A lot of articles have already been written about HBO's new comedy series Girls, many of which have been right here on The Huffington Post. I've heard the criticism and the praise, and not to sound too craven, but I agree with points from both sides.
Just like Hannah Horvath (played by the show's creator, Lena Dunham) I too am a post-college 24-year-old girl living in a big city (LA) who aspires to have a creative career. I understand how difficult it can be to try and pursue a career in "the arts" while also being able to pay the bills. My parents, very graciously, help me with my tremendous student loan re-payment every month, and if I'm really struggling with money from time to time they're more than willing to throw some extra cash my way. That being said, they haven't entirely supported me financially since I was in college. I have been able to hold several steady jobs since graduating two years ago, which has allowed me to pay for my own rent, bills, and car insurance. I will admit that I am still on the family cell phone plan, but as Hannah points out, "it's cheaper for everyone," right?
My point is that life is exponentially easier when you don't have to worry about finding a job because you need the money. It appears that Hannah's best friend Marnie (Allison Williams) receives quite a large sum of her income from her parents, and where does Jessa (Jemima Kirke) get enough money to go gallivanting across the world so often? I doubt it comes from baby-sitting. These girls are, without a doubt, spoiled rotten. They seem to have had a very cushy upbringing and very little to worry about financially their entire lives. I'm glad that the series focuses on Hannah getting a reality check by finally being cut off her from her parents. I think it's easier for most young women to relate to that, rather than to living in an expensive New York City apartment and having a comfortable lifestyle that's completely funded by Mom and Dad.
One recent article about Girls by Abra Deering Norton on sheknows.com points out the vast monoculturalism of the show. I feel somewhat naïve for not noticing it before because it is quite apparent. Most episodes could be summed up with a simple hash tag of #whitegirlproblems. Not to say that women of color who are also college grads in their early-to-mid 20s, living in a large city would not experience many of these same issues and challenges, because naturally they would. But you wouldn't know that by watching Girls. It just seems like maybe we should be seeing a broader representation of our sex, because after all the show is titled Girls, not White Girls. Even if we're sticking to the mid-20s, upper-middle-class background, higher education graduate demographic, I'd like to hear from a few African American, Latina, and Asian young women who fit in that category.
Lena Dunham actually responded to the criticism about the show lacking racial diversity in a recent NPR interview, saying,
"I wrote the first season primarily by myself, and I co-wrote a few episodes. But I am a half-Jew, half-WASP, and I wrote two Jews and two WASPs. Something I wanted to avoid was tokenism in casting. ... I really wrote the show from a gut-level place, and each character was a piece of me or based on someone close to me. And only later did I realize that it was four white girls. ... I did write something that was super-specific to my experience, and I always want to avoid rendering an experience I can't speak to accurately."
This makes a lot of sense to me. Dunham created, writes, directs and stars in the show. It is her experiences and her life represented on screen. She doesn't want to misrepresent someone else's experiences, or use token casting as she says, just for the sake of making the show more diverse. But the series is still young and I do think it would be interesting to see some collaborative writing with women of color for a more truthful representation of diversity in the show's future episodes.
These points aside, when it comes down to it, I do personally relate to a lot of aspects on this show. I've discussed it with several of my friends and we all agree that the relationships the girls have with each other, and to some extent with the opposite sex, is very true to our own experiences. I've heard guys who watch the series ask, "Do girls really talk about sex that much?" Yes, yes we do. In fact, it's probably one of the most frequent topics of conversation I have with my girlfriends. But it's not just talking about sex, it's about discussing human relationships, too. It is my experience that when girls talk to each other they are much less inhibited than when guys talk to each other. Girls are able to let down their guard more easily, be honest, and seek advice from one another because it creates a bond between us and helps us realize that we're not alone in what we're going through.
There's a scene where Shoshanna (Zosiah Mamet) reveals to Hannah that she's a virgin, and Hannah in turn reveals that she has recently contracted HPV. Even though both girls are self-conscious about these confessions, once they've shared them they easily give each other advice without judgment and provide reassurance that everything will be okay. Every time I've had a problem, whether it be sexual, emotional, or otherwise, I talk to my closest girlfriends about it with no shame, and it's always guaranteed that I'll feel better afterwards. This is definitely something that Girls got right. In the stress of the post-college life and trying to "figure it all out," the friendships among women make it possible to get through.
Girls may not be realistic on the whole, and I agree lacks in certain areas, but I will keep watching every week, and I know without a doubt that I'll be entertained.
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