Tuesday, June 19, 2012

"Girls" is seriously the worst show on television

Those of you that know me well may be aware that I consider HBO's Girls to be the worst, most overrated show on television. The season's fourth episode, in which Hannah tries to force herself on her creepy boss and then inexplicably quits her job, was perhaps the most terrible half hour of television I've ever had the misfortune of watching.

That said, I was content to hate-watch the show in private, and contain my ravings within the sphere of a few friends. Then I read this.

Let's first of all note the unbelievable irony that three women were enlisted to talk about the first season of a show entitled Girls, and somehow spent the whole time talking about a boy. Whether that's an indictment of the vapidness, inconsistency, and lack of interesting features of the girls portrayed on the show, or a sad statement about the mindsets of the women writing the article, I'm not sure. But either way, it's not good.
If anything, the season finale served to show us just how incredibly disconnected with reality the show's characters are--and, by extension, how disconnected from reality Lena Dunham is. What's sad is that Grantland's Molly Lambert actually lauds the finale's developments, saying, "I was really impressed with the subtlety of the various final twists. Girls seems to toggle back and forth between embracing network sitcom tropes and subverting them."

What's subtle about Jessa getting married to some guy she hated when she met him three weeks prior? It's just an extension of her whole repulsive, "Oh my goooooosh, I don't, like, know what I want to be, you know? But that's totally fine, because, like, I am what I AM, you know? And besides [smirks], at least I'm not YOU." Put on a kitschy scarf, repeat that back to yourself in a British accent of unclear origin, and you've successfully approximated Jessa's character from season one.

What's subtle about Marnie making out with a Jonah Hill look-alike? We GET it. You're hurting. Charlie's a dick (except for the fact that you drove him to dump you, had make-up sex with him, and then dumped him again mid-coitus). You want to change the way you operate. But are we really supposed to believe that this legendarily uptight girl would passionately make out with Jessa, whom she doesn't even like, on a whim? Or that she wouldn't express the least amount of surprise or disapproval at Jessa's completely random wedding?

I'll leave Shoshanna alone for now. Of the four main characters, her neurotic demeanor is the most believable, and has been the most consistent, of the four. Keep it up, David Mamet's daughter.

And that leaves us with Hannah. I can't really criticize Hannah without criticizing Lena Dunham in the same breath, so let's lump them in together. Given that Hannah is a projection of Dunham's experience and understanding of reality (she's said as much herself), I think that's fair.

For the entire first season, Hannah was a selfish bitch beyond any imaginable scale of possibility. That it took nine episodes for Marnie to call her out on it, and ten for Adam to finally see through it, is as astounding as it is unlikely.

This is a girl who, when she was home for her parents' anniversary, skipped dinner to have sex with a stranger. Who, when her diary (journal? whatever) caused Marnie and Charlie's breakup, couldn't bring herself to be concerned about anything other than what Marnie thought about the style of the diary's entries. Who, after chasing Adam for the better part of the first season and finally gaining his commitment, thought it would not only be fine to flippantly dismiss his desire to move in with her, but that it would be no problem that her ex-boyfriend would me moving in instead. In Hannah's world, literally everything was about her.

Hannah's complete lack of empathy is topped only by the inanity and inconsistency of her decision-making. She complains constantly about a lack of self-confidence, but somehow manages to not only engage Adam's weird masturbatory fantasies but to then steal money from him. She thinks her boss is totally creepy, but for some unknown reason decides to try to have sex with him, then threatens to sue when he refuses, then quits when he plays it off!

Luckily, she's able to make up for her apparently low self-esteem by consistently crapping on everyone around her. Marnie can't seize her own destiny and break up with Charlie. Hannah's former classmate is a terrible author and doesn't deserve the success she's found. Adam is a total jerk when he's not paying complete attention to her.

Is this really a reflection of Lena Dunham's reality? If so, let me take a moment to comment on the fact that the combination of her lack of comfort with her physical appearance (what I wouldn't give to be only 13 pounds overweight) and her constant, unabashed nudity in basically every episode suggests some kind of self-loathing exhibitionism that's downright disturbing. It's as if Girls is this big look-at-me thing for Dunham that allows her to throw her success in the face of everyone who's ever caused her to build up these apparent insecurities.

Of course, we can't really rely on Lena Dunham's interpretation of anything, given that the show is wrought with situations so implausible as to suggest the episodes could only take place in some alternate reality. Take, for example, Jessa's heart-to-heart with her boss, which presumably sparks the course of action that ends in her marrying her former arch-nemesis. Not only has nobody ever had the completely insane dream that Jessa's boss tells her about, but if anyone ever had, basic social guidelines would certainly prevent that person from ever telling anyone about it, much less the subject of the dream. For a show whose appeal comes from its supposed basis in reality, Dunham's grasp of reality is shockingly tenuous.

The better part of me refuses to believe that this can possibly be an accurate representation of anyone's existence, because I can't imagine how little regard I would have for that kind of person. What's worse is that the show purports to exhibit Lena Dunham's reality, and therefore by extension the reality of post-grad, twenty-something women. So either the show speaks terribly poorly of women because almost nothing they do makes any sense and they're so often petty, or the show demands from its viewers an incredible amount of verisimilitude and then presents us with nothing interesting enough to warrant such a suspension of disbelief.

How can anybody see any elements of reality in this show? This is a sentence from the top review on the show's IMDB page: "If you find yourself at that little lost place, post graduation, taking any job that comes along your way and despairing over the fact that you might never get that career you've always dreamt of, or keep ending up in a less-than-perfect relationship because you are willing to pick up any love you can get, these 'Girls' might be some comfort for you."

Really? First of all, I'm a post-grad without a dream job or a dream relationship, and my life is nothing like that. Neither are the lives of any other post-grads I know. And, more importantly, who on earth would find the reality portrayed in Girls comforting? More like terrifying.

I've had female friends to whom I've complained about the show tell me that Girls isn't meant for, well, men. Apparently not. I can only hope that the show reflects the realities of girls' lives and mindsets as little as I think it does.


  1. The greatest sitcom of all time is Seinfeld, a show that focused on the smallest minutia that it couldn't help but be hilarious. In fact I already spent an hour today watching two episodes, each of which I've seen seven times before. However my favorite episode is when Jerry tells a woman that George is a marine biologist and wackiness ensues. Now I assume you, and anyone who reads this site knows what happens next. After a nice walk down the beach the new couple stumbles upon a beached whale and Larry David just so happens to call out for a Marine Biologist (what were the odds). After an epic retelling of his astounding rescue we (the audience) are treated to the reveal that a golf ball was trapped inside the blowhole, a titelist to be exact, the very same titelist we see Kramer slicing in an earlier scene. What makes it a great episode is its ability to take something that could concievably happen in everyday life and making it completely unbelievable. There is no fucking way a golf ball would, or could lodge itself inside the Great Fish (mammal, whatever). But's it up to us, again the audience to suspend disbelief and just enjoy the show.

    The second greatest sitcom is Curb Your Enthusiasm. Much like Seinfeld we are treated to an almost documentary style show focused on Seinfeld co creator Larry David. In the show Larry plays an overly exaggerated representation of himself. Larry is basically playing his own id. No one says everything that is on their mind, no one purposefully makes awkward situations more awkward and no one certainly accuses Michael J. Fox of faking his Parkinsons disease just to spray unsuspecting people with soda. However it's a great show because he's everything we wish we could be. He doesn't care about other people's feelings or worries or desires. He only cares about one thing and that's Larry David.

    Now I've never seen an episode of Girls, not out of protest or anything, it's just that I don't have HBO. But nonetheless I throughouly enjoyed the article, I choose not to read Grantland's article(?, do emails back and forth now qualify as journalism) so I really have no frame of reference for this post. Having said that (Curb reference) I intrinsically like 'Girls' I like the idea where there is a female protagonist who isn't pretty, who isn't charming, or wealthy or endearing. I think there should be more shows that depict women more as they are instead of Hollywood's depiction of how women should be. So I spent some time and watched a few youtube clips, and while I didn't think any scene was the least of which funny I still like the shows potential.

    Sex and the City set feminism back 50 years. It showed horrible women and portrayed them as hero's (heroines) Girls is the exact opposite of those musty, old twats in that I at least get the sense that the show (however loosely you see it) is based in a reality most people can see themselves in.

    8 years ago all men loved Entourage. It was a great escapist show where you could just bro out and project yourself onto one of the characters (Fat, stoner Turtle was my dude for example) They were cool, they were hip, they didn't say things like 'hip', they were just guys, guys wanted to hang with.

    Believe it or not guys and girls are different. Guys don't put the seat up, women save their pubic hair, it's almost like we're from different planets. So in the spirit of Bridesmaids I believe women need a show where they could project themselves onto different characeters and just les out for half hour. And besides the show just finished it's first season. Both Seinfeld and Curb were nothing more than pedestrian after their first season. Just like a rookie QB, a television show shouldn't be determined by their first year. give the show a chance and maybe it could be good.

    Or maybe I should just Netflix the thing and stop talking out of my ass.