NO RECENT TV moment has gotten more cultural attention than the opening of HBO's "Girls"--in which aspiring memoirist Hannah Horvath, shoveling noodles into her mouth, is told by her parents that they're cutting her off. "You graduated from college two years ago, we've been supporting you for two years, and that's enough," her mother declares, and Hannah's wounded hangdog look morphs into outrage: "Do you know how crazy the economy is right now?" she says. "I mean, all my friends get help from their parents." When "Girls" premiered, the general response to that exchange was a resounding cry of recognition. An NPR reviewer pointed to it as the moment when he "fell in love" with the show. The clip was shown by a presenter at a recent Stanford conference called "Promoting Positive Development in the Third Decade of Life."
"Girls" is part portrait and part send-up of a particular type: relatively privileged, newly ejected from the liberal arts bubble, armed with an expectation that the world will react to their quest for fulfillment with appreciative patience. And one reason the show struck such a chord was surely that its real-life inspiration is everywhere right now. A steady stream of articles and books is constantly reminding us that today's young people, the recession's unlucky children, are experiencing their twenties as an unprecedented period of paralyzing limbo.