Why Girls is the most authentic show on TV: Season 1 Review

I finally caught up on the full season 1 of Girls this week. Like most of the world, I started off hating it; a lot darker and less relatable than I expected. I gave it a shot, however, seeing that Lena Dunham achieved my life dream before I ever will.

The fact that it is a half hour dark comedy speaks to time pressed Gen Y; even the format of the show is innovative and tuned to its demographic.

If you are a Girls virgin, here is what you need to know: Aspiring writer Hannah gets financially cut off from her parents, who had previously funded her life in Brooklyn, New York. Left to her own devices, she and her friends navigate their twenties, “one mistake at a time”.  Based loosely on Sex and the City, with a focus on careers, friendships and growing up, we meet Shoshanna (a naive virgin), Marnie (Miss Perfect) and Jessa (rebellious bohemian nomad). SPOILER ALERT AHEAD!

15 Plot Points that make Girls the most Authentic Show on TV (at least for Gen Y)

  1. The normal looking main character: for once we see an average woman on TV. Not only is she chunky, but her face is pretty basic too (unlike Plus Size model types). She seems to purposely avoid makeup and wear unflattering clothing (or no clothing) to hit you in the face with this statement. For the record, I do find Lena attractive, especially her real world appearances.
  2. The portrayal of an only child: I have never seen this character trait displayed so prominently in the plot before. Being an only child really does colour a personality (I would know). PS the main character in my screenplay is also an only child.
  3. Money discussions: People don’t seem to discuss financial difficulties much in real life or on TV. Hannah’s financial strife really drove a major story arc.
  4. A sense of entitlement: I admit that Gen Y is a bit more coddled than generations past. We believe in dreams and doing what we love and we want it now.  Girls puts this belief system center stage.
  5. Being late for your own abortion: a really unique and unexpected ending to the episode where Jessa discovers she is pregnant and fails to show up at the clinic. PS unexpected pregnancy is a Top 5 fear of mine.
  6. Gross Sex: Hannah’s parents and Hannah herself get involved in some eye brow raising sex scenes. I felt like a fly on the wall (do people really do that?) and we rarely see old people f*cking.
  7. Marnie’s character: not only because she is me (ha) but because she is Charlotte amplified: risk averse, tightly wound, beautiful, responsible and unhappy.
  8. Marnie masturbation at work: a brave and unexpected portrayal of something that happens.
  9. The end of Marnie’s relationship: The 4 or 5 year mark in a relationship is critical, especially when you start dating young. Marnie and Charlie were going through the motions, but she wasn’t committed to ending things. In real life, relationships can just run out of steam – they aren’t always broken by cheating, distance, family drama, drug abuse etc. I could relate to this portrayal.
  10. The Break Up After Math: We get to see Marnie vulnerable: she looks gross, pities herself and stalks Charlie on facebook (for once social media is mentioned/shown on TV). She is shocked to learn that he has moved on after 2 short weeks. She shares this ludicrous finding with anyone who will listen.
  11. Texting: how often do you see characters checking their cell phones for texts? What’s that you say, never? Such a simple way to portray the realities of 20 something life.
  12. Impromptu dance party: when Marnie and Hannah dance together at the end of an episode, my heart sang. Us Girls really do randomly dance around a room sometimes (light and fun).
  13. Real Girl Shit: Female friendships can be marred by resentment and jealousy that build up over time, slowly poisoning the bond. Marnie talked shit behind Hannah’s back until she exploded, which led to hurtful insults and assessments.  We’ve all lost a friend the hard way and this break up felt worse than Marnie and Charlie.
  14. Comparison / Passive Aggressive Dialogue: I loved the opening scene of Episode 9, where Hannah and her former classmate (turned famous author) exchange passive aggressive dialogue. It is so difficult watching someone else live your dream, especially when they seem less deserving. In the age of facebook, it is easier than ever to feel like shit about yourself.
  15. Adam and Hannah: I love and hate their dynamic.  His personality is pretty bizarre and complex but I suppose it is possible for someone like him to exist. I hated seeing Hannah settle for less than she deserved and acting the fool. That being said, I liked watching them evolve throughout the whole season; normally TV dating lasts a handful of episodes and doesn’t seem so real.
The cast of HBO series Girls

As Enrqiue says: “let me be your (writer)”.

Now onto the…

8 Plot Points that Hampered Girls Season 1 Ability to Deliver a Fully Honest Story

  1. Jessa: seems too wooden and unreal with her too cool for school personality and back story. A spark of realness shone through in Episode 8, when she bonded with Marnie for the first time.
  2. Shoshanna: why is she treated like an accessory? She is so good! Why is her only goal to have sex? What about her other ambitions? Why are Hannah and Marnie friends with her, beyond her relation to Jessa? She seems too one dimensional.
  3. Hannah’s job interview: she made a rapist joke about her interviewer in the interview. I know the show is about making mistakes but sometimes it seems too heavy handed.
  4. The crack party: it seemed extreme and out of character for Shoshanna to randomly smoke someone else’s crack at the warehouse party. On a side note, the whole subject of trying crack was treated very lightly.
  5. Jessa’s Wedding: I know she is impulsive and all but a wedding after two weeks? Yay for Chris O’Dowd.
  6. Marnie’s final kiss: I didn’t buy Marnie’s attraction to the wedding officiant. Not just because of how he looked…maybe she had too much champagne, felt weird seeing Charlie and lonely, but still…
  7. Does everyone in this series have to be white and Jewish? Just wondering…it is New York after all.

I am looking forward to Season 2 – each episode is like a box of chocolates: you never know what you are going to get. And every episode is painted with a pulsing energy that makes it impossible to turn away.

So tell me, what did you think about Girls? Will you watch Season 2?

One Response to Why Girls is the most authentic show on TV: Season 1 Review

  1. Simone says:

    I love your thorough review of GIRLS!!

    I really love the show. Although it doesn’t really mirror my life as a 30-something, so many of the situations reminded me of things that happened to me, or friends, or my sister & her friends (who are in their mid-20’s)

    It’s actually refreshing to see bad sex portrayed on TV. Sex isn’t always glamorous, pretty or mutually satisfying, as is often portrayed on TV. It’s nice to see something more realistic, even if it’s totally awkward to watch.

    I really like Shoshanna’s character too. I’m hoping that maybe they are just getting started with her and that she’ll get more air time in season 2.

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