Looking Back On Season One Of Girls

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

Ryan O'Connell

I'm a brat.


More From Thought Catalog

  • kins

    Girls is like Thought Catalog if it were a series.

    • SrySheRuinedYrPerfectAbortion

      I thought that as soon as I heard there was a show called “Girls” I love it. It is very funny in a way that makes you feel bad for laughing but good for understanding. And yes i am a twenty something

    • Girls Catalog

      I seriously imagine Hannah’s writing to be vaguely like Thougth Catalog’s posts. I seriously do.

  • http://twitter.com/jesshett jesshett (@jesshett)

    damn it Ryan, the second to last paragraph defines my life from 2010-2012! the moment I realized I was using the jerk who used me for “life experience” is the moment I kicked your own ass, grew up & (now at least attempting) to find someone better.

    I could care less about all the cristicism because my friends & I are just so happy someone is telling our story, because I’m far too ADD to sit down & write it myself.

  • http://twitter.com/msjwatt J.Watt (@msjwatt)

    This show only tells some people’s stories and I guess that’s fine because only some people watch it.

    • martina

      This is probably the best way to describe feelings towars this show. Like any other show, its geared toward a very specific audience and they seem to enjoy it.

    • http://asdf wadendeer

      A show has to be about you or you’re devastated? That must be why no one reads the Diary of Anne Frank.

  • Joe

    “As the season progressed, the criticism stopped. I’m not sure why this is.”

    That was because the first couple episodes kinda’ sucked (they did – accept it), but the rest of the season was pretty good, and a drastic improvement over those initial episodes.

    • lauren

      exactly. The two first episodes were awfully bad. And the sex scenes seriously…

  • http://thefracturedpanorama.wordpress.com thefracturedpanorama

    Reblogged this on thefracturedpanorama.

  • http://punkmeetspink.wordpress.com Mallorie

    totally love girls too, but of course, as a blogger, i can’t help but pick it apart. yours is better than mine Ryan


  • http://twitter.com/AliPants Nosilla Remarc (@AliPants)

    This was a perfect description of why Girls is great.

  • http://theonceandfuturecoffeeaddict.wordpress.com theonceandfuturecoffeeaddict

    I watched the first three episodes. It’s slow going, and not a show I immediately latched onto like Community. But reading this made me want to go ahead and finish out the season. Also Lena Dunham’s Twitter is amazing.

  • Ryan

    Perfectly said.

  • http://hellothereohio.wordpress.com/2012/06/11/on-thought-catalogs-ryan-oconnell/ On Thought Catalog’s Ryan O’Connell. « hellothereohio

    […] On Thought Catalog’s Ryan O’Connell. […]

  • http://veronam.tumblr.com Verona

    Yeah it’s so annoying to have to listen to people whine about the fact that it portrays those pesky ethnic minorities in stereotypical ways. God, no one cares. I mean HELLO it shows a relationship where neither party is two-dimensional. That. Is. Revolutionary.

    When a show is heralded as ‘defining a generation’ I don’t expect it to be another show about white females where ethnic minorities are ‘beweaveable’/ leering at white women on the street/ exhibiting the stereotypical ‘smart’ Asian stereotype. Sorry if, as an educated black person, I find being reduced to lone oddities offensive. It’s great that the show manages to display their white characters with many dimensions but that does not excuse it’s reiteration of limiting stereotypes of ethnic minorities.

    I’m going to be honest, unless you are from an ethnic minority background you cannot understand how this feels. At best, you can empathise. Clearly you struggle to do that.

    • MM

      It sucks that this show doesn’t have more minorities but Lena Dunham says she will put in more minority characters and I believe in her.

      I am a black young woman and I love the show. I think it’s realistic and interesting and Idenify sometimes with the characters. I watch this show as entertainment and (some for what is to come in my liberal college educated future), but not because I always want to see myself. If someone tells my story that is great, but I watch the show because its funny and enlightening. plain and simple.

    • http://asdf wadendeer

      Are you done?

  • Marc


  • katrina

    I love this show. it’s really quite refreshing to watch. I love all the characters especially shoshanna. such a funny show!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/brandonwhumphries Brandon Humphries

    I’m kinda on a relationship (ones that are super dramatic and make you feel things) focused show hiatus. It’s just a constant reminder of singledom for me and I go into a shame spiral. And I never cared for Sex and the City (too NY obsessed). Kinda tired of straight relationships too. Nothing personal straight people, your just getting boring to watch.

    I say this but just marathoned GCB so I’m a hipocrit. Ignore me.

  • http://janetmackenziesmith.com Janet Mackenzie Smith

    As a “real Hannah”, I never expected the show to be factually accurate, but I did hope for more emotional realism. Check out my Dear John Letter for Lena Dunham: http://janetmackenziesmith.com/2012/06/14/dear-john-letter-for-lena-dunham/

  • http://thoughtcatalog.com/2012/5000-word-unedited-interview-with-tao-lin/ 5,000+ Word Unedited Interview With Tao Lin | Thought Catalog

    […] TC: OK. Do you watch the show Girls? […]

  • http://thoughtcatalog.com/2012/bipolar-playlist-pairings-for-if-youre-crazy-or-just-feel-like-it/ Bipolar Playlist Pairings For If You’re Crazy (Or Just Feel Like It) | Thought Catalog

    […] Dunham already used this song brilliantly on Girls, but it’s no reason you can’t use it to simultaneously wallow in your own self-pity and […]

  • http://www.itmakesmestronger.com/2012/09/bipolar-playlist-pairings-for-if-you%e2%80%99re-crazy-or-just-feel-like-it/ Only L<3Ve @ ItMakesMeStronger.com

    […] Dunham already used this song brilliantly on Girls, but it’s no reason you can’t use it to simultaneously wallow in your own self-pity and […]

  • http://thoughtcatalog.com/2012/29-things-that-make-20-somethings-happy/ 29 Things That Make 20-Somethings Happy | Thought Catalog

    […] 15. Finding a person who fits this description: “I just want someone who wants to hang out all the time and thinks I’m the best person i… […]

  • http://www.itmakesmestronger.com/2012/10/29-things-that-make-20-somethings-happy-2/ Only L<3Ve @ ItMakesMeStronger.com

    […] 15. Finding a person who fits this description: “I just want someone who wants to hang out all the time and thinks I’m the best person i… […]

  • http://thoughtcatalog.com/2012/21-signs-youre-a-basic-bitch/ 21 Signs You’re A Basic B*tch | Thought Catalog

    […] You think the characters on Girls are “weird’ and […]

  • http://www.itmakesmestronger.com/2012/11/21-signs-you%e2%80%99re-a-basic-btch/ Only L<3Ve @ ItMakesMeStronger.com

    […] You think the characters on Girls are “weird’ and […]

  • http://thoughtcatalog.com/2012/dont-pretend-that-youre-not-excited-for-season-two-of-girls/ Don’t Pretend That You’re Not Excited For Season Two Of Girls | Thought Catalog

    […] feel so much second-hand embarrassment for people who feel the need to justify why they like Girls, as if it’s an actually terrible show like Two And A Half Men or Small Wonder (the sitcom […]

  • http://www.itmakesmestronger.com/2012/11/don%e2%80%99t-pretend-that-you%e2%80%99re-not-excited-for-season-two-of-girls/ Only L<3Ve @ ItMakesMeStronger.com

    […] feel so much second-hand embarrassment for people who feel the need to justify why they like Girls, as if it’s an actually terrible show like Two And A Half Men or Small Wonder (the sitcom […]

  • http://thoughtcatalog.com/2012/20-things-we-need-to-stop-talking-about-in-2013/ 20 Things We Need To Stop Talking About In 2013 | Thought Catalog

    […] I see that promo poster one more time I’m going to flip out. I will actually burn down all of New York City and […]

blog comments powered by Disqus