I did it. I broke down and watched ‘Girls’.
Instead of catching up on emails, putting boxes in the storage unit, vacuuming my office, or doing anything else productive, I sat through 11 episodes of the critically acclaimed show brought to us by the wack-a-doo mind that is Lena Dunham.
Why did I do this? I could have vacuumed and that would have been a more productive suck of time and energy. I could have gone through the other 75 shows currently sitting in my queue, but instead I sat through a show about white girl problems.
All because I hated Lena Dunham.
I’ve hated her since she started showing up on the scene. I don’t care how talented you are. I don’t care if you continue to put out amazing work and get nominated for something every year. When you are invited to big events, you put on a cute dress, bring a date, smile for the camera, graciously answer questions, and thank the little people that got you there.
When Lena goes to events, she is ‘better than it all’ dressing in unflattering outfits, smiling weirdly, and makes us stare at her awkward tattoos. I’m sure she’s a lovely girl, but speaking from the Awards Circuit, I haven’t been a big fan of hers.
I have almost the opposite problem that others do when it comes to Award Shows. Some people feel that when a front runner wins and runs up and is flattered (see: Taylor Swift) people jump up and yell, “Don’t act surprised! You knew it was coming!” I believe that if you receive a major award, it doesn’t matter if you are expected to win, go up, accept the award, cry a little, thank your mom and your fans, and act flattered and surprised.
Watching Lena Dunham at the Golden Globes win her award, I was convinced. Her speech was typed out so she wouldn’t forget anyone. She was hurried, enough to get it all in because she knew she wasn’t going to have the music held for her, and she knew that this was her moment, and that her work was finally being recognized and I respected that.
So, I decided to watch the show. One episode turned into two, then next thing I knew, I had already watched the entire season 1 and was making my way through the premiere of the second season. I literally spent an entire day watching a show about white girl problems. I literally went on a bender, complete with online ordered Pizza Hut. I don’t really see that it should have been another way.
Now, unless you’ve lived under a rock, you know what the complaints of this show are: hipster bullshit, trite, no PoC, etc. I can tell you all of this is true. But, what else do you expect from a show that showcases a life of a 20-something Michigan transplant living in Brooklyn trying to make it as a writer?
The thing that struck me about this show is how unlikable everyone in the show is. Every single person in this show is flawed. Each person has their flaws so transparent, you don’t want to be their friends or boyfriends. Lena Dunham’s character is the culprit of most of the unlikability, since she is the lead character. Her hatred towards herself and her self-serving tendencies put her at odds with almost everyone around her and for whatever reason it works.
Lena Dunham has probably gone where no one has gone before: Into the mind of a 20-something artist who doesn’t know anything except how to have fun and that she doesn’t want to fail. That sounds like the concept of every art opening, every hipster song and every essay on Thought Catalog. She talks about the things we talk about but we don’t talk about that we talk about it.
Plenty of sex, drugs and indie rock and roll is found in this show, and it is nothing new to those of us who live it. For those haters who have “lived this life back when” the characters seem whiny and over-privileged, remembering that this is a fictional show may help ease the wound, but knowing that this is the society of the newly graduated working class. (That is a topic discussed in episode 9). For those of us who live this life and wonder what our lives would look like on a reality show, this is it.
It talks about the problems of our generation: dating with Facebook, working an unpaid internship hoping that it will turn into a paying job, dealing with bosses with the “Old World” mentality, lack of free wifi. Yes, many of these are white girl problems, but these are our problems. These are the lives we lead.
Personally, I can name people in real life that embody each character. We all know the girl still obsessed with SatC years later, and the party girl who has done it all, and the uptight I-need-a-boyfriend-to-be-happy friend.
Is it easy to hate? Yes.
Is it easy to love? Yes.
Is Lena Dunham one of the strongest voices of our generation? So far, I’d say yes. She is saying what everyone else says behind closed doors and is not afraid to put herself on the line to do it. I wish I had the balls to do it myself.
Which leads the question, which character am I?
I’ll never tell.