In case you haven't been on the Internet in the past month, there's this series on HBO that began last week. It's called Girls, and it's about a 24-year-old who takes her super-smart, super-nice parents for granted because they're getting in the way of her dreams of becoming "a voice of a generation" by cutting her off after two years of support. It's also about the strange concept of extended youth that our society has created with low entry-level pay, or none at all thanks to the existence and growing necessity of internships. It's also about upper middle-class white girls living in Brooklyn, complaining about boys, having dinner parties, showering together and generally attempting to sort out their lives.
Some people find this plot banal, which seems fair enough -- that's often the case with stories that ignore racial and economic diversity. Others find it maddening. Still others find it to be an eerie anthem for their existence. Regardless of their stance, people are talking about Girls. For the convenience of those thinking about joining in on the conversation, I've created a template for op-eds about Lena Dunham's new show:
Establish credibility. You are totally qualified to write about this topic because you are just another person making a self-deprecating joke about the fact that you are just another writer who lives in Brooklyn. Or you're a girl. Or you know a girl.
Insert some sort of thinly veiled rant about how your parents didn't pay for your education, let alone your rent for two years after college, and look at you now. You're not working at McDonald's (but you would if you had to) or having unprotected anal sex with a self-indulgent jerk (who, by the way, has bad hair). No, not you. You are a hard-working, self-made blogger. And this show does not accurately depict the lives of hard-working, self-made bloggers. And for some reason, that's not okay.
But okay, there are aspects of Hannah and her friends' lives that are carbon copies of your own experiences. Like the flirty, idealistic world traveller chick offering naive advice.
And the coworker who is valued for her command of Photoshop. And the discussions of social networking hierarchies. And the likable yet unhelpful employer.
And that self-indulgent jerk you were sleeping with for a few months (the one with the bad hair).
But that's beside the point! The point being that Girls, a show based on Lena Dunham's own experiences as an entitled twentysomething attempting and expecting to live up to her parents' success, is not based in reality. Reality being a place where young, spoiled adults do not pocket the $20 tip their parents left for the cleaning lady because they are so desperate to maintain their self-centered, artistic lifestyles. Reality being a place where we love to hate our flatly moral television characters.
Note that while the pilot was a complex commentary on the state of American youth (we're dishearteningly selfish yet also articulate and kind, and that's confusing!), the show is not doomed. Hopefully future episodes will show us more clearly which characters are good people and which characters are bad people, so we won't have to deal with the headache of accepting dualities.
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