There is something about ‘Girls’ the new HBO comedy from Executive Producer Judd Apatow and created/writer/star Lena Durham that doesn’t appeal on first viewing. I am not afraid to say that I didn’t like ‘Girls’ after a first saw it. It was weird, it was indulgent and it was kind of grossly sexist. Who were these ‘Girls’ to let the men in their lives treat them this way. For something that was praised as the new ‘Sex and the City’ these women certainly weren’t the sexually adventurous strong empowered women I was expecting. They were easily manipulated self obsessed girls who don’t know what they want or how to take care of themselves.
My original reaction to ‘Girls’ was disgust, how dare this show disgrace the women of my generation with this depiction. I am 24 the same age as the ‘Girls’ and am far more together and self possessed than any of them and so is everyone else I know. But the more I watched and the more honestly I thought about myself and the girls I know, the more I thought, crap, I may not like it but this girl probably is voice of her generation, my generation.
Many critics have reacted quite viciously to ‘Girls’ saying that it is indulgent, the characters are unlikable and that the all white cast demonstrates an underlying racism. Which is all true, except for the racism which I think is just case of a writer, writing what they know. Is it more or less racist to create characters of a different race just to fill a race quota? But moving on from that, while these criticisms are correct what people are missing, in fact what I missed first up, is that Lena Durham is not saying that these characters are great role models or even worthwhile human beings, she is just calling it like she sees it.
She is showing us characters that are realistic to her vision of the world and the more I look at her vision the more I am convinced that it is pretty accurate. The way that Hannah lets Adam treat her is very similar to the way I let my first boyfriends treat me. The way that Marnie tries to control her life and her boyfriend who she really has no feelings for also reminds me of me. In fact what all these characters remind me of is the stupid things that would be adults do when they are trying to be grown ups.
The minute that you turn 18 you are supposed to be an adult but unfortunately very few of us are there yet and given that many of us live at home for longer, the real push into adulthood tends to come a lot later. Usually when we move out. Girls is all about this push and the bad choices people make the first time they do anything. Like your first real love, your first housemate, your first real job, your first time and just generally trying to escape from narcissistic adolescence into becoming the person you are meant to be. You are bound to make mistakes and they aren’t going to be the pretty sanitized mistakes of “Friends” or other commercial TV universes they are going to be dirty, ridiculous and mentally unstable. I didn’t want to see it at first but I made many of these mistakes myself.
‘Girls’ gives us all of this and more allowing us to see the unlikeable narcissistic fools, that lets face it we all were once, behaving badly and learning lessons and making more mistakes, while at the same time being utterly hilarious. ‘Girls’ is something new and something real, though you may not like what you see, you know you recognise it. Does ‘Girls’ live up to the hype, your damn right it does.