Why I Watch a Show Called “Girls,” and Why You Should Too
My name is Ned, and it’s time for me to come clean about a certain guilty pleasure of mine.
For the past few weeks, Sunday nights have held a kind of dark allure for me. At 9:59 p.m., after finishing my homework, I sneak downstairs to the basement to participate in an activity that some would call “shocking,” “strange,” and “kind of weird, Ned.”
With the lights off, I quietly sit down on the couch, grab the television remote, and hit the “ON” button. As the screen flickers to life, I frantically punch two digits on the remote control: nine and zero. Suddenly, the room is filled with the comforting sound of white noise. On the screen, the letters “HBO” appear. I know I’m in a safe place.
For the next 30 minutes, I sit on the couch and watch a show called Girls, which is about a group of girls living in New York City whose friends are girls and whose problems are, as the saying goes, “girl problems.”
This is unusual, I know. Many would argue that such a show is obviously being catered to, well, girls, and that no male of any age should ever have the opportunity to watch it. I agree wholeheartedly — and that’s what makes watching Girls feel all the more satisfying.
I initially stumbled upon Girls accidentally. Having finished an episode of Game of Thrones (another incredible show on HBO that you should totally watch, but that’s another story) that ended with a stunning cliffhanger, I found myself lacking the physical energy necessary to reach for the remote so as to turn off the television. As I sat on the couch, the series premiere of Girls began.
They had me from the first scene. Girls is written by, directed by, and starring a female named Lena Dunham, who is 26 years-old. What makes Girls so remarkably funny is the fact that it is completely self-deprecating. The show revolves around a subset of humor that essentially makes fun of your typical 20-something-artsy-college-grad-who-lives-in-Brooklyn-and-drinks-tea-and-eats-yogurt-and-writes-poetry-and-has-love-life-problems. If what you just read makes no sense to you whatsoever, then Girls is probably not for you. It is the anti-Sex and the City; there’s sex, and there’s a city, but it is far from glamorous.
Please allow me to explain the first scene. As Lena Dunham’s character Hannah Horvath (one of the aforementioned 20-somethings who, we learn, has been in an unpaid internship for the past four years) is out to dinner with her parents at a fancy restaurant in New York City, she is told that they will no longer be supporting her financially. After the initial shock subsides, the camera pans to show Hannah shoveling obscene quantities of food and wine into her mouth in an attempt to mooch off of her parents one last time. The camera swings around to show her embarrassed parents looking around the restaurant sheepishly. Smash cut to a title card that reads “GIRLS.”
At this point, I am in hysterics. Dunham has stated that Girls is inspired by and loosely based upon her life as a post-college city-dweller, and it certainly shows. Girls is funny, yes, but it also feels remarkably real in its cringeworthy, regretted-tattoo-filled self-deprecation. And like many fantastic HBO shows (see: Curb Your Enthusiasm), Girls capitalizes on being highly predictable. One can tell, from the beginning of each episode, what kind of awkward catastrophe will happen to Hannah that evening. Somehow, though, Girls still manages to surprise me and keep me interested. Lena Dunham is a certifiable comedic genius, and if the fact that HBO just ordered a second season is any indication, Girls is going to be around for quite a while. I just hope it’s still hipster and ironic to watch it next year.