June 11, 2012

Looking Back On Season One Of Girls

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What is the issue?

I watched the first episode of Girls back in September and loved it. This was before the backlash, before all the Brooklyn bloggers, who control the online media, decided that this was all we were going to discuss. In the weeks leading up to its premiere, it seemed like I couldn’t go through the day without someone offering their opinion on Girls, like it was some nervous tic that was exclusively affecting twentysomethings in metropolitan areas. And while I didn’t agree with the criticism of the show, I do think it raised important questions about the lack of racial diversity in television and film. So, yay, for important discussions we aren’t having enough of. (But, also, shut up please. If I hear another self-absorbed media type discussing what the show meant to them, I am calling Time Warner Cable and canceling my internet forever. This includes me, of course.)

When I re-watched the premiere in April, I found myself examining the show in a different way. All of the noise, all of the criticism that I had been inundated with for the past month, was marring the scenes I once found enjoyable. “Damn you, internet!” I thought to myself. “Must you ruin everything!” I thought of a show like Sex and the City and how it would’ve been affected if the internet had been as big as it is now. I mean, are you kidding me? It would’ve been skewered! Irate bloggers would’ve called it anti-feminist, stereotypical, classist, racist, and a lot of other “ists” I wouldn’t have understood. Thank God it managed to avoid the wrath of bloggers and exist on its own. Because all of this other stuff, all of this incessant buzzing from people who aren’t you, really does detract from your viewing experience. I shouldn’t have to feel weird about loving a show like Girls. I shouldn’t have to preface my adoration with “I know how you all feel about it but…” If I like it, I like it. I shouldn’t have to care about all the people who don’t or justify my reasons for enjoying it. Couldn’t I just love Girls in this pure way, in this way that it’s meant to be watched?

As the season progressed, the criticism stopped. I’m not sure why this is. Maybe it’s because the entire internet has the attention span of a gnat OR maybe, just maybe, people shut the hell up about it because they realized it was actually great. I think it’s more of the latter. People actually wrote blog posts that were like, “OK, JK. I actually love Girls. I’m done hating Lena Dunham now!” and it’s like, are you kidding me? You should all feel like presumptuous dicks. Also, for judging a show based on the self-absorption of characters, could you try to be a little, oh I don’t know, LESS self-absorbed?

The season finale of Girls airs next week and I, for one, am sad to see it go. In the last few months, it’s been like a comforting friend. I wake up every Sunday being like, “Ew, the weekend is ending!” and then I realize that Girls is on tonight and I feel better. Unlike a lot of other misanthropic writers who secretly watch Girls on the DL and won’t let themselves enjoy anything, I have no problem admitting this. I have no problem admitting that when I see Hannah and Adam interacting on the screen, I feel a buffet of emotions. Watching such a modern relationship play out on screen, a relationship that involves unreturned text messages and never meeting the other person’s friends and getting treated vaguely like crap but not loving yourself enough to get out of it, feels revolutionary. Even now, as Hannah finally “gets” Adam, things aren’t perfect. They are still both screwing it up in subtle ways.

Watching the relationship of Hannah and Adam unfold is like getting to open up a new present each week. Adam could’ve easily been a one-dimensional jerk character but, thanks to the stellar writing and performance of Adam Driver, he’s given all of these nuances. Sure, he’s a dick who might be jerking Hannah around, but she’s also using him for life experience. They’re both too wrapped up in themselves to love each other in the way they want to be loved. On a lot of television shows, a hero and a villain need to exist, clear lines need to be drawn to make the audience know who to root for. But with Hannah and Adam, they won’t let you write either of them off. They’re neither good or bad. They’re just two people who found each other at weird times in their lives and each have a lot of growing up to do.

Last week, my friend came over to watch Girls, as per our tradition, and when the episode ended she said, “I don’t care what anyone says about this show. I’m interested in stuff that makes me feel things. I’m indifferent to so many things in popular culture right now but with Girls, I know I’m guaranteed to feel something and that’s all that matters to me.” Couldn’t have said it better myself. TC Mark

image – Girls
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