I’ve been enthralled with the media backlash surrounding HBO’s much-hyped new series, Girls, which just aired its fourth episode. The show, recently renewed for a second season, follows four (rather spoiled) twenty-somethings in the murky professionalism and personal lives of post-college existence. It started off as a bit of a tedious exercise in establishing privileged youth as an un-contemptible and relatable group of protagonists. In the first episode, Hannah, the primary protagonist, portrayed by series creator and writer Lena Dunham, is cut off financially by her parents. At 24, her parents are through supporting her New York quasi-hipster lifestyle, and, in the series pilot, force her to either demand pay from her unglamorous internship or find something with a real salary.
The show’s received an absurd amount of criticism from all sorts of sources, emphasizing the show’s lack of cast diversity, its narcissism and its niche-y plots – who cares about the plights of privileged white girls other than privileged white girls? While I can certainly understand the criticism, I also appreciate Dunham’s defense; she writes what she knows, and, frankly, this is what she knows. More than that, I find the show incredibly sincere. While the characters lament their sexual fever dreams and their continued unemployment, they’re frank, humorous and flawed.
The fourth episode, “Hannah’s Diary,” really sold me on the show. In one particular scene (link above, too frustrated to embed), Hannah asserts herself to her casual (and often retch-worthy) boyfriend-ish, Adam, and, in an unsuccessful attempt to end the relationship, she tells him what she wants. I have rewatched this particular scene no less than 12 times in the last three days; Dunham managed to capture precisely what I wished to say to my murky beau, The Teacher’s Pet, in the throes of a complicated week, and her touching and delicate performance really sold me on the agony her character felt. The last line, paired with a trembling lip and a tearful intonation, nearly bowled me over –
“I really care about you, and I don’t want to anymore because it feels too shitty for me.”
I don’t want to go too much into the particulars of my situation, but I like to think this performance inspired me, in even the most tenuous of ways, to demand more, and, truly, avoid the same sort of resolution Hannah finds at the conclusion of the clip. That sort of pained and earnest emotion is exceptionally trying, and I think Dunham played it so well. I think this show is really finding its stride and warrants, at the very least, a chance, criticism aside.