Does this get adulthood right?’ is a blog series where a yr an adult writer watches or re-watches or reads a cultural work about adulthood and consider whether it’s depiction of adulthood is reflective of real life. Past entries can be read here.
What’s the thing called? Girls. (You’re on the internet, so you’ve obviously heard of it)
When was the thing made? The showed debuted earlier this year, first to wide pre-release acclaim than to wide pre-release-acclaim-backlash, satirized BRILLIANTLY by my favorite writer in this hilarious blogpost (If you don’t bother clicking the link, the joke is I link you to my post about Girls. I’m my own favorite writer). The show just finished it’s first season and has been picked up for a second.
What’s the thing about? The show is about a small group of white 23/24-year-old girls, who are living out their post-college/pre-career lives in and around Brooklyn. They have weird friendships, pseudo-relationships, job troubles, uneasiness about their lives, petty disagreements. The show, ostensibly, over the course of several seasons, will depict it’s characters development from complete fucking idiots, to actual grown-ups. But for this first season, Girls has mined the humor of those first couple years out of college for the broken, silly depravity that marks the transition many middle-class college grads go through after college, but before they know what the fuck they are doing.
The characters are led by Hannah, an entitled, self-conscious wannabe personal essayist, in the mode of Sloan Crosley (if you don’t know who Sloan Crosley is, please don’t look her up. She’s the worst). Hannah thinks she’s the voice of her generation and is stuck fawning for most of the season over her weird/awesome fuck-buddy Adam. The other “girls” in the show are Hannah’s shallow rooomate Marnie, their naïve/oddball/virginal friend Shoshana, and self-styled manic pixie Jessa. Each episode follows their various misadventures and the series succeeds (in my mind) because it presents its character with a TON of flaws, and mines those flaws for humor.
Who made the thing? The show is the vision of 26-year-old auteur Lena Dunham, who wrote/directed many of the episodes and stars as the main character. Though it’s safe to say the show would never have happened (at least in its current state) if Dunham hadn’t been shepherded by executive producer Judd Apatow into the welcome, creatively-tolerant arms of HBO. Part of the initial backlash about Girls was, I think, based the blessed rise of Dunham. If you have time or interest, I highly recommend sportswriter Bill Simmons’ fawning podcast interview with Dunham, where she talks a lot about how incredibly lucky she was/is. Essentially, Dunham self-financed her independent feature debut, Tiny Furniture, got it into Sundance 2011 (yeah, last years Sundance), which in itself is an incredible blessing. Then, two months later, she met Judd Apatow, who helped her develop/pitch her show, which was picked up by HBO in August of last year. As a result of Dunham’s unbelievably good fortune, a lot of film/creative people, who maybe aren’t into the show, don’t just dislike it, but actively resent the fact Dunham got to make it. Then they blogged mean things about it.
What’s the take on adulthood? Basically that young adults are self-involved, self-serious, naïve, entitled, and in many ways, downright weird. Also, that life after college is both a ton of fun, but also, kind of terrible, in that; you’re broke, you’re friends go off in different directions from you and it takes actual work to grow as a person. One of my favorite episodes of the show is when Hannah goes back to her Michigan hometown, and shows her interacting with friends who still haven’t left yet, in a couple tremendously funny but slightly dark scenes – at one point Hannah watches one of her old friends “dance performances” and can’t help but make fun of it. The show is note-perfect in showing how moving to a big city can accelerate you’re grasp of the outside world, but can also make you super, duper pretentious about living in Brooklyn, or wherever. Also, in that episode, Hannah’s Dad throws out his back while fucking his mom doggy style in the shower, which is one of the funniest/most uncomfortable things ever.
Does this thing get adulthood right? I’d say this show has a pretty clear grasp on the first stages of new adulthood, before you have a sense of direction and you’ve yet to be smacked in the face by life a few times. In fact, this show’s bread and butter has been finding a huge amount of humor in the ways life can smack you in the face, and then exaggerating those moments for the full breadth of their awkwardness.
If I was to watch one episode, which one should I watch? The funniest episode, in my mind, was “Welcome to Bushwick aka The Crackcident.” Most of the action takes place at a cavernous, exaggerated warehouse party in Bushwick. It’s a funny meeting of different worlds, with slew bunch of ridiculous/unrealistic/hilarious scenes, but the episode ends on an unexpectedly positive note. If you don’t like/laugh at this episode, this show probably isn’t for you.
Henry Goldman is the founder of yr an adult and is confident this is the last blog post you will ever need to read about Girls.