The problem with GIRLS.

Another episode of HBO’s GIRLS, another stream of vitriolic hate online. Who would guess a half hour non-violent, relatively benign programme could garner such hateful feedback. Maybe what’s making us squirm so much is GIRLS is a little too realistic in its portrayal of Gen Y. Gen Y being equal parts shit, shambles and shenanigans, just like the show. Yup, this just got personal.

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The interesting thing about GIRLS haters is that they’re very non-specific in their ALL CAPS RAGE. Take Lena Dunham’s frequent nudity- no one is able to quite say why this bothers them so much. A lot of non-committal noise is made about it being gratuitous or distracting, because saying that she’s not conventionally sexy is not very PC, and that says more about hater’s character, than Lena Dunham’s.

Nobody shits tweet shaped bricks when Game of Throne’s Emilia Clarke (Khaleesi) frequently gets naked, but her body is generally considered a divine gift to mankind. Isn’t it strange that a vision of normality like Lena Dunham is crucified, while unattainable and unrealistic perfection like Emilia Clarke’s goes without remark? #feministalert

Similarly, the relationships portrayed in GIRLS are far from fairy tale. Hannah’s occasional lover Adam is cringe worthy in his callousness with Hannah’s feelings and body. What is more cringe worthy however is Hannah’s willingness to accept this treatment. She doesn’t feel that she deserves better.

            “Hannah with Adam- what message does an unhealthy relationship like that send #HBO_GIRLS” Someone I pity followed on Twitter.

             “If I wanted to watch people complain about their life, I would turn over to Kardashians and watch pretty people do it” Girl from my year 11 history class on Facebook.

GIRLS isn’t a moralistic programme that intends to empower young people, its a satire of Gen Y. Everything that 90s TV promised us, but we never received- and its fucked us up.

Unfortunately GIRLS is a bit too real, which appears to be what’s making everyone squirm. From Lena Dunham’s average physique to the disrespect she condones from Adam, Shoshanna’s sexual frustration and Marnie’s dead end career, Dunham’s show is scarily similar to real early 20s life.
The new age ‘casual’ relationships are on display in GIRLS, with all their deluding and callous qualities exposed, and Dunham’s disappointing body type is normal by American standards. It’s not easy to watch all your flaws and insecurities as a third party. Its so personal, disgruntled viewers are taking it to Twitter.

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What is also a bitter pill is Hannah’s confession to silver fox Patrick Wilson in the latest episode. Hannah despondently describes her exhaustion with the turbulent emotional experiences of youth, and confesses her thoroughly ordinary desire ‘to be happy’, connoting emotional security from a relationship.
The target demographic, Gen Y females, were raised on the 90s TV heroines: Buffy, Xena and Carrie Bradshaw. Relationships were seen as weakness, side plots or avenues for our protagonist to assert her sexual dominance. Hannah’s confession speaks to tired feminists a truth that is like feminism’s Siberia. Everyone knows where it is, but no one wants to go there.

Bad sex, low self esteem, stagnate careers and less than perfect bodies. Not portrayed dramatically, but in a ‘that’s life’ kind of way. That’s why there are so many outright lovers or haters of GIRLS, because it depends whether or not you’re aware of (or satisfied with) your own reality.

At the end of the GIRLS pilot, Hannah announces to her parents “I think I can be the voice of my generation” This is true, but its seems most of us aren’t ready for it.

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3 thoughts on “The problem with GIRLS.

  1. I like your take on this. I’ve been watching Girls vicariously through other bloggers/writers, and critics. Your perspective is one I have not heard yet. Perhaps the show has gone over most people’s heads as a satire? Yours is the first critique I’ve read where satire has even been mentioned. My irritation with Girls is the seeming tunnel-vision the “girls” have, and are not willing to step outside of that. Also, Lena Dunham got a lot of backlash for the “voice of a generation” comment. Check out my thoughts on Girls, as I’ve heard through the grapevine, on “Judging HBO’s Girls by it’s cover”.

    1. Thanks for the feedback Rachael! Theres no doubt its a polarising show. I had a read of your piece a few days ago, and your view, as well as the ones you explored, are very valid. Dunham receives a lot of backlash over many things, however from a purely unbiased stance, this is excellent for publicity and I don’t think she’ll be stopping anytime soon. Here I’ve tried to keep my love for the show out of the piece, but if I can say anything I think you should watch the show a bit yourself, as right or as wrong as the HBO program can be, its no doubt entertaining and very often addictive. :)

      1. Maybe when it’s out on nexflix or DVD! My take has been that the characters leave their privelaged background unexamined. Yours is the first nod to the fact that it may be satirical at some level though. Interesting. “Isn’t it strange that a vision of normality like Lena Dunham is crucified, while unattainable and unrealistic perfection like Emilia Clarke’s goes without remark? #feministalert” <– do agree with that!

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