We’ve all been in our early twenties. You’re possibly still in your early twenties. If so, I’m terribly sorry as it really is an awful time. You probably don’t have any money, almost certainly live in a shed with twelve other people and – if you went to University- you’ve just discovered that your expensive degree in Comparative Literature is less useful than a basic food hygiene certificate.
There’s nothing likeable about those post-University wilderness years, and there’s nothing likeable about Girls either.
In the US it’s been praised for being edgy because the central character Hannah (show creator Lena Dunham) isn’t stick thin or traditionally pretty. This seems to be causing huge waves over there, which is a bit baffling as here in the UK we’re regularly treated to real looking, talented women every time we turn on the television. Dawn French, Jessica Hynes, Jo Brand…the list is endless.
Take away the surprise of seeing an average looking young woman doing normal twenty-something things, like getting cut off by her parents and then very quickly becoming an unemployed ‘writer’ (think Daisy from Spaced but without the charm) and all you’re left with is a programme about four self-obsessed, vacant young people with no chemistry whatsoever.
It’s simply impossible to imagine that any of the characters would be friends in real life. Hannah’s a bit of a mess, her gallery assistant flatmate Marnie is flawless and uptight; Jessa is a posh British girl with a relaxed attitude to sex and her cousin Shoshanna is a dizzy Jewish virgin who wears Juicy Couture tracksuits and a permanently puzzled expression.
The only thing they have in common is a staggering sense of entitlement: summed up in Hannah’s drugged- up request that her parents support her to the tune of $1100 a month so she can write her ‘memoirs’.
People have compared Girls to Sex and the City because it’s about four women, is set in New York and regularly features eye wateringly graphic sex scenes. But that comparison isn’t fair at all: Sex and the City depicted empowering, intelligent and cheerfully smutty adult relationships, not unhappy girls in cartoon friendships who have resigned themselves to terrible, depressing and/or dull sex with awful men.
At one point Hannah tells her gynaecologist that she hopes that her boyfriend gave her AIDS, as then she’d have a genuine reason to be annoyed with him. It’s meant to be funny and show what a ditsy hypochondriac she is, but just sounds sad, empty and delusional- like watching a TV dramatization of a particularly irritating Twitter account.
Yes, you could argue that this makes it gritty and real, that it’s Sex and the City for the recession hit youth of today. If so, did anyone ask all other twenty-somethings if they wanted Hannah and her friends to be the voice of their generation? I certainly wouldn’t want Lena Dunham speaking for me.
It remains to be seen if Girls can forge ahead and develop the self-obsessed, awful characters to the point anyone actually cares about what happens to them. But if not, you can buy the Sex and the City box set for a fairly reasonable price on Amazon.