I’ve been waiting for HBO’s new comedy Girls for quite some time now. It’s created by, written by, directed by and stars Lena Dunham, who’s famous for her small indie film Tiny Furniture as well as for being rather funny on Twitter. And thankfully, after watching the series premiere last night, I wasn’t disappointed.
Girls is, well, about girls. It’s already often been compared to Sex and the City, but it’s younger, poorer and more harshly realistic. It also acknowledges the similarities in the pilot, by cleverly reminding us that there are still girls who identify themselves strictly by which of the four characters on SATC they really are. “I’m totally a Carrie at heart, but sometimes Samantha comes out.” This is, unfortunately, a thing people say.
Unfortunate. It’s a word that can describe a lot of what happens in the Girls pilot, and I mean that as an absolute compliment. Lena Dunham isn’t afraid to make any of the characters, especially her leading role, unlikable. You can tell that this show will be good, becauseher character is already quite rich and complex.
Dunham plays Hannah, a twenty-four year old wannabe writer who lives in Manhattan on her parents’ dime. She’s been working at an unpaid internship for over a year and she’s writing a book. She’s a little heavy and has low self-esteem. She can be spoiled, a bit egotistical. She is part of the YouTube generation, those of us who have blogs because we think we have worthwhile things to say even though no one really reads them.
Hannah finds out that her parents are no longer willing to pave her way in New York (though, really Mom From Freaks and Geeks, you could have given her a little notice) and the first episode centers mostly around that. The publishing house where Hannah interns won’t pay her, so she needs to find a job. Or she needs to get her parents to continue to support her.
Hannah has bad sex with a douchey hipster f— buddy who never answers her texts, because it’s the only thing she thinks will make her feel better. She gets high on opium tea and tells her parents she thinks she’s the voice of her generation…or a voice of a generation, because even when high she realizes how arrogant the first one sounds. And through all this, her character still remains likable enough that you want to root for her. You want her to figure it out.
Not all twenty-somethings are as lost as Hannah, and I think we’ll see some of that from her friends. The pilot is mostly about establishing Hannah as a character, but I feel confident that her friends will be more fully developed as the series goes on.
Hannah’s best friend Marnie seems to have her head on a little straighter, as she tries to tell Hannah that the reasonable argument to make to her parents is to ask them to support her a little longer while she looks for a paying job. What we know of Marnie is that she’s gotten to a point where she can’t even stand the touch of her too-perfect boyfriend, but she can’t break up with him either because there’s nothing really wrong with him and he loves her so much. It’s a familiar dilemma and I think it offers a different portrayal of the issues a twenty-something might face in case the #whitegirlproblem of “my parents will no longer support my hipster New York lifestyle” isn’t something you relate to.
Hannah’s insufferable, pretentiously worldly friend Jessa tells her that her parents should understand that she’s an artist. We don’t get to know Shoshanna very much, other than she’s a bit high-strung. Like I said, these characters need to be developed but I’m sure that will happen throughout the course of a few episodes.
Like I said, one of the strengths of this series is that it isn’t afraid to show someone in a bad light – the episode ends with Hannah taking not only $20 that her parents left for her in a hotel room, but the $20 they left for housekeeping as well. I’m really intrigued to see how this will move forward. The revelation that Jessa is pregnant seems like it will be a big arc, and from what I’ve read it that storyline should help viewers determine if they’re the right audience for this show or not.
While I don’t think the pilot for Girls was particularly laugh-out-loud funny, I thought it was well-written and constructed, with characters that interest me. I’ll be sticking around. What did you guys think?