March 12, 2012

Can We Please Have More Shows About Quirky White Girls?

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What is the issue?

It all started with Sex and the City. Watching those women find themselves throughout their 203,329,475 boyfriends, million dollar apartments and extremely lucrative but incredibly undemanding jobs, I felt like I finally saw myself. And it was refreshing, you know, because if there’s one demographic that’s missing in entertainment — so much so it’s beginning to feel intentional — it’s the quirky, city-dwelling white girl. She’s awkward, she’s hyper self-aware, she’s not too good with men but very open about her sex life (she makes lots of vagina puns — the definition of liberated!), she’s all of us. And while SatC gave me my first real taste of that sweet, sweet representation — I didn’t feel it was quite “me.” I mean, I’m a 23-year-old, and let’s be honest — those bitches were one foot in the grave. Who wants to hear about white women figuring themselves out in their thirties when you could watch them do it in their undeniably sexier early-to-mid twenties?

And as though the heavens themselves parted and sent me down my own hopes and dreams on a little cumulus cloud, I got everything I was looking for this past year. Someone, somewhere, had heard the stifled-but-powerful cry of young, attractive, acceptably quirky white women everywhere and sent us what I refer to as The Golden Trifecta. Whitney, 2 Broke Girls, and New Girl — like some three-ring circus of hilarity and refreshing perspective — finally gave me what I had for so long thought would never be seen on network television. On the surface, they may look similar, but that couldn’t be any further from the truth. Their beautiful skin, ranging from ivory to ecru, is a veritable crash-course in diversity. Their financial backgrounds, ranging from lower-upper-middle class to upper-upper-middle class, finally gave us that slice of life that we never get to hear about. How often have we asked ourselves, “How do reasonably attractive white girls handle themselves when spit out from their 40,000-a-year liberal arts college and can no longer take out dad’s Volvo on request?” Well, we’ll never have to ask again.

But watching the shows, as incredible and witty as they were, never quite left me fulfilled. Don’t get me wrong, I could never tire of banter whose every punchline is some variation of the word “vagina,” or makes an “aw, shucks” eye-roll play on how delightfully stupid the female protagonist is, but it just wasn’t enough. Sure, Zooey Deschanel’s Acceptable Levels of Asperger’s™ absolutely kills, and Kat Dennings has never met a sex pun that she couldn’t deliver with zest, but I wanted more. More, more, more. I thought, “Watching 20-something white girls make it in the big city while they discover themselves and date lots of emotionally stunted losers, only to later complain about it over some form of alcohol is fun — but it’s not real enough. Network TV can only provide you with so much grit, and I want the self-deprecation, the nudity, and the awkwardness to be turned up to 11, if you will.” And things have come full circle, right back to the home base of white girl liberation that started it all, HBO.

When I first watched the trailer for their new show Girls, I thought it was too good to be true. I had to turn it off, take a few deep breaths, and check the sources to make sure it wasn’t some elaborate joke being played on me personally. It’s just, how could something so perfectly cover all the bases and be on a channel that lets you see boobs? It’s just… good things like that don’t happen to average people like me, you know!? But there it was: everything I have ever dreamed of. The cast, white upon white upon white upon white, like that part in Willy Wonka where the kid is inside the TV. Beautiful. The setting? New York City, perhaps the most underrepresented area in the continental US in entertainment, especially when it comes to young white people discovering themselves. The carousel of disappointing lovers? Check and double-check! The lame sex jokes? In abundance!! The family backgrounds? Firmly middle-class. And to top it all off, the seemingly intelligent girls who regroup to do nothing but discuss their lame love lives, self-deprecate, wonder why things are going so wrong for them, or try to “figure themselves out” in the Big City™? CHECK AND MATE.

I just… it’s just… we did it, middle-class, college-educated, liberal, awkward, twenty-something, city dwelling white girls. We’ve finally arrived. And one day, I’ll be so proud to tell my daughter that, yes, when mommy was young, she got to watch as the media finally realized that she was a human being, too, with something interesting to say. God bless America. TC mark

image – Girls
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