I have very confused feelings about Girls

21 Jun

Almost a week after the finale, and I’m still not sure of my feelings about Girls on HBO.

Despite the world’s love for Girls, I’m on the fence. I tuned in every week. I looked forward to watching it. But every time I’ve watched, my end reaction has been “Huh…” This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Clearly there’s a reason I watched it every week. In honor of the upcoming “Girlsathon,” I thought I would try to figure out what made it a hit, where it went wrong, and share all of my thoughts on my new favorite actress Allison Williams.

The first thing Girls has going for it is the accuracy of its title

As far as I can tell, Girls is television’s newest darling. Everyone on Twitter (where I get the majority of my news and opinions) raves about it, including many comedians I like. The zillions of celebrities I follow complain about how they have to wait to watch it on the West Coast. The three non-famous people I follow talk about how right-on Hannah is. Everyone seems to agree that the show is “real.”

For those who haven’t seen the show, here’s a brief summary: it is four girls in their mid-twenties living in New York, dealing with problems like non-committal boyfriends, overly committed boyfriends and not having a boyfriend. Hannah is the main character, portrayed by Lena Dunham, who also created and writes for the show. She previously created the movie Tiny Furniture, which is apparently very similar in theme to Girls.

Stewie on Family Guy once said that you should give criticism like a sandwich – a compliment followed by a critique balanced out by another compliment. I’m going to live by that rule, because if there is advice you should follow, it’s definitely Family Guy‘s.

Compliment: Girls is hilarious. The dead-pan delivery of Jessa, the earnestness of Shoshanna, the recent bitterness of Marnie and the lack of self-awareness of Hannah all work together to create memorable lines and moments. Since Girls prides itself on its realism, I do have to admit that there are moments that are painfully familiar. Marnie looking through pictures of her ex-boyfriend with his new girlfriend on Facebook is something I’m sure many young adults today have experienced. There is something very truthful about Jessa’s free-spirit with the subtle tones of confusion and lack of identity. Shoshanna’s awkwardness is almost painful because of how much you empathize with her. I do know people like Hannah, ready to take on the world but too scared to do so.

This show has been compared to Sex & the City because of the 4 girls in New York, and while I would call Sex & the City more fun, Girls is definitely a show that hits closer to home and that is easier to relate to. The girls have roommates, worry about money, take public transportation and they do not have a pun for every situation. They also fight. Not like in Sex & the City where Charlotte won’t lend Carrie thousands of dollars to buy her house (what was up with that, Carrie, Charlotte isn’t your bank!!!) but over when the rent gets paid and lack of sympathy and mean things written in Hannah’s journal. Sorry, her notebook. Who among us hasn’t had some of the same conversations with our parents that Hannah suffered through when she visited home? If my phone vibrates while I’m watching a movie with my parents, suddenly all eyes are on me waiting to see what I’ll do and you can see the wheels turning in their minds as to whether they’re going to have to give me another lecture about technology etiquette.

Critique: Hannah is incredibly unlikable. Some may claim that she is supposed to be unlikable, that she is so real and intriguing because of her flaws and that people really are like that. Sure, there are people really like that, but I would never be friends with them or choose to learn more about their lives. She is self-centered and egotistical and is always fishing for praise. Her semi-boyfriend, Adam, is also unlikable. He has been nicer to Hannah lately (does anyone remember how much of a jerk he was in the beginning? What a user he was? Apparently he’s been redeemed or something I guess) but he is still incredibly rude to Marnie, whose apartment he is invading and being disgustingly shirtless in. Also, FYI, nudity does not make things more “real.” It just makes me highly uncomfortable when it’s added to literally every other scene.

The nicer guy, Charlie, somehow became the bad guy for “caring too much.” Basically my problems can be boiled down to the fact that I like the people I don’t think I’m supposed to really like and I despise the characters I’m supposed to be rooting for. I will say that several of Hannah’s negative qualities, such as always steering the conversation towards herself, might be particularly grating to me because they are things I am worried about doing in my own life. Like Hannah, I also do not like other people being successful. So again, points for realism.

Compliment: Allison Williams. She plays Marnie and if I really had to pinpoint why I kept watching, it was her. She plays the straight man and still manages to sneak in funny moments. That’s a hard role to have. It’s easy to be the wacky one and have the fun scenes. It’s much rarer for the voice of reason to also be the funniest character. Outside of the show, she has already had a prolific career… online. She wrote and starred in a series of Funny or Die videos as Kate Middleton, where she was both convincingly British and absolutely ridiculous. She was the female lead in a funny YouTube series where her boyfriend somehow wasn’t attracted to her. I watched the whole series at 2 a.m. one night and I consider it time well spent. Allison covered Tik Tok in a manner similar to Alanis Morissette’s cover of My Humps. What she is perhaps best known for, however, is her rendition of the Mad Men theme song. If you’ve ever seen Mad Men then you recognize the problem with that sentence – the song has no words!

I hope that Marnie gets more screen-time so that Allison can show off her comedic chops and endear herself further to the audience. Her scenes remain some of my favorites of the season. The following clip I actually uploaded myself because it’s my favorite example of how funny and sweet Marnie can be. It shows how she accidentally got high in college and met Charlie. Please don’t make me take it down, HBO, you should have uploaded it yourselves! I’m trying to help.

Regardless of who your favorite character is, will you be tuning into the Girlsathon? How excited are you for the next season? Do you hate me for not liking Adam? Come talk to me on Twitter!

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9 Responses to “I have very confused feelings about Girls”

  1. Rachelle Stein-Wotten June 21, 2012 at 7:05 pm #

    I just started watching this show (still have a couple episodes left). Before I started, I figured it was just Sex and the City with 20-somethings, but it’s actually way funnier than SATC. I think I just like how honestly stupid they all are. None of them have any clue about relationships, careers, etc.!

    • Emily June 21, 2012 at 7:09 pm #

      Sex & the City is mindless fun, but Girls is funny in a relatable way! Definitely very different shows, and each have their own strengths I think. I guess The Carrie Diaries will be Sex & the City with 20 somethings!

      • Rachelle Stein-Wotten June 21, 2012 at 7:36 pm #

        I like that Girls isn’t as melodramatic as Sex and the City. The Carrie Diaries could be amazing though!

      • Emily June 21, 2012 at 7:39 pm #

        I’m hoping it is, though I read a few of the books and thought they made Carrie a little unlikable! I loved how she wound up meeting Samantha though, cool to see the origins.

  2. kjewls June 23, 2012 at 3:51 pm #

    I loved this article! Ever since I’ve started watching Girls, I’ve been on the hunt for insightful analyzes of it, and this one was by far the most comprehensive (and fun) one that I’ve found.

    Girls is definitely one of those shows that took awhile for me to warm to. The first two or episodes, I watched the entire half hour sort of slack jawed, not really understanding what all the fuss was about. The show just seemed like it was trying to hard to be “real” and “quirky.”

    But somewhere around the third episode, I was 100% sold. I think it was about the time Hannah accused her gay ex boyfriend of giving her HPV, and he totally went off on her, in this unbelievably on-point and hilarious way. The dialogue on this show is just really funny, in a smart way. And I think the series has a lot to say about what it’s like to be a single educated “young” adult, who doesn’t quite have it all figured out yet.

    You are right, Hanna herself, is a tough character to like, most of the time. In fact, at least once every episode, I cringe at something she does or says . . . like the time her diary broke up Marnie’s relationship, and all she wanted to talk about was whether or not Marnie thought ot was well written . . . or the time she inexplicably tried to have sex with her 50-something year old boss . . . or the time she stole the hotel tip money her parents paid the maid.

    But I think all of us can be a bit despicable sometimes, when we really look at ourselves. And besides, I feel like, like you, I don’t really watch the show for Hanna, but for it’s supporting cast, which I relate to so much more. I adore Shoshanah, Ray, and Elijah. And I can relate to Marnie, so much more than I’d like to admit.

    In short, I think Girls is just a fun way to spend a half hour. And I’m defintely looking forward to next season.

    • Emily June 23, 2012 at 4:32 pm #

      Thank you so much for this amazing comment! I agree with basically everything, very cool to hear your thoughts.

      The dialogue is amazing, I think that’s definitely a reason I watch. That journal scene though, sheesh, That’s about the exact time I decided I was done trying to like Hannah and I needed to focus on the other aspects of the show. I definitely enjoyed the show more once I wasn’t trying to force myself to like the main character. I could appreciate the parts that do make it great.

      Definitely well stated in that we can be like that… It’s hard to watch sometimes!

      It will be interesting to see what they keep and what they change when the new season starts… I’m looking forward to it as well 🙂

  3. Janet Mackenzie Smith June 25, 2012 at 9:26 pm #

    Check out my Dear John Letter for Lena Dunham: http://janetmackenziesmith.com/2012/06/14/dear-john-letter-for-lena-dunham/

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. And the Em-y goes to… « Here Are Things I Like - July 19, 2012

    […] a delightful surprise and often winds up being much funnier than anything else happening. When I discussed my feelings about the show, I named Allison Williams as the main reason I continue watching. Looking slightly to the right is […]

  2. 5 Hilarious Cover Songs (That Also Sound Good) « Here Are Things I Like - September 17, 2012

    […] out there was thinking “Tik Tok really speaks to my soul.” Allison definitely has a flair for humor though, and her almost smirk and occasional hand gestures sell the whole […]

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