I’m not ashamed to say I am completely addicted to HBO’s Girls. But I have a lot of friends who either seem embarrassed to like it or who dismiss it as weird, gross, or annoying. It is, without a doubt, all of these things. Lena Dunham doesn’t look particularly great naked and yet we are forced to watch her have sex in almost every episode. Her character, Hannah Horvath, is a self-proclaimed narcissist and we are never allowed to forget it. She talks about herself incessantly and isn’t concerned with much other than completing a book about every single one of her thoughts and emotions. In fact, all of the characters are frustrating to watch. So why do we keep tuning in?
I’ve often wondered where the line between introspection and narcissism falls. Members of my generation were, for the most part, coddled by our parents. We were taught that we are special; that we matter. We were given awards like “participant” (holler at 6th grade me for not being able to run a mile in 7 minutes) and told that we were great no matter what we did. Whatever you’re thinking/feeling/saying is wonderful and important, sweetheart. Keep doing it. These parenting methods led to a generation characterized by words such as self-centered, delusional and lazy. You might say these are huge generalizations; that they don’t describe you at all. To that I would say, how many Buzzfeed quizzes have you taken in the past month? (Today I spent my News Media Ethics class learning what strain of weed I am–girl scout cookies! Now I understand myself.) How many times have you thought to yourself that you should start blogging? How many tweets have you posted expressing ideas our parents would have never felt comfortable making public, but that you deem brilliant and earth-shattering? Of course some 20-somethings are more self-centered than others. But as a whole, we are Hannah Horvath: “I don’t want you to freak out, but I think I may be the voice of my generation.”
The hysterical irony of me writing this is that Thought Catalog is a breeding ground for exactly the kind of introspective millennials I’m talking about. But my point is that as much as we laugh at Hannah’s ridiculous comments, they’re not too far from our own everyday actions. One of Hannah’s most relatable quotes was her take on relationships: “I just want someone who wants to hang out all the time and thinks I’m the best person in the world and wants to have sex with only me.” I cannot put into words how many of my friends have spoken different variations of this sentence. Not only is our generation self-obsessed, but we also fear relationship labels like the plague. Hannah could just say she wants a boyfriend, but instead she dances around it to avoid sounding like the crazy girl–how many 20-something girls, probably including yourself, have you known to do this? I’m not ready for a boyfriend, you know? I just, like, want a fuck buddy who will also hang out with me during the day. God forbid we call that a relationship, right?
Girls is addicting because the vast majority of us are Hannah Horvath. Clearly I am or I wouldn’t be writing this introspective (narcissistic?) article about introspection (narcissism?). We love it because it was written about us–but we can watch from the pedestals of our couches and laugh at Hannah’s antics, firmly planted in denial that we aren’t exactly like her. We love this show because we all have a Shoshanna: “Um seriously though, I, like, really think that the best years of your life are, like, totally gonna happen here.” Marnie is the bitch we love to hate and hate to love. And I don’t know about everyone else, but I just want to be Jessa, plain and simple.
One day we’ll all have to grow up and care about people other than ourselves (Kids? Gross.) But until that day comes, just accept Girls into your life and learn to love your self-obsessed, bitchy self.