Lena Dunham

I’m not really sure if I learned anything from the 4th and latest instalment of Lena Dunham’s Girls, but for some reason I think that may have been the point of this episode. In the last episode (Hannah’s Dairy), we are abruptly left off where Marnie’s push over boyfriend Charlie confronts both Marnie and Hannah while he’s on stage performing in his sad two man band. What he’s doing here is trying to expose Marnie as the shallow and unloving woman that he read about in Hannah’s diary.

In the newest episode (Hard Being Easy), we open with Charlie forcing Hannah to do an awkward re-reading of the hurtful truths about Marnie and Charlie’s relationship, as they all sit in Marnie and Hannah’s apartment.

Okay, so even before Charlie goes loco on both girls and storms out of the room with his hand made hipster coffee table, I was already arrested by the ridiculous incredulity of the set up of this confrontation. CHARLIE, who doesn’t live at the girls’ apartment, was snooping around in Hannah’s room, rifling through Hannah’s stuff and finds something Hannah wrote about his relationship. Yet, somehow this is Hannah’s fault? Although this episode played down Marnie’s displeasure towards Hannah’s actions, we can’t forget that last episode ended with Marnie throwing a drink in Hannah’s face because of just this. Where’s the continuity here?

STILL, this is one of the prime examples of why I find Girls so damn frustrating and hard to understand. I mean, all I could do was put myself in Hannah’s position (that’s what the show wants you to do, right?)and imagine some guy yelling at me in MY apartment because he went through MY stuff and didn’t like what he read. I’m sorry, but fuck you Charlie- maybe you should keep your (or in this case your friend’s) curious little hands to yourself.

It seems like the central theme of this episode revolves around the girls trying to exercise some control in their own lives. Hannah attempts to seduce, extort, then threaten her boss (all to no avail), Jessa meets up with an old flame to bang him and throw him out of her apartment, and Marnie spends the rest of the episode trying to get Charlie to bat his eye lashes at her again.

Hey! Look at me! I want you to step on my balls!

Although Hannah’s attempts with her boss fail, she finds unexpected comfort in making her pervy ape of a hipster boyfriend become the sub in their relationship. Walking out of the bathroom to see Adam Sackler shaking one out, begging to be humiliated, I was happy to see Hannah take control of this unseen ‘deviance’ that Adam so badly craved, especially when she makes this uncaring sack of shit apologize to her 3 whole times. But as the episode plays out, I started noticing some subtle nuances, particularly in what was happening with these male characters, that really made me unsure of what exactly Girls has to say here (I think this might be the central theme of the show). Charlie nonchalantly tells Marnie he watches porn, Jessa makes her old BF bust a nut then embarrasses him when she gets the final one up on him, and Hananh finds out that Adam has some secret kinks that one wouldn’t ever expect from his typically assoholian character.

It then struck me that maybe Girls is making a really clever comment with these three males: the men of the 21st century who unashamedly jack it to internet porn, have humiliation fantasies, and despite trendy fedora’s that signal confidence will do anything to bang their ex girlfriends half way through a fire escape. Even more interesting is the grand gesture of all this: being that despite our ‘21st century maleness’- our brains are still puny machines with little tiny cogs, oiled by even the slightest hope of us having sex. All of these dudes have sex (well Adam’s act isn’t really considered sex but you get the picture) with the girls, only after to be illuminated by how one track their minds really are. Whatever the case may be, my mind certainly did A LOT of work to pick that out of this abrupt episode- another episode in which I felt nothing really happened. I guess I’ll just keep waiting for something to…

I really want to like Girls, I really do. But of the three entertaining and very short episodes I’ve seen so far, I can’t get past the curious hurdles that creator and executive producer Lena Dunham seems to have used as a foundation for her 20-somethings-in-jobless-limbo HBO series.

I’ll start off by saying that Girls is a very witty show, and with every new episode Dunham continues to remind us of her commendable aptitude for word play, tightly bound conversations, and phenomenal straight faced skills when acting out some very uncomfortable scenes. Girls follows the lives of three young women living in New York City: the comfortably broke Hannah Horvath (Lena Dunham), her super model material roommate Marnie Michaels (Allison Williams), up tight good girl Shoshanna Shapiro (Zosia Momet), and free spirited bohemian Jessa Johansson (Jemima Kirke).

Okay, so let’s get this straight, Girls is an HBO show that intertwines the stories of 4 young women, living in New York City dealing with issues of careers, love, and sex. Yeah I know I’m not the only one to find this premise irrefutably similar to HBO’s feline power hour show Sex and the City, which similarly gained notoriety for being an unabashed comedy about working women in their 30 somethings living in New York City and dealing with issues of love and sex. However simplistic and even routine this premise may now seem, you really only have to watch just one episode of Mad Men to understand the profound cultural significance of a show with Sex and the City’s pioneering proclivities.

Besides being impeccably well written, acted, and shot, shows like Mad Men perform like a disturbing worm whole back to a time when America’s working women were strictly to be seen and not heard, and even when retro heroines like Peggy Olsen (Elizabeth Moss) become heard, it’s not like we’re hearing about her pearl thong. Sex and the City is largely responsible for beginning our cultural contextualization and understanding of the issues that modern day working women experience.

I’ve heard so many  ‘bro’s’ dismiss Sex in the City because of its feminine appeal – a jump to conclusions that is quite easy to make in the current climate of T.V. land where the commonness of shows like Girls or Zoey Deschenell’s star vehicle New Girl, make it easy to forget how important it is that we now have programming that really does try to follow in footsteps of Sex and the City’s no holds barred attitude  when discussing pearl thongs and boyfriends wanting you to  pee on them.

In its first episode, I was happy to see Girls try to cleverly to nip the onslaught of “this is just another Sex and the City”criticisms sure to follow the show until it breaks out of infancy. When the ridiculously idealistic but innocent Shoshanna asks Jessa for thoughts on her Sex and the City poster (the crowning piece of Soshanna’s bachelorette pad) and Jessa says “Oh, um, I’ve never seen that movie”, Girls gives a glimpse of its undercarriage’s brainy ambitions. When Shoshanna then asks Jessa if she thinks she’s a Keri, or Samantha, its hard not to laugh at the cultural currency Sex and the City’s character types have caused many to use as easy templates to identify working women with; no doubt a slap dash coping mechanism used to situate the modern female in today’s working world.

Still, Girls flattery through homage and commentary is thrown to the wayside as its characters’ astute similarities to Sex and the City’s protagonists proves disillusioning. Hannah is a clear projection of Sex and the City’s Keri (Sarah Jessica Parker) with her money management issues and whimsical submission to the often obvious ploy of stupid immature men. Marnie’s dominance in her relationship with her soft-as-fuck boyfriend carries similar shades of Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) battle to accept her long term and equally as soft boyfriend Steve (David Eigenberg). Even the more secondary members of the group like Shoshanna and her battle with prudishness, or Jessa’s free willed sex life and blunt antics are an undeniable allusion to Sex and the City’s Charlotte and Samantha.

Still, the potential for brilliance in Girls lies not in its character moulds, but rather what Girlshas shown that it is willing to do with them. While Hannah and her ladies all seem reminiscent of the finely crafted characters of arguably one of the most important shows about and featuring females, Girls operates more like an early introduction to these characters and this is simultaneously fascinating and totally frustrating. Watching Hannah get screwed around with each episode by her douche-bag-with-a-Gorilla-physique boyfriend is so hard to endure because it is not quite funny, but rather very pathetic. But if this is really the intention of Girls, it is achieved beautifully because after the airing of three episodes I still cannot completely like Hannah, especially not in the same entertaining screw ball way that one likes Sex and the City’s Keri. Girls might be the only show I’ve seen that makes you fight damn hard to whole heartedly like its main character- but alas, we live in a different climate than the women of Sex and the City and Girls makes this so clear with the air of instability that its young ladies breathe. I guess we can just chalk it up to the fact that Girls attempts to posit women in the real world, not the brightly lit Upper East Side of Manhattan- and this will just take some getting used to.

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