The Thing About All These New TV Shows About Girls

I keep seeing myself everywhere — on billboards, television shows, magazine covers, and websites. And I know I am not the only one. Every time I read an article or trend piece about what it means to be a 20-something female right now, I feel a little cynical. It’s probably nothing I’ve haven’t heard before, but its still kind of annoying. The general sentiment is that we can all be summed up by television shows with the word “girl” in their titles and/or female bloggers who encapsulate everything it means to be totally lost while simultaneously caring about nail art. “Girls! They have such strange priorities! They have no idea what they’re doing!” Seems to be the overarching theme.

I’m aware that I might be the epitome of a 20-something Brooklyn girl. I started my early 20s in Williamsburg as a dog walker; I made around $200 a week and spent it all on booze and clothes. 60% of the guys I’ve dated I met on OkCupid, and the rest at bars (Union Pool). After a year in Brooklyn, I moved to San Francisco and spent 24 consecutive months of summer laying in the grass in Dolores Park, growing my hair long, and trying (and failing) to ride a bike. I started blogging about all of this, and landed the job that sort of shaped my career. Two years of grad school (M.A. in Media Studies, New School) and a few agency and freelance jobs later, I am now living in Greenpoint with my boyfriend and our cat. I’m not a unique snowflake. I see girls like me on the Internet all the time, and I’m happy about it.

We’re foolish with money and spend hours planning our dream closets on Pinterest. We claim to love our bodies but still read about juice cleanses and celebrity weight gain. We cry at home to Downton Abbey. We fall in love and have meaningful relationships that culminate in marriage. We’re single and not unlike bachelors of yore, with nice apartments filled with things we bought ourselves, including condoms and vibrators. For some reason, people love analyzing and editorializing these dichotomies like they’re exotic, but the truth is that we’ve always been this dynamic, we’ve just never so loud about it. That’s the thing no one’s really talking about.

The thing so many of the accounts of “girls” are missing is the fact that there is no roadmap for us anymore. Life has become (to our benefit), supremely al la cart, and we can pick and choose from it as we please. The only real standard we have for ourselves comes from the mirrors we hold up to each other, which have never been stronger or more accurate. For example, the “It Happened To Me” section on XOJane exists not just so the bloggers can confess the things they’ve done, but so other women can say, “Oh thank god, I thought I was the only one.” The ability for young women to connect and feel included has never been greater.

When we see ourselves in Zooey Deschanel or Lena Dunham, it’s an affirmation that the world at large is picking up on the fact that girls like us exist at all — and that our existence is meaningful, even if it doesn’t always make sense or come with clear instructions. We want to know who we are now as much as we want to know who we have the potential to become in the future, and other women who fundamentally remind us of ourselves are powerful barometers of everything that is possible. Especially when they blog daily and create popular television shows.

Which is why if there was ever a time to start a blog or a YouTube channel about your clothes, your apartment, the things that piss you off, the career you are pursuing, or what acne treatment you are using and how you are 27 and love Justin Beiber, that time is now. So many of us consider ourselves writers (and/or bloggers) because we have a need to tell our stories that goes beyond what can easily be assumed of us. We may not be snowflakes, but we are all very different. The one thing we certainly have in common is how much we enjoy learning about each other. We’re teaching each other the truth about real women, and that education is helping to eliminate a lot of the crap we learned growing up. Regardless of what you might have heard, it’s actually a really great time to be a girl.

The 20-something urban-dwelling woman is not a new experiment, but it does look and feel different than it did ten or 20 years ago. Part of that has to do with the fact that we are now telling our own stories, and can take ownership over what is being said, written, and produced about us. As much as we might feel attacked for not being the ideal upwardly-mobile young person, or for not being what the majority of society considers physically or morally acceptable for our demographic, or for blogging about our personal lives to begin with, we must remember that with every confession and truth we share about what it is like to be us, we are doing something great for girls in general. And for that, we should all be very proud.

Just remember, it may not interest the mainstream forever, and trust me — people will always make fun of you for it. But really, who cares?  They can write about us all they want, just as long as we write about ourselves more. TC mark

image – Girls


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  • Chrissy

    Pssssssst, it’s “á la carte”

    • Blabla

      à la carte to be more precise and annoying 

      • Chrissy

         Yeah. I know. I was on my Blackberry and was unable to correct my mistake.

    • Parlousperson

      Psssssssst, it’s not. It’s “à la carte”

  • Candace Jane

    Well spoken. Thank you.

  • beekers03

    we have a need to tell our stories that goes beyond what can easily be assumed of us”

    Love this. Thanks for writing it!

  • Katrin Huth / ktinka

    This is gold. Thank you.

  • Aladin Sane

    Oh white chicks, don’t you ever stop believing.

  • guest

    liked this a lot.

  • Kat

    Really well said. Thanks Caitlin!

    Shout out to the other 27-year-old Belibers reading this. Purple ninjas unite!

  • Ivan

    “a la carte,” that’s just so French. I prefer the American phrase, “all you can eat buffet.” 

  • Dismiss "girls"

    “Women” are full, independent human beings with agency. “Girls” are children.

    Please don’t delay progress for women by another generation because you want to be called a cutesy little girl.

  • xsssy


  • Guestropod

    man… I just don’t get pinterest

  • Anonymous

    So basically it’s super exciting and radical that more TV shows are being made about white women (or “girls”) with disposable income, where they are mysteriously able to support themselves through blogging, and have sex with dudes (right? are there lesbian characters on these shows?) and buy lots of things. So it’s COMPLETELY “socially acceptable”, sorry, “physically and morally acceptable” by the standards of the American cultural mainstream. How…interesting.

  • Lilym

    don’t front like it’s suddenly ‘radical’ now to be a straight cisgendered wealthy  abled white woman, it hasn’t been and it never will be.  couldn’t you give at least one of your tv shows to a person of color, or with a disability? oh thats right because it couldn’t be a show about fabulosity and “dynamic” choices when there’s a constant systemic oppression being enacted on the main characters.

  • Xxx

    girls like you are everywhere, it’s true.  and you’re all terribly boring.

    • Domino

      nawwww meanie

  • Samantha

    NGL, I didn’t read this article but I clicked on the Twitter link hoping it would just be a page that was completely blank except for the words “They’re white.”

    • Sam

      I wish I could like this more than once. 

    • jOtMe

      double snap!

  • Sens3365

    I’m sure you usually try to ignore some of your extreme critics, but I just want to let you know that for me, this article was awesome. I took it as that it is good to be a girl, especially now! “Girl” does not have to be associated with “child”. Rather than diverting women’s progress, you’re advancing it, because girls are women too and it is important that they see themselves as just as empowering as “us older women”. Embrace your inner-girl and profess just how awesome we really are!

  • Mariangela

    20-something, dog-walking, hipster girls who
    spend lots of money on clothes from J.Crew and hours planning  outfits to wear to
    brunch, who have no regrets about their useless graduate degrees in
    media studies, scare the shit out of me.

    • Daily TC Reader

      hey hey hey! get scared elsewhere. we are taking over.

    • Anonymous

      I have lots of regrets about my useless degree but I enjoyed getting it. College isn’t always about securing a financial future. It is an opportunity to study things you are interested in. I would rather spend my money on a decent apartment and clothes I like than have it sitting in a savings account. I find it depressing when I work really hard and don’t get to enjoy the reward. I do agree the dog-walking is kind of lame. And hipsters don’t wear J.Crew.

  • Anonymous

    I related to this and thought it was good :)

  • TRES

    So when are we going to mention the fact that making shows about the other half of the population is Hollywood’s slow maturation into common sense and THERE ARE STILL NO good shows with people of color?

  • MP9090909

    Well, I’d take a girl like this over the other type that refer to themselves as “betches.”

  • OT

    someone would’ve been stoked on the Mary Tyler Moore show
    Rhoda too and Cagney and Lacey and Three’s Company and and and

  • LA

    You guys need an editor. Its/it’s mistake? JV.

  • No

    i just thought of another group of people that should have been included in the “check your privilege” piece…i mean god damn. 

    there is nothing remotely interesting about being a quirky 20-something, city-dwelling white girl, at this point you all are a dime a dozen. if anything, this recent crop of shitty tv shows only prove that. frankly i wish the “plight” of a more deserving group of people had the mainstream backing that this group has. if i have to read another article about how “OMG I KNOW, RIGHT?!” your life is, i might strangle one of you corny ass broads. 

    • MarieNat

      Do you write for a living? If not, you effin’ should.  And I mean it.

    • jOtMe


  • Med

    Straight white rich male fantasies. That’s all TV is. These shows about “women” are entirely made by men. There are some women writers, but men have the ultimate authority about the show. It reflects their values and fantasies…not womens. TV is all about straight white male fantasies. Full stop.

    • Anonymous

      That is crap. The new show Girls that premieres in a couple weeks is about women and is written by Lena Dunham. She wanted to create a show that accurately depicted our generation and the things we’re dealing with. It is breaking away from the conventional idea of the 20-something woman and focused on the real struggles instead of shopping and clubbing. It looks awesome.

  • Anonymous

    The characters on these shows make me feel alienated.

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