Girls is an epic disappointment.
No, I’m not over exaggerating. For the last eight weeks, I’ve watched the new “hit” HBO show Girls because…well, I don’t know. It’s probably because I feel like with school out, I need new shows to watch. It’s also because Girls has been the biggest buzz on television over the last few months, ever since Lena Dunham – the show’s creator, “star” actress, and child prodigy of film – premiered three episodes at SXSW. Those who are tuned into the industry raved about Dunham’s ability to capture her audience, to speak to a generation looking for representation, and to be true and honest about the real issues facing those who live in New York City, struggle out of college, and have problems never before faced honestly by television.
And then there’s me. I’m not in tune with Hollywood, or television, or the latest movers and shakers of an industry in which I know little about. I ask others about what movies are good before I make a decision to see one. I usually can’t watch a full program or movie on television because I lose focus, or interest, and don’t want to commit an hour or two to doing the same thing. What does this mean for me in regard to watching Girls? It means that I never knew who Lena Dunham is. I never saw “Tiny Furniture”, the movie that made her famous a year ago at the same SXSW festival. I didn’t know Brian Williams’ daughter was one of the stars of the show. I was, for all intents and purposes, completely uneducated about what I was watching.
I watched without any of the hype, and yet, with all of it too. Why else was I watching? This was going to be an iconic show. As an admitted fan of Sex and the City (I’ve seen every episode), I was also excited to watch this version of a similar show – MY TIME’S version of that show – as a 20-something who was either facing the same issues, or was close with people who were.
So I now beg HBO – give me my last eight weeks back. And give me the next however many weeks the show runs for back as well. (Wait, what?)
I can’t necessarily pinpoint what it is that turns me off about Girls. It’s 30 minutes with four woman who I should want to be with. There’s Shoshanna, the cute, innocent, Jewish girl who went to Jewish sleepaway camp (YES) and seems to be educated in pop culture. There’s Marnie, the beautiful girl who seems to give everyone a shot, and who’s also one of the best “friends” to be cast on television in quite some time. Jessa is a free spirit, who’s down for anything, and enjoys life day-by-day. And then, there’s Hannah. Come to think of it, there’s nothing whatsoever that I like about Hannah. If pressed to give an answer, I’d argue her ability to expect everything to simply fall into place is her strong suit.
And that’s about where my liking of the show ends. As I explained to a friend 3 weeks ago, I tend to judge new television shows by my remembrance of the names of the characters. If I remember their names within the first four weeks – and I should, if I like the show – then it has probably caught my attention. It was this past week that I could remember all four main characters. Except Adam, Hannah’s boyfriend, who is possibly the worst character on a television show in years.
I should like this show…a lot. While I’m not a 20-something living in NYC out of college, I’m in that crowd. I have those friends. I know these people. The issues faced in the show – if any – are supposed to be “my issues”. And yes, there have been moments where I think I’m starting to come around on the show. Yet, like the old adage, every step forward is met with two steps back. Sometimes, three steps.
Ultimately, my problem with the show is that…it is actually about nothing. This isn’t Seinfeld where the “show about nothing” theme spawned greatness. Instead, this “nothing” every Sunday night on HBO at 10:30PM is an empty, useless “nothing” that doesn’t leave me wanting more as much as it leaves me wanting my time back.
Last week (spoiler alert…) Hannah ran into an old college professor who thought she was a great writer and asked her to read a piece she had written at a “reading”. Rather than get into the travesty that is Michael Imperioli transitioning from The Sopranos’ Christopher Moltisanti to Girls’ Prof. Goldman, focus instead on the reading itself. Hannah allowed Marnie’s opinion, along with the advice of her new supervisor, to sway her into writing a presumably bad piece on her way to the reading. WHO CARES? The result was Hannah not being happy with herself, a repeated theme throughout the show. She also fought with her “best friend”, Marnie, in the most exciting part of the episode only because someone finally told Hannah to shut up and that she sucked. And you know what…she does suck. She’s a terrible character. And these are not the normal issues facing my generation.
While it’s not necessary to be my guide for how to live life, don’t present the show as “this is how it is”. Because it’s not.
Yes, maybe Dunham is a “prodigy”, and maybe she’s a good actress…but her character is terrible. With not enough time spent with the supporting characters such as Shoshanna and Marnie, the show is simply too empty.
And yet, after giving the show the last eight Sunday nights, I feel the need to watch the season finale, and likely, Season 2. At this point, I know what to expect: slow plot line, me wanting to scream at Hannah for being useless as a person, me wanting to yell at HBO/Dunham on giving me another 30 minutes of nothing, and one or two moments that are so outrageous and awkward that I laugh out loud. While I’m stuck hoping that this Sunday’s finale brings me some excitement, for those who are thinking about getting into it and watching all of Season 1 at once…
…save your time, watch Veep instead.