I debated putting this post up on my Talking TV blog since it’s about the HBO’s series Girls… but ultimately my thoughts on the show circle back to dating, relationships and love and so I thought it more appropriate here.
The thing I love about the series Girls is just how flawed, fucked up and real the main characters are. When the show premiered there was a huge backlash of people complaining that the characters were unlikeable and doing stupid things. Well duh– young adults are often unlikable and do stupid things when they first leave the bubble of youth and fly face-first into the harsh realities of life. So many things they’ve always taken for granted or expected as true prove to be fleeting, difficult, or just wrong. It ain’t pretty, and Lena Dunham and her crew aren’t afraid to show it to you, warts in all.
A lot of what they’re going through resonates with me, because I went through similar things at that age– I think most of us do, and while many people probably try to forget that time in their life– or at least, whitewash their memories– I tend to believe that mistakes you make are just as important if not more so than the things you did right the first time. The person you are today was directly shaped by those events in your life, bad or good, and it can be sometimes amusing and sometimes illuminating reflecting back on them while watching these characters go through some of that stuff the first time.
I think it resonates with me on another level too, as a middle-aged man recently divorced. So many things I had taken for granted or expected as true proved to be fleeting, difficult or just wrong. The bubble of “happily ever after” has been burst, and left me face-first into the harsh realities of life.
On my “About” page I talk about the focus of my blog:
“My Ideal Woman” isn’t a checklist or goal; it’s a celebration of all the things I love about women, expressions of my enthusiasm and delight of the female mind and body. Very few are the women I see in person, in passing, in print or on screen who don’t have something to wonder, cherish, ogle or fantasize about. This blog is dedicated to expressing my appreciation of the fairer sex.
The girls of Girls are a bundle of flaws, and they do stupid things, sometimes mean and selfish things. But so many of those flaws illuminate the path that they’ve traveled. As the season progressed, I found myself drawn in, wondering why they’re doing these things, how they got here, and wondering what lessons they’re learning right before my eyes. In the spirit of the focus of my blog, I wanted to talk about each of the main characters of Girls and what I love about them. [SOME SPOILERS BELOW THE CUT]
Lena Dunham as Hannah Horvath
There are many things I love about Hannah. I love that she’s an aspiring writer who’s got a lot of insecurities about her talent and difficulties mustering up the ambition to really strive for her dream– that’s something I can totally relate to. I can also relate to her struggles to accept that someone might find her attractive, and how insecurities can really sabotage so much that life has to offer– only her self-sabotage is taken to the extreme, to the point of near unbelievability. I root for her because I see so much of my younger self in her, and I want her to avoid similar mistakes I made, and to grow and learn from the ones she does make.
I also applaud Lena Dunham for bringing us a character who is so physically different than women you see on TV or in the movies. Lena is cute but she’s a bit frumpy, and as Hannah she dresses a bit awkwardly and is self-conscious about her weight, and yet you see the character on screen naked, having sex, and put in awkward situations that just comes off feeling raw and real. There’s a scene that stands out, where she walks into her boyfriend’s bedroom and he’s masturbating, but rather than stopping he talks to her while continuing. At first she’s repulsed, but she doesn’t go away, and you can see the fascination and curiosity across her face as she watches something she’s been told is dirty or nasty, and yet wanting to see how guys do it, right there in person. And she gets turned on not just by the deed, but the sexual power she wields over her boyfriend as the scene plays out.
Allison Williams as Marnie Michaels
I have to admit to not really feeling much for Allison/Marnie at first. I mean, Allison Williams is a beautiful woman, and her character came off to me as a rather bland, driven, beautiful girl with a boyfriend. I’ve written before that I’m drawn to people who deviate from the norm, and Allison is cut from the same physical cloth as any number of young beautiful actresses.
But as the season progressed, Marnie became more and more interesting to me. She did surprising things that I wouldn’t have expected her character to do. Trying desperately to get back together with a boyfriend she was totally bored with simply because she didn’t want to be alone, but then realizing once he agreed to get back together that she really didn’t want that anymore and calling it off for good. Meeting this random guy at an art show (I believe) who was not physically all that attractive, but getting so turned on by his outrageous self-confidence that she had to lock herself in a bathroom to masturbate. Going out with Jessa to try and pick up guys, and both of them go back to one guy’s apartment despite him being a bit of a pathetic douche, and then her and Jessa proceed to make out and leave the guy on the outside looking in. And finally, in the last episode of the season, blowing off her ex’s suggestion that they fuck in the bathroom and then proceeding to get drunk and throw herself at the overweight dorky guy who emceed the wedding.
By the end of the season, I was wishing I was the dorky guy in the suit who gets to kiss the cake off Marnie’s lips, and presumably go home with her. Huzzah!
I guess what I really loved about Marnie’s character is that she seems to be trying to break out of the nice little bubble that she’s lived in her whole life, doing the things that are expected of her, and instead going with whatever flow seems right at the time. Surprising herself and the others around her. I find that her character more than any of the others is who I look forward to seeing next season.
Jemima Kirke as Jessa Johansson
I found myself attracted to Jessa almost immediately– the British accent over a deep sexy voice, the Bohemian-style of dress, exuding self-confidence. And yet by season’s end I have to say her character has become my least favorite. She has shown a real mean streak, a selfishness, and a recklessness that’s quite alarming. I’m not sure what to make of her surprise wedding to the dude she nearly had a threesome with Marnie. She was (somewhat justifiably) so mean to that guy in that episode that I couldn’t help but wonder if she was marrying him just to get her hooks on his money– his character is a boorish Wall Street guy who’s throwing his money around on wasteful ridiculous things. And yet in the episodes prior they’ve sort of set the stage that she’s been forced to confront the fact that she’s lost and that she needs to find out what she wants out of life. Then the next time we see her she’s marrying this guy, after a supposed whirlwind romance where he tracks her down after being blown off that night with Marnie.
Still, I do find myself curious to see how the marriage plays out– is she being a selfish manipulator, or is she genuinely trying to turn over a new leaf? Was she mean to this guy initially because she was secretly attracted to him despite being repulsed by his boorish behavior, but once she gave him a chance was won over? I honestly have no idea what Lena Dunham has planned for Jessa… and that’s a cool thing.
Zosia Mamet as Shoshanna Shapiro
I have to admit to having a bit of a crush on Zosia Mamet. I’m not sure exactly why, but I find her irresistibly cute for some reason and I was totally stoked when I heard she was going to be on a show on HBO (and maybe… naked Zosia!). Unfortunately, she plays a rather minor role in Season 1, though I’ve heard that Dunham liked Zosia’s performance so much that Shoshanna may play a larger role next season.
I love that she’s such a bundle of neuroses, hyper and spastic, and when it’s revealed that she’s an unwilling virgin and watch as she unsuccessfully tries to lose her virginity (so horribly sabotaged by her insecurities and general spaziness), I can’t help but root for her character to lighten up, lose it already so she can start actually having enjoyable sex and maybe relax a little bit. I’m not sure if her character is just around for comic relief, but I think she’s got potential for a really interesting character arc and hope that gets developed in further seasons.
Have you seen Girls? What do you think of the show? What do you think of the characters?