Girls: They Are the Ones They've Been Waiting For
To be clear, Girls -- Lena Dunham's HBO sitcom about a group of women in their early 20s living in New York -- is extremely well written. The characters are complex, the dialogue is oftentimes hilarious and the plot is captivating. After watching the pilot (and the subsequent two episodes via advance screeners), I honestly felt that I'd never seen something quite like it before, and it wasn't solely on account of it being lady-centric... though that certainly helped.
First and foremost, I want Girls to succeed. It's not often that we get a series written, created and executive produced by a young woman (in this case, Dunham, though Judd Apatow and Jenni Konner executive produce as well), let alone an all-female lead cast (Dunham as our protagonist Hannah; Allison Williams as Marnie, Hannah's ambitious best friend and roommate; Jemima Kirke as Jessa, Hannah's wild child British friend; and Zosia Mamet as Shoshanna, Jessa's dorky cousin and roommate), and, as I would really like to hammer home, it's truly enjoyable.
What the series does tremendously is capture a certain type of woman, one whose family clearly had a nest egg, who lives in an urban area, who has ambitions in her career and who at one time had an obsession with Sex and the City. In an interview with Reuters, Dunham was open about how impactful Carrie Bradshaw and the gang was on the creation of Girls: "This show couldn't exist without Sex and the City, both for what it opened up for women on television and because these characters were raised on Sex and the City." For what The Simpsons is for comedy nerds, Sex and the City has clearly become a shared collective in experience for women in their twenties -- privileged women, that is.
What worries me about Girls is the reception it will receive outside of its milieu. New York magazine, one of many publications to praise it, proclaimed the series "FUBU: 'for us by us'" (a word choice I find especially ironic given that there are no people of color as of episode three), pulling a line from the pilot that seems to be interpreted as The Gospel of Dunham: "I think I may be the voice of my generation. Or, at least, a voice. Of a generation." Perhaps Hannah does represent a "type" of college educated young city dweller who is faced with the concept of "scraping by" after years of being financially supported by her parents. This person, however, and Hannah's character specifically, is so blinded by her own privilege that Girls is at times painful to watch. Dunham has wisely inserted Hannah's mother (Freaks and Geek's fantastic Becky Ann Baker) as a voice of reason in Hannah's world of otherwise glossed-over entitlement, but the series has yet to respond to the fact that this sect of "Millennials" (hipster contingent) are problematic in their overall desire to pursue a glamorous lifestyle on their parents' dime because they did everything they were "supposed to do." Instead of any critique or commentary about this concept, the series merely presents it as a fact of life and doesn't try to evaluate it beyond acknowledging its existence and how it sucks to be part of it. Instead, the show's mind is on something else: Sex.