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understanding the GIRLS backlash

i love the HBO series GIRLS. yet i understand why some people don’t like it … there are many reasons why the show is getting lots of flack. here are just a few of them:

1. EXCESSIVE HYPE — the show got such critical accolades that nothing but disappointment could follow when a wider audience sampled it. i watched the first 2 eps about a month before the premiere and loved them. i hadn’t read any of the press yet and wasn’t swayed. then i read the New York magazine cover story and was revulsed. I wanted to punch the article’s writer in the face. though I did not love lena dunham or the show any less, i can see why people were bracing themselves to dislike GIRLS. if overbearing pseudo-intellectual hipsters love it, how could i?

2. JEALOUSY the show’s auspices are enviable — its executive producer is one of the biggest names in hollywood. its creator, writer and supporting talent breathe rarefied air. don’t we all wish we had wealthy, famous, well connected parents and mentors to nurture us in the arts from the day one? that we had an economic, intellectual and social framework that encouraged us  to pursue our heart’s desire? those of us without family money and connections generally enter adulthood with college loans and credit card debt. we take buzzkill jobs that pay enough to subsist …  and within a few years our younger forms of debt transform into mortgages, families and dependents. consequently we become even more risk averse and stuck where we are. we resent those who escaped our fate and are thriving. like the girls of GIRLS. this is a silly argument though because it doesn’t mean the show isn’t good or the girls themselves aren’t standalone awesome. best example: Julian casablancas. Did he hit the genetic jackpot? perhaps. But The Strokes are straight up amazing – it doesn’t matter who Julian’s parents are.

3. INTOLERANCE FOR STRONG YOUNG WOMEN VOICES – Remember how some men just hated Sex And the City? It’s the same idea here, but GIRLS is even MORE threatening because it’s about women who are

  • young (how dare these chicks have expectations and demands … what do they know about life, the world? they must pay dues first!)
  • not all stereotypically beautiful (lena dunham is SO unattractive! i can’t believe she lets all her fat show.)
  • sexually unfulfilled (SATC was all about women who constantly got laid and constantly had amazing sex. GIRLS shows the awkwardness and loneliness that can come with sex when you are young and don’t know what the hell you are doing. it is a painful truth to face)

i know a lot of people are put off by the narcissism and entitlement of the millenials, and i can be too at times. just the other day i was walking home around 9 pm after a long day at the office and a girl on the sidewalk held up an sign that said, “PLEASE HELP. TOO CUTE TO PROSTITUTE.” She had a Urban Outfitters-esque outfit on, nose ring, bleached hair and said, “Miss can you help? You don’t want to see me sell myself do you?”

The fellow with her snickered. I glared back at them.

“Oh, maybe you DO!” she replied.

To which I shouted: “Maybe you should get a real job!”

To which she screamed in a deliberately childish tone, “NO! NO, you can’t make me!” The two of them laughed and kept walking.

In that moment I felt like such a heavy. Like my grandfather the WWII Lt. Colonel yelling at some hippies when he got back from Okinawa. OK scratch that- mixing war eras but you know what I mean.  There’s a part of me that relates to “F THAT SHIZ” mentality of the OWS crowd, though. Why pay dues into a corrupt system that does not offer job security, pensions or even decent medial coverage? What’s the point? For a subsistence wage? Opting out might be less stressful and more emotionally rewarding, you know? I dunno. Just saying I understand the malaise. And those goddamned millenials will probably somehow — by a miracle we’re not yet privy to like the Internet in the late 90s — end up rich like the hippies turned Boomers did. I can just feel it.

In any case, the show is not for everyone. It’s too realistic, too truthful for some to bear. It reflects the narcissism of our contemporary culture in a way that cuts to the bone. That of course is why I love it. It’s interesting because it’s true. It’s funny because it’s true. Can’t wait to see where it takes us…

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1 Comment
  • beth

    love it. Your remarks are so true and of course I can relate. you should be a TV critic when you grow up. For the NYT or some mag. Seriously. You write well and you can watch some fine art and some crap from home and talk about it. You were made for it – sitting on the 2nd floor of North Dining Hall commenting on the people and drama below prepped you for it. I can say “I knew her when”

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