As a 29-year-old woman who graduated from a liberal arts college, works in publishing, lives in Brooklyn, and has tattoos of children's book illustrations, I think my continued citizenship of the United States of Internet is contingent upon my writing at least 500 words on HBO's Girls
First off, I loved Lena Dunham's Tiny Furniture
. Loved it! Which is why I was so excited about Girls
, seeing as the subject matter, setting, characters, and cast are so similar. I'm a sucker for a story about people flopping into adulthood and Tiny Furniture
, for all of its slick Manhattan arty rich kid privilege, told a story I related to through characters I didn't.
There's a world of difference between Lena Dunham, director and writer, and Hannah/Aura, the character she's essentially played twice to varying effect. Conflating Dunham with her characters does a disservice to women that borders on misogynistic. No one thinks Seth Rogen should be pilloried for crimes against his generation for playing several identical doughy stoner man-babies and putting his buddies in his movies; people don't believe that he somehow lucked into his writing gigs despite being an idiot because he plays idiots. Dunham is the daughter of well-off artists who plays the daughter of well-off artists/professors. Why is it easier to write off her successes? She's an acclaimed director, an exceptionally believable actress, the creator of an HBO series, single-handedly doing more to normalize women's bodies on television than anyone in recent memory, and a 25-year-old woman
. Yeah, totally, it was probably because she grew up rich.Girls
is television beautifully done. The characters are painfully believable, the apartments are depressingly realistic. And I hated watching every second of it.
Precisely because the show is so well done, Hannah Horvath and her shitty concerns and her garbage friends and her bullshit life enrage me to the point where I wanted to put my foot through my TV, but I can't do that because I can't afford another one, because I am a 29-year-old woman who lives in Brooklyn and pays her own rent on a real life publishing salary
. I believe these characters. And if I ever had to hang out with them for 10 seconds of their, "Ew, what if I had to get a job at McDonald'sssssss!" conversation, I would leave. Straight-up walk out of that kitchen (possibly into traffic). Conveniently, because they're fake and I have a remote control, I can end this toxic friendship before it starts.
If there's someone to blame for that fact that you and I spent our Sunday night watching awful monster people be nauseating, it's not Lena Dunham. She's doing an unbelievably good job of creating on small facet of reality, however grating (or not) you find it. You also can't blame some nebulous nepotism, which people keep sort of bringing up because all of the main actresses have a famous parent. (That does, however, say something about the power of wealth in general--famous, successful people are the ones who can afford to have their kids be actresses and filmmakers, but not every rich kid is talented. These girls are.)
You can, however, blame HBO. The executives who choose what beams into your house are the people who privilege one voice over another; they decided that show was where they'd put their cable bucks and I hate to think what voices didn't get a spot on the air because HBO thought it was important we all hear rich white people discuss how awful it is to have responsibilities. (Without so much as a glimmer of hope that Hannah will change! Why couldn't the hotel maid have caught her pocketing the tip?! A modicum of justice was all I would've needed to maybe give the show a second chance.)
Three weeks ago I decided that Sam and I were going to get HBO. I literally stood in the middle of my living room, justifying my stance by repeating "I AM AN ADULT AND I CAN HAVE NICE THINGS, GODDAMMIT!" in what was definitely an Outdoor Voice. For the first time in my whole life, I make enough money to pay for HBO. I wish I were exaggerating when I say that I felt like I'd taken an express elevator to the penthouse of Kid Kathy's Concept of Luxury when my cable box rebooted and bam, there was the entire season of Eastbound and Down.
Getting access to the show Girls
is a big, big deal for me. I refuse to hang out with anyone (televised or animate) who would not understand that big, big, deal. Hannah and her friends don't get it.
But I that's sort of the point, I suppose. I'm not a 25-year-old ex-intern who's never paid for anything. I'm a 29-year-old publishing editor who's worked for my money, and worked to have a really good handle on what kind of people I want in my life. These Girls
don't get to be my friends.