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.
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!