Chick Literal

How I Learned To Love ‘Girls'

Much has been said about Girls, but by and large, people fall into two camps: they love the show or they hate it.  I’ll be honest, when I first saw the show, I was firmly on team ‘hate.’  I think my initial problems with the show stem from the constant Sex and the City comparisons that were made when it first came out.  As a huge SATC fan even a decade after the show stopped airing, I was excited for that void to be filled with something that wasn’t another terrible movie.  Unfortunately, this left me with expectations that were not going to be fulfilled.  Over the top puns and even more over the top outfits were nowhere to be found; instead, there was a lot of awkward humor and more rompers than I’m comfortable with.  SATC made me want to move to New York after college, Girls made me incredibly glad that I didn’t.

I didn’t dislike Girls just for what it wasn’t, I also wasn’t a huge fan of what it was.  “How is this even TV?  If I wanted to see 20-somethings being broke in Brooklyn, I would have just moved to Brooklyn after college like everyone else,” I told a friend after watching the show.  I think my real problem might have been just that I started with the wrong episode; the first one I watched was “The Return,” where Hannah heads back to Michigan for a weekend.  When you have no knowledge of the characters, hearing someone tell herself “You are from New York, you are just naturally interesting… the least interesting thing you say is more interesting than the most interesting thing he says” makes you wonder who this deluded, self-involved character is, and why you’d want to spend any time watching her.  Based on that episode, I felt some degree of outrage that this self-centered but not even remotely self-sufficient character thought she could be the voice of my generation.  I couldn’t relate to the character or the show, so I stopped watching.

Some combination of boredom, discovering HBO Go and continued hype caused me to give the show another shot last month. Seeing the show from the beginning made all the difference.  Watching the pilot, I was taken in by Marnie’s character, with the way she thought she had all the answers because she had a job, her ambivalence about her college boyfriend, her caring but sometimes condescending friendship with Hannah. She gave me something that I could relate to, because at 23, I was Marnie.  Maybe Girls does get me, I thought.

Of course, this isn’t some simple Shoshonna “OMG! I’m totes not a Carrie or a Miranda, I’m a Marnie!” situation.  While her character was what drew me in, what kept me watching was the relationships between the characters.  Of course, there are still elements of the show to which I’ll never relate or understand (why Hannah’s so into Adam, for instance), but that’s true of most shows.  What stands out for me about the show is its brutally accurate depiction of early 20s female friendship.  Sure, it’s not middle school, but it still can be an ugly, awkward, mean time, when everyone’s trying to figure out what life looks like after college, there’s a lot of secret competitiveness and judging, everyone’s changing and there’s a lot of wondering if the people who meant the world to you for four years still fit in your new life.  Cruel things are said.  People drift away or even disappear.

I like that the show lets this happen and doesn’t try to wrap up the girls’ fights in 30 minute sitcom “let’s hug it out” situations.  Things fester and get drawn out.  It’s not pretty, but it’s incredibly true-to-life, and it’s nice to see that played out on screen.  The scene in season two where Marnie’s just ended things with Booth and Hannah calls and it’s obvious that the girls need and miss each other, but neither one can actually bring themselves to say it is so real it breaks my heart.

It turns out Girls isn’t so different from Sex and the City after all, because at the center of both shows is an unbreakable bond between four very different women. They have their fights and their differences, but at the end of the day, they’re going to come through and make their boyfriend rent a car so they can rescue you from rehab.  Yes, they make mistakes in their friendships and in their lives, but they’re still figuring it out, just like the rest of us.  They’re not perfect people, and Girls isn’t a perfect show, but it’s one I’ve finally come to enjoy, and I’m excited to see what Season 3 has in store.

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  • Kristine Ernie Urnikis

    I had just moved into a new apartment and was looking for something to let my brain decompress when I got home from work. Someone suggested GIRLS so I picked up the first season. I hated hated hated the show at first. Who are these self-involved girls and why should I care? I mean, they are all just awful to each other because they are all coming from an extremely selfish place. Is this a New York thing? And why on earth does Hannah want to spend any time with a guy who treats her so horribly and continue to push him to like her? For some reason I kept watching and hoping it would get better. What was everyone raving about? By about the third or fourth episode I realized that I was doing the same thing and unconciously comparing it to SEX & THE CITY. GIRLS is the younger more realistic version of SATC. The characters on GIRLS don’t meet each other for weekly brunch or cocktails and talk about their succeeding, failed or troubled relationships. There’s no shocking sex talk from Samantha that makes Charlotte blush. No quip from Carrie as she sips her cosmo as Miranda responds with a snide remark. No! You see the unraveled workings of their lives and there is no romanticizing of relationships wrapped in a bubble of humor. There is some humor but not the ha-ha laugh-out-loud type. It’s more of that uneasy I-can’t-believe-they-just-said/did-that kind of humor. It’s dark and it’s honest and it’s real. As you watch you start to see these characters growing up, learning about themselves and what they want. It’s a little bit of a mess actually but the kind of mess we’ve all gone through. It’s as real as Lena Dunham’s muffin top, god bless her (and I’m not shunning her body in any way)! My only complaint is the end of season 2. Not going to spoil it for those who haven’t seen it but I thought it was a bit of a fantasy ending for a show that relies on trying to be so real and honest.

    • Andrea Greb

      Completely agree about the Season 2 finale! I also feel like Season 3 so far has felt a little more sitcom-y than previous seasons, but we’ll see if that continues.

  • Crissi Mora

    yes! all of this.
    I’ve gotten all kinds of flack for loving this show. Granted, I’m 32, so a lot of the early 20 something pop culture and slang is difficult to relate to adequately. However, I love how dark the situation are and how they remind me of the exact thought process my friends and I went through during screwed up relationships. I think if people stopped trying to view it as a “feel good” show and instead saw it as the awkward, uncomfortable, naive, stubborn and self-involved comedy that it is, then it might be more enjoyable. I feel like its a more subtle and realistic version of the attitudes and flaws shown on Its Always Sunny In Philadelphia.

  • Julia Papamihali

    Honestly, I can’t really relate to this show. I feel like it’s a misrepresentation of my generation and not a good one at that. It’s making us look like a bunch of self centred slackers. While there are definitely a few of those, most of us are hard working and responsible adults. But I would not call myself a hater, to me the show is just irrelevant.

  • Jackie Griffin

    I can see both sides of the argument. I didn’t really see what was so great about this show. I didn’t feel a need to care about the characters. I am in my 30’s so maybe it doesn’t relate to me or I’ve grown out of that mentality. I get what you are saying about the overall core of the show and the next phase in a twentysethings life but I also feel the show tries to outdo itself by being too self centered and over the top that I can’t bring myself to care about any of the characters. With SATC, I really liked and cared about Carrie and understood why she said things and acted the way she did. I don’t really get Hannah and I hate to say it that I can’t bring myself to care. It seems like things happen to her and they are so over the top but then the story just fades away and nothing is resolved. It’s kind of frustrating. I have given it a second chance and will watch some more of season 3 but I think Lena needs to stop writing and directing almost every episode to allow someone else to properly edit and reign some of her creativity in to allow these characters to grow. Don’t mean to be a bummer but just a my little opinion. : /

  • Milena Skalicky

    “Much has been said about Girls, but by and large, people fall into two camps: they love the show or they hate it. ”

    I’m in Camp “Don’t watch it, don’t give a flying halibut about it, don’t think anything about the show.”

    Oh oops – it’s a 3rd camp 😀

  • Jess Dubbeld

    So I wrote a very long, incredibly interesting and insightful (as usual) response to this.

    But my PC deleted it before I could post it. Guess it doesn’t like Girls.

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