Yesterday, Season Two of HBO's beloved anti-Sex and the City Lena Dunham vehicle Girls premiered.
The media is somewhat torn over the show. The Los Angeles Times described it as "hard to love," while The Hollywood Reporter called it a "brilliant gem." There was original backlash then backlash to the backlash then backlash to that, and it all started up again a few weeks ago with HBO's Season Two advertizing blitz. Hannah (Dunham's character) was back and "almost getting it together."
I will freely admit, I came a little late to the Girls party. I received the first season for Christmas this year and watched the entire thing in one sitting. Prior to my firsthand knowledge of the show, I only had what I read and what friends told me. Mostly, friends told me that I, me personally, would adore the show as it was basically about my friends and me in our twenties when we lived, like the characters on the show, in Brooklyn. I too was a confused wannabe artist twentysomething at one point in life and this show would totally speak to me.
I can't say that Girls is not incredibly entertaining; it's funny and easy enough to spend seven hours watching it straight through on your laptop, but relatable? I don't think so. There have been many "glitches" pointed out about this show that make it polarizing to average audiences.
The first argument is that it's about a bunch of rich trust fund kids who have no concept of what life is really like. This is certainly true of the show and at times comically so. The first episode of the show, Hannah's parents stop floating her ride, so she goes through a series of odd jobs and eventually winds up at a coffee shop. This is embarrassingly unreal. Have you seen her apartment? There is no way she could afford her rent on a barista's wages. The characters are not uncomfortable talking about their parents' indefinite life loan and this makes the fact that they are getting money from their parents "okay," by the show's standards. "Hey, we told you that our characters were trust fund kids, so why are you getting all mad about it?" That type of argument.
The fact that they are trust fund kids doesn't bother me, as the plethora of real trust fund kids I knew in my twenties didn't bother me either (sort of). The thing is, real rich kids never talk about the fact that mommy pays their bills, and that's where the show hits one of its many unrealistic points.
The other big complaint about the show is the lack of diversity; this too, I am okay with. The show has an intended audience and there is no denying that audience is white. The girls live in a white bread world of gentrification. They hang out with white people; it is what it is -- total racial hipster segregation.
But none of this is what bothered me so much about Girls after I binge-watched the show. What bothers me is that these girls are a bunch of assholes.
Dunham's Hannah has been described as completely self-centered, narcissistic and "flawed." I understand the point of the show and why Dunham has created her character as such, but I don't understand why that has to be.
There are plenty of flawed and confused women out there; we are all flawed and misguided at times, in fact, but we are not all shitheads. And it's not just Dunham's character that is a bad person, all of the girls are. All of them are completely vapid people, people that I would never want to spend any time with.
I don't want to come off as being blind to the point of the show; I know what it's about, but that doesn't mean I have to like it. And there is a larger issue at hand. Girls has been touted as a revolutionary step for women in the media -- the sex is really awkward, Dunham is the "voice of her generation," she is not model thin and she's naked all the time, like a real person! She's so real! Except she's not because real women aren't all a bunch of bitches.
There has been a glorious trend in the past few years of women dominating television. It's amazing that the ladies have taken over the small screen. This is not just in comedy (where the argument persists that there's too many women and they are not funny), but the majority of dramas also star women. Big actresses have a chance to play complicated and crazy women because of this trend. But here's where my problem lies. Why are all women on television either self-absorbed wenches or drug addict nurses/bipolar CIA officers/un-feeling detectives/crazy "fill in the blank."
Aren't there any normal, just slightly messed up women out there who are interesting enough to warrant having a television show written about them? Why do we (the ladies) have to be portrayed as self-centered or psychopathic to be laden with drama? Life is drama in and of itself; can't there be a women-centric television program about someone, I don't know, normal?
There are plenty of TV shows that star men and they aren't crazy people. They are real men; some of them are even nice dudes. Think about the show Bones; he's a regular old guy; she's a frigid witch. Don Draper may be complicated, but he's not a dick; he's just an adulterer. How about FX's Sons of Anarchy? This killer bike gang should be a group of repulsive people, yet they are not written as such. They seem like pretty good guys that you'd want to hang out with and drink Miller Lites.
Dunham had a rare opportunity to show real women being real and she opted to turn her alter ego and sub-characters into caricatures of what women actually are.
I'm sure Season Two of Girls will feature just as much "real sex" and "flawed" situations, but I hope they actually do something genuine and show a woman who acts like the ones that I know -- caring, smart and warm yet still complicated enough to be the center of a good story. Unless we are all a bunch of twats and I just don't realize it, which is possible.