I decided to watch the recently released HBO series Girls, expecting it to be full of ridiculous stereotypes of young women whose lives revolve around shoe-shopping, but was pleasantly surprised to find this not be the case. Instead Girls is a show about some Girls who are privileged, entitled, hip, irresponsible and generally unlikable, who supposedly we’re meant to feel sympathetic towards because they don’t get a job after they made a date rape joke in the interview. The only character on this show I even slightly feel pity for is the one that is by definition ‘bitchy and a control-freak’, as she’s the only one that seems to have even the slightest bit of common-sense.
This does not, however, necessary mean that they are not some-what realistic and arguably relatable. The show’s tag line is after all ‘Living The Dream, One Mistake At A Time’, and make mistakes they do. From getting pregnant to missing their abortion appointment because they’re hooking up with a guy they’ve just met – we’ve all done stuff like that, right?
And they get naked a lot. Like, around each other. They shower together. Have meaningful conversations whilst one of them is on the loo. One of the opening scenes is two of the girls snuggling together in bed. I honestly had a hard time understanding at first that Girls wasn’t a show about lesbians. But maybe this is my problem, as a gay woman. I don’t completely understand the concept of platonic friends being that comfortable and close with one another. Is this something straight girls do often?
And here is where I recognise another problem I have with this show Girls. This is a show about heterosexual women. I don’t have a problem with this of course, if I did I’d only watch The L Word, Lip Service, and Sugar Rush – Which are all awful shows. Shows purely created for lesbians to watch and say ‘Oh yeah, I’ve totally done that’, and for the rest of the world to watch and see ‘how the other half live’. And it’s a bunch of crap. Just because it’s full of some cliches and exaggerations of situations that may or may not occur in this minorities’ life, doesn’t mean it’s an accurate representation. You know what I mean? But that’s what Girls is doing – it’s the heterosexual version of The L Word. So there’s story lines involving pregnancy and abortions, and being treated like crap by men, smear tests, and other things involving having a vagina, you know. Oh, and making out with girls. I mean properly making out, for several minutes – coz straight girls do that all the time. I don’t mean to point out the obvious here but – Isn’t that kind of sending out the wrong message? That heterosexual women occasionally and spontaneously makeout with each other, just for fun? No, ok I see, sorry, it was totally cool, coz the guy wasn’t getting in on it, and it was all awkward and totally funny… Yeah I get it…
These girls are not gay, bisexual, or bi-curious. They are just kissing. Which is fine. But, this is how they’re representing exclusively straight, young women. Am I the only one that finds this strange?
The only reason I will continue to watch the show is because I’m convinced that the show is subtly mocking these characters. After all its a show about a generation of young people suffering because they are unable to ‘live the life they want’, i.e. have successful careers doing something they’re interested in, or creating ‘art’ whilst living in stylish inner city apartments paid by their parents – and you expect us to not think this is ironic?
To be fair this is a show that speaks to a generation whose understanding of the New York lifestyle is based on tv shows such as Sex In The City (that interesting enough, this show sets up a parallel with in the pilot episode with one of the characters trying to diagnose themselves with the varying characteristics of SITC‘s protagonists), a show with women in successful, satisfying careers, and power over their own lives, with little insight into how they got there. It can be assumed that Carrie and co. got financial help from their parents in the early stages of their working lives, or at least walked into well-paying jobs with promising futures with little difficulty.
We can see this show as a response to young people from well-off families coming out of university today with plans (not dreams, plans) of ‘making it’ in the big city, only to have their expectations stamped on by the reality of the current economy, which brings me to the conclusion that there would only be two reasons why someone would watch this show. A) If they are also part of this generation, and relate with the characters and realities of their situations whilst being self-aware that they too are probably as spoilt, entitled and irresponsible as the characters. Or, B) if they like laughing at the misfortunes of these types of people.
Being an English Lit and Drama graduate working part time at a supermarket and spending the rest of my time watching tv, half-arsedly blogging and complaining about why no one will employ me, I’d like to think I fit somewhere in both categories. I don’t, however, spend the money I don’t have for rent on drugs, or expect that I can at the age of 21 get away with dedicating my life to ‘art’ if I have send rent to pay.
Anyway, Girls. It’s a show about girls.