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Ruth Fowler Headshot

Girls: Please Reach Puberty

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The thing which no one seems willing to say about Girls is that it's shit.

Yeah, I've read everything else. It's not representative. True. It's about whiny, rich, white girls. True. All the actresses are related to famous people. True. People don't relate to the girls and their problems. True.

We all know if the show was good, no one would be complaining.

Sure, it's not representative. People of color have, I daresay, gotten pretty used to mainstream cable channels feeding TV audiences a diet of never-ending white women and their insipid complaints: from Sex and the City, to The L Word, to Desperate Housewives, to Gossip Girl. Doesn't mean it's correct or it's right, but let's just go out on a limb here and say that these shows didn't get the same complaints because they managed to be modestly entertaining consumer pieces of crap, in a way that allowed folks to overlook the skin color of the onscreen characters, or at least not to feel overtly slighted by it. The racism of TV and film is a big fucking problem, and it's great that Girls has stirred up a mainstream debate about it. That's about the only positive and redeeming quality I could find about this navel-gazing, turgid half-hour of hell. Having exclusively white characters onscreen is hardly unique or original -- it's merely that the talentless writer/director/actress of Girls manages to bludgeon her audience with white privilege in a way which makes Ann Coulter seem almost fucking polite.

In the hands of a skillful writer, a 24-year-old white female character who's never paid rent in her life could come across as a complex, challenging, insightful, hilarious, comedic human being. Note the use of the word "could." I'm being optimistic here, so that whatever twat at HBO commissioned this can bleat a pathetic excuse, and plaintively point at the inspiring, hilarious five-page treatment which held so much promise 18 months ago when they signed the deal over lavender infused vodka shots at SoHo House L.A. That Hannah instead appears as simply annoying and vacuous is testimony to the fact that the person who wrote the character, played the character, and directed the character, has the skills of a used tampon. "Nepotism" is not a word that is shrieked loudly when the spawn of the famous are breathtakingly talented.

It's probably not just that HBO commissioned a dud. Though they certainly did that, buying into that perpetual ageist American myth of youth that plagues every goddamn creative industry in this country. Gone is the time when privilege in and of itself is entertaining.

Since 2008, the middle classes have felt the same pinch that the poor have suffered for decades, and it's changed them. I daresay Girls might -- although I doubt it, given that it's shit -- have been warmly received 10 years ago, but the recession has managed to politicize an apathetic white middle class, so that it's not just radical lefties and people of color who are now wondering where the brown and black people are on our screens. And they're not wondering because they want to be politically correct and they're worried Elenah who sits across from them in the publishing office might feel left out. They're wondering because they don't live in a white fucking world like Girls.

Yes, racial segregation does still happen in our society. As a white girl who grew up in Wales, went to school with approximately 1,000 other white kids and about four people of color, I know that whites do tend to hang out with whites when there are no other folks around to interact with. Particularly if, like me, you grew up in the boonies of Great Britain, and escaped only to go to an extremely privileged, predominantly white, upper-class university. But racial segregation is not something I saw or experienced in New York, where I lived for three years. I do not have an exclusively white friendship circle here in Los Angeles, despite working in the brown-tonguing, vile Hollywood film industry, and coming from the white, educated middle class that's meant to be portrayed on Girls, where people of color appear fleetingly as stereotypical, clichéd cameos.

Having said all that, this show's so bad it's bound to be an unmitigated success. Even I can't wait for 'Episode Two,' when Hannah learns how to file taxes, has a brief, enlightening moment when a (light-skinned) black woman dressed sluttily says something typically cheery and New York-like in a ghetto accent (perhaps 'Holla' or 'Hey girl'), just as Hannah nearly slips into white, middle class despair because she cracked the screen on her iPad. Perhaps we'll have a cameo from a brown person, probably one who can't speak English and works in the service industry, a bit like the people who used to clean Lena Dunham's home while she was ensconced in private school learning how to make a career out of being mediocre. And maybe, if we're lucky, they'll throw a token Asian in there too. Wearing glasses. Good at computers. Like they are. All of them.

God fucking help this industry and all the assholes who work in it. Which probably doesn't include me any more, after this article. Oh well.

Around the Web

The Creator of HBO's 'Girls' Shares Her Reading Habits - NYTimes ...

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HBO's 'Girls' Is the Best New TV Show of 2012 - The Daily Beast