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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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Acculturated editor and Millennial Emily Esfahani Smith wrote about Girls for the Washington Times in April:

Like other Apatow creations (the feature film hits “Bridesmaids,” “Knocked-Up”), “Girls” is about how sex and immaturity collide in the early years of our adult lives. “I like to show people struggle and try to figure out who they are,” Mr. Apatow recently told The Hollywood Reporter.

There’s plenty of struggle in “Girls.” Hannah (Miss Dunham) is an aspiring writer. The only problem is, she hasn’t been published; she’s been fired from her non-paying internship; and she’s out of money because her parents, who are academics, won’t support her any longer.Adam, the actor-hipster she’s been hooking up with, won’t text her, let alone call her, and she just found out that her ex-boyfriend, whom she dated for two years in college, is gay.

“You couldn’t pay me to be 24 again,” Hannah’s gynecologist tells her.

“Well, they’re not paying me at all,” Hannah responds.

A few days later, the gyno calls to tell Hannah that she has a sexually transmitted disease, HPV. Don’t worry, a friend assures her, “all adventurous women have HPV.”

Hannah’s three close friends have problems of their own. Marnie (Allison Williams), Hannah’s best friend and roommate, has fallen out of love with her boyfriend of four years, Charlie. Jessa (Jemima Kirke), a sexual and emotional free-spirit, misses her own appointment at the abortion clinic, conveniently miscarrying the day-of while she’s hooking up with another guy. And Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet), a twenty-two-year-old virgin, may be naive, but she’s wise enough to know that “if a man doesn’t take you on a date, he’s not interested” and “sex from behind is degrading — point blank.”

“Girls” will inevitably be compared to another HBO show about young women, “Sex and the City” (1998-2004). But “Girls” is less an extension of “Sex and the City” than it is a response to it — a tacit and even subversive acknowledgement that the sex lives of young post-feminist women are bleak.

You couldn’t pay me to be 24 again.”

In the comments to the previous posts on the Girls Vs Women debate I’ve tried to refocus the conversation. Here’s an edited exchange with several commenters and PJM’s Charlie Martin on Dr. Helen’s post. There are multiple issues in play here and one of them is generational.

Mike:

I’m attracted to women of lots of different ages, both by their looks and their personality. But is their something wrong with finding a beautiful 17 or 18 year old girl hot or sexy? I agree with Helen, it’s completely normal.

June 17, 2012 – 10:06 am 

Dave Swindle

“Normal” does not equal Good.

Which is more normal? A man who wants to sleep with a bunch of young, beautiful women or a man who wants to marry and respect one woman? Which standard should we advocate for in our culture?

June 17, 2012 – 10:18 am

Oligonicella:

“A man who wants to sleep with a bunch of young, beautiful women or a man who wants to marry and respect one woman?”

Wow. How about, the first is a fantasy, not a plan; and the second is a plan and therefore in no way incompatible with said fantasy.

“Which standard should we advocate for in our culture?”

The standard of attempting at all turns to stay out of people’s thoughts and actions that in no way interfere with your life.

June 17, 2012 – 6:44 pm 

Dave Swindle:

“The standard of attempting at all turns to stay out of people’s thoughts and actions that in no way interfere with your life.”

This issue does interfere with my life. If it didn’t, I wouldn’t write about it.

June 17, 2012 – 7:01 pm

Charlie Martin:

Okay, I’ll bite: how does what other people think when they look at pictures of yet other people, none of whom you know, interfere with your life?

June 17, 2012 – 7:35 pm  

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