin Rossdale, her two boys and her adorable pup.
Ooh la la! Diane Kruger and Joshua Jackson went down to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, for Thanksgiving weekend. On Nov. 26, Kruger was spotted wearing a bandeau bikini by the pool. Lucky couple!
Megan Fox's baby bump was showing on a trip to the doctor's office in Beverly Hills on Nov. 26.
Jennifer Love Hewitt gave birth to a baby girl on Nov. 26 after secretly tying the knot with her boyfriend and the father of her child, Brian Hallisay. Congrats!!
Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, met Taylor Swift at Kensington Palace for the Centrepoint Winter Whites Gala on Nov. 26.
Celine Dion signed autographs and waved for fans as she left her hotel to go to rehearsal in Paris, France on Nov. 26.
Casually gorgeous! Jennifer Lopez was seen on the set of her new movie "The Boy Next Door" filming at Monterey Park in Los Angeles on Nov. 26.
Adrienne Bailon struck a pose at the launch of her custom Sparkle Louder cocktail recipe for HPNOTIQ liqueur on Nov. 26.
Chloe Grace Moretz kissed her costar Jamie Blackley as they filmed a scene together for their movie "If I Stay" on Nov. 25 in Vancouver, Canada.
Kim Kardashian and Kanye West spotted leaving a radio station in New York City on Nov. 25.