When all anyone under the age of 35 could talk about was HBO’s debut season of Girls I decided to give it a shot. I was late to the game like I am on most TV shows, but thanks to HBO On Demand I found I could plow through the season quickly enough to still get into the conversation about the cultural phenomenon.
My plan worked pretty well until it came to a grinding halt during episode 4. Honestly, I should have known from the start I was fated to hate the show. Here’s why:
1) Girls reminds me just how irresponsible most twentysomethings living in New York City are.
I’m not perfect by any means. I’ve had my budget problems. I’ve gone out and had too much to drink in the city’s bars. I’ve been in some bad relationships and some so-so ones that I let go on way past their expiration date. I’ve spent the weekend scrounging around my kitchen cupboard for odds and ends because I was too lazy and/or broke to go to the grocery store for real food. However, there’s a big difference between harmless selfishness and the vast fucked up behavior of the majority of the Girls characters.
Hannah, Lena Dunham’s character, is essential a large child. She is sexually immature (don’t hold that against her), self-hates and obsesses over her relationship with the horrible Adam while ignoring all advice from her friends, is incapable of maintaining a professional demeanor even during an interview for a job she desperately needs, and generally stumbles through life like a complete dolt. I’m a long-time reader of romance novels. There is something in the genre called a TSTL heroine — that is a Too Stupid to Live woman who bumbles her way into forehead smackingly dumb situations. That, my friends, is Hannah.
Poor Marnie is beautiful and clueless. She’s stuck in an absurd relationship with a boy (not a man) she doesn’t respect. She even explains at one point that his mere touch skieves her out. She’s also a complete headcase as we find out in the second episode. Jessa doesn’t show up to her own abortion appointment (the one funny moment in the 4 episodes I slogged through), and Marnie turns the whole debacle into a neurotic rant about why she’s destined to be a mother. I was left asking myself, “Who cares?” because there is never any doubt that pretty Marnie is going to make out okay.
Jessa is far and away the one most interesting character in the show. In fact, she is almost redeeming enough make me want to stay with Girls. Almost. Jemima Kirke is both lovely in a true Bohemian way. Jessa has an interesting back story that’s simultaneously mysterious and perhaps a little sinister. She also has the best quote in the episodes I watched — “All adventurous woman do.”
2) I can’t stand the Brooklyn hipster lifestyle.
If I meet you at a party and you tell me that you’ve been working on a book of essays for years, I’m going to ask you what else you do. Yes, I’m crass enough to wonder how you’re making a living while writing the next great American novel. If you tell me you’re a 25-year-old unpaid intern who doesn’t wait tables, I’m going to wonder how your parents feel about footing the bill for your rent, groceries, utilities and “discretionary spending.” If you’re getting an all-expenses paid pass to live in NYC, good for you. That’s incredibly generous of your family. Own it. I could care less if you’re getting help, but please, please, please have something to show for it by the time your parents pull the financial plug.
I have a great deal of respect for Bohemians. There is something beautiful and charming about the idea of living for your art. However, watching self-destructive people waste away their lives while proclaiming that they are really deep, interesting people is of little interest to me. There nothing more boring than a person who has to remind you they are interesting. As far as I can tell, no one on this show except Jessa has anything remotely intriguing about them. Hannah is a train wreck waiting to happen, and Marnie is simply biding her time until… well, I don’t really know what because neither does she.
3) There are too many people I know living this life.
I tried to watch back-to-back episodes of Girls to move my viewing along, but I found the experience completely claustrophobic. I know too many people like these women. The experience of having not nearly enough money in NYC is the story of most twentysomethings’ lives. Why on earth would I want to watch that during my few hours of free time?
I sit in a news station with the TV on 9 hours a day. It is part of my job to have that flat screen next to my desk tuned into something all the time. The last thing I want to do when I come home is watch a dramaedy featuring annoying, adolescent characters complain about how badly they’ve messed up their lives. If I wanted to do that I’d go off to some NYU bar and hang out with the undergrads.
I realize that I’ve missed the point of Girls. I appreciate Dunham’s sharp writing. I really, really want to root for this show. I want to say that this bit of HBO programming defines the experience of women in my generation. I want to like it. The problem is, I can’t get past the 4th episode.
I think it’s time that I officially break up with Girls.