Girls: They Are the Ones They've Been Waiting For
The portrayal of sex on Girls is perhaps its strongest element, especially when viewed through the feminist lens. Our country is at a crossroads where women's reproductive rights are at stake, where abortion is regularly attacked and where we're called sluts for wanting available birth control coverage options from our insurance companies. Much as I'd love to inspect Girls in a vacuum, it's frankly one of the only series where female sexuality isn't a taboo, a quirk, a scandal, a flat-out punchline (looking at you, 2 Broke Girls) or just completely nonexistent. As those who saw her award-winning film Tiny Furniture know, Dunham is at her best when she's writing about female sexuality without dressing it up with any sort of polish or even romantic connection. Sex, specifically in the life of these characters -- and, dare I say, people in general -- is a normal human function. It's crucial that sex -- talking about it, thinking about it, having and not having it, enjoying it, using protection during it, rejecting it -- becomes a central focus when writing about young women, as it's a part of our normal lives, same as going to work (be it at unpaid internships) or shaving our legs (if that's your thing) in the bath while you best friend sits naked in the tub eating a cupcake.
And this circles back to what bothers me about Girls: women hating themselves while they happen to be having this sex and living this life. Dunham, Williams, Kirke and Mamet are all people with obvious talent (not to mention, famous and/or wealthy parents). Why, then, are we served self-loathing, confused women who are not yet capable of being truly put together? Have we been so burdened by Bradshaw's theory of twos, which postulated that "in New York, you're always looking for a job, a boyfriend or an apartment," that it's impossible to have a successful young woman on TV without her having some kind of horrible fatal flaw in order to speak to and for us lady Millennials? Dunham was in her early 20s when she wrote, directed and starred in Tiny Furniture, and yet not one character in Girls has a resume that's remotely as impressive as hers. Granted, Girls doesn't have a duty to show that women can be everything and not hate themselves for it, but it would be all that much more impressive, revolutionary and perhaps honest if it did.