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Why You Shouldn’t Avoid Lena Dunham and HBO’s Girls

And why I've steered clear of the show even though John Podhoretz is probably right to praise it.

by
Dave Swindle

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June 19, 2012 - 1:30 pm
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Commentary’s John Podhoretz with an enthusiastic write-up of HBO’s Girls at The Weekly Standard:

HBO’s much-discussed new series Girls is just concluding its first season, and it’s extraordinary. Girls offers the most interesting and original televised portrait of upper-middle-class American angst since thirty-something went off the air in 1991.

Like thirtysomething, it is simultaneously an infuriatingly self-referential thumbsucker and an extraordinarily intelligent dissection of infuriatingly self-referential thumbsucking. But it is, thankfully, far more the latter than the former. And it is one of the most prodigious media stunts since the heyday of the very young Orson Welles, given that it is largely the work of a 26-year-old who created it, wrote most of the episodes, directed a few of them, and stars in it to boot.

Her name is Lena Dunham, and two years ago she did the same triple duty on a do-it-yourself movie called Tiny Furniture that I actively disliked because it was purely a self-referential thumbsuck. Something good happened to Dunham in the interim between the movie and the TV series, because Girls takes the world of Tiny Furniture—post-collegiate types with no marketable skills wandering aimlessly around New York City—and gives it heft and shape and dimension.

It’s often very funny, and given that each episode runs a half-hour, I guess you’d call Girls a sitcom. But it really comes across more like a loosely linked collection of Ann Beattie stories updated from the post-1960s anomie of Beattie’s characters to the media-soaked seen-it-all world-weariness of Generation Zynga.

Read the whole thing. And let’s consider this post the conclusion of the Girls vs Women and Boys vs Men discourse for now. (Though don’t be surprised if more articles on the subject of growing up show up at PJ Lifestyle. It’s one of Kathy Shaidle’s specialties.)

Seeing the promotions for Girls, two impressions emerged:

1. Looks like they nailed the Millennial “post-collegiate types with no marketable skills wandering aimlessly.”

2. Therefore, I have no interest in watching it right now.

Just the previews alone reminded me of myself and too many people I’ve known over the last decade who were in the same limbo zone in life: just emerging out into the “real world” and wobbling between being a girl and a woman, a boy and a man, struggling to find their path to a happy, satisfying life of meaning, worth, and dignity.

With only so many entertainment hours in the day, why spend them being reminded of all the people I care about who were making themselves miserable by refusing to grow up?

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