Unquestionably, when people look back at the timeless artistic jewels of our generation, much attention will understandably be paid to the “Anaconda” video as well as the techno remix of “A Potato Flew Around My Room.” Truthfully speaking, I believe these endeavors are the result of us collectively reaching the climax of our creative prowess.
I don’t usually like to speak in black and white terms (literally), but in my formative years I shared the same experiences of most late 80s/early 90s black kids. Before the terrifying mobile ghoul approached my doorstep each morning (aka the school bus) my disappointment at having to go to school was briefly alleviated by reruns of The Jamie Foxx Show, The Wayans Brothers, Fresh Prince, and Martin. AKA, classic black television. But steadily, I came to the shocking conclusion that television shows occupied with mostly Caucasian casts were entertaining too. I could go on and on, but the early, terribly awkward mistakes of my interactions with women were alleviated by closely studying the even more awkward excursions on Louie. When the pangs of Breaking Bad bit into my flesh, I completely disengaged myself from civilization and sacrificed a general sense of hygiene in multiple Netflix viewings, culminating when Gus’ head got blown off and I suffered a temporary existential crisis. Similarly, the tease-happy strategy of Homeland keeps me equally parts furious and excited– a show that takes the technique of the cliffhanger to new heights. Blue balls never felt so good.
Freed from the slave mentality of feeling beholden to a certain racial “culture,” I undertook the greatest challenge of my life when I sat down for the first time and watched a show called Girls. In the past, the only shows with all-women casts that interested me were the product of the former film school slackers employed by Skinemax. I needed to know what I was getting myself into, and how many bottles of lube (if any) were required. Before I went on a deep dive into this terrifying, potentially soul-sucking abyss, I did a little research first. From what I gathered of creator Lena Dunham, she seemed like a person to avoid at all costs, even if just encountering her through the television screen. I’ve decided there’s two types of feminists in this world— the rational ones who have a strong case against employers that discriminate against them only because they have tits (and tend to be smarter than men in most cases, just being honest). But then there are the others…you know, the all-men-are-reincarnations-of the devil posturing as humans type, like the characters on Portlandia running the Women and Women First store. But then I saw that the executive producer was none other than Judd Apatow. If you didn’t know, Apatow has been involved in some of the simultaneously hilarious and anti-feminist films of our generation. There is no one in the history of the world who can spin a juvenile fart joke like Apatow and make it funny every time. He is directly responsible for some of the most entertaining moments of my life. In the only worthwhile film of her career, Knocked Up, Karen Heigel commented that she was offended by the juvenile nature of the film. So given the unlikely, polar opposite pairing of Dunham and Apatow, how could one not be intrigued at the very least.
I began with the pilot.
Immediately I fell in love. The first scene is about Hannah Horvath (Dunham) arguing with her parents because they are refusing to support her financially anymore. I remember the slow, arduous process when my mother cut the leash, leaving me with the initially impossible task of paying my own bills. At that point, Facebook and other things I invested a lot of time in the past became obsolete. Most of my time was spent thinking about how I was going to pay for my rent, car payment, cell phone bill and still afford to eat that week on a meager minimum wage salary. I’m sure there was a spike in the stock of the respective companies who make Hot Pockets, Lean Cuisine, Pringles, and Ramen Noodles. Worse, as well documented on this site, I have a disease that revolves around a severe addiction to flashy sneakers. I remember sacrificing food so that I could afford to overspend on a pair of Air Jordans or Kobe Systems that had been occupying my dreams. When I came across Girls, without much previous knowledge, I expected 30 long minutes about tampons, purses, Uggs, bed comforters, and hairspray. Boy was I wrong (see what I did there?). Guys really are clueless when it comes to women, I apologize for our sect.
For 20 somethings like myself, Girls is a realistic depiction of what it’s like to come of age during these crazy times. Of course, the main characters are trust fund babies in the classic sense of the term. Lena Dunham is the daughter of Laurie Simmons, a famous artist and photographer. Allison Williams (Marnie) is Brian Williams’ daughter, one of the most famous on-air journalists of the last decade. Jemima Kirke (Jessa) is the daughter of the former drummer for Bad Company and Free. Last but not least, Zosia Mamet is none other than David Mamet’s daughter. If you are a nerd like me, that’s kinda a big deal.
Yes, shows like Entourage are great for escapism, and the hilarious tirades of Jeremy Piven, but at the end of the day, Mark Walberg’s fictional life has nothing to do with my own (as much as I’d like to be a famous actor who sleeps with beautiful women every night). However, struggling to make sense of the world while fresh-faced out of college is something that is very relevant and graspable, and this is the thematic territory in which Girls explores. In the third episode of the season, entitled “All Adventurous Women Do,” Hannah learns that she has contracted a sexual disease— HPV. After feeling pretty shitty about contracting a STD, albeit a pretty harmless ones, she comes to accept it as part of her identity, and eventually comes to the very real conclusion that all adventurous women have HPV. The final scene of the episode concludes with a dance session to Robyn’s “Dancing On My Own,” a song that everyone loves. (On a side note, never trust a man or woman who says they don’t like “Dancing On My Own.” If they are willing to lie about something so frivolous, they can’t be trusted with anything).
In terms of dialogue, Dunham was clearly influenced by Woody Allen (although she has yet to oust herself as a child molester, even though she recently publicly disclosed a story about how during her childhood she used to masturbate while stuffing rocks into her cousin’s vagina). In her defense, after the first time I saw Scarlett Johansen and Penelope Cruz make out in Allen’s Vicky Christina Barcelona, my own sexual thoughts reached peak levels, and my head (both, mind you) damn near exploded. TMI? Possibly, but the beauty of Girls is that it goes beyond the surface and TMI is commonly brought to the forefront.
Hannah’s off and on again relationship with Adam (Adam Driver) is one of the main story lines, and most intriguing I might add. For lack of a better word, Adam is pretty weird, a self-described sexual pervert and far from a feminist, but for some reason Hannah is drawn to him. In real life, relationships that don’t seem to make sense on paper happen all the time, and the dynamic between the two goes beyond the cutesy relationship “drama” that prime time shows regularly engage. I mean, in all seriousness, how many shows can we watch where a Homer Simpson-like buffoon of a husband forgets his anniversary and spends the entirety of the episode trying to rectify the situation. No. A much more intriguing story line is when your girlfriend accidentally causes you to get run over with a car, which inevitably causes you both to break up, and then said girlfriend has a 2 second sexual encounter with a teenager in the woods as part of a wild exploratory phase. Stick with Sheldon (objectively the worst character in the history of the world). I’ll stick with my ladies.
But the men on the show are equally entertaining, if not moreso. In addition to Adam, there is Ray (Alex Karpovsky). Karpovsky has written and directed a few great films like Supporting Characters and Red Flag. In terms of personality, he is the closest thing we have to Woody Allen. His dry delivery coupled with his ass-hole demeanor is absolutely hilarious. The character of Ray just goes to show you how awesome men are. Even females needs men to make the show compelling. We clearly win the gender battle.
(Most people who read my blog are aware of the times when I’m kidding, but recent social media mishaps have made me extra cautious. Long story short, while being bored at work and sifting through facebook, I stumbled on one of those elite daily bullshit articles. It was called “Everything Girls Must Stop Doing” or something like that. Somehow, I butt-posted the article onto to my Facebook. Even though I’ll be the first person to admit that I’m a nerd that likes to read, that particular article doesn’t interest me in the slightest. There are plenty of things I wish girls as a whole would stop doing, but with women the good far outweighs the nitpicky negatives. The shit I received from my PR team was unreal, and I was even in talks to go on Ellen so I could explain myself and gain a shred of street cred back, and save the brand I had previously worked so hard to establish. The stock in #teamkellan naturally plummeted, and at one point we almost had to go private. But along with my TK cohort Robert A. Pugh (commonly referred to as The Reverend or Oweli) we implemented a pretty effective strategy to get things back on track again. Many long nights were spent in the process, but I’m happy to report today that TK is as strong as its ever been. Buy now. #TeamKellanForLife.)
One of the greatest things about Girls is how realistically the show examines the concept of friendship. Instead of one of those shows (like Friends) where a bunch of best buds live in an overpriced apartment in New York and are always around each other, the characters of Girls have to deal with the fact that as they grow older, they grow further apart. This is natural, and I’m sure you’re currently experiencing the same thing in your life if you are in your post-college phase. As much as I would love to spend every minute with my top amigos from high school and spend the day gorging on bullshit talk and tacos, it’s just not feasible when one is pursuing their career objectives. This is a part of life, and thank God for smartphones that temporarily alleviate the problem.
The biggest, dumbest invective tossed at Girls is it’s lack of minority characters. In interviews, Dunham has explained that when she decided on the four main characters (Hannah, Marnie, Shoshanna, and Jessa) she wanted to create diverse characters that were all an extension of her life in some way. The critics are completely wrong about this. In order to satisfy the critics, a lot of showrunners incorporate token black characters that add nothing whatsoever to the narrative other than the fact that they sufficiently satisfy the “black quota.” That’s in most shows, Desmond the bartender gets 10 seconds of screen-time every episode so that the critics can back the fuck off. Leave Desmond alone, and stop using him as bait for an offensive onslaught about potential criticism from critics who get paid to nitpick great television.
And besides, who needs Desmond (or some other stereotypical “black” name that starts with a “D”) when you have characters like Shoshanna? She is most definitely my favorite character on the show, and her rapid way of speaking puts the cast of Gilmore Girls and Aaron Sorkin to shame. I either slept through or skipped too many of my writing classes to properly explain why I love Shos’ so much, but hopefully these videos will give you a better understanding. Simply put, she’s hilarious.
Like it or not, Dunham is one of the premiere writers of our generation. I wouldn’t necessarily call her Bob Dylan, but she knows our struggles and is great at conveying them in an entertaining fashion on Sunday nights. According to her, “Positive, healthy, loving relationships in your twenties… I don’t know if anyone would disagree with it: I think they’re the exception, not the norm. People are either playing house really aggressively because they’re scared of what an uncertain time it is, or they’re avoiding commitment altogether.”
This article stemmed from a late night conversation I had with one of my buddies about our mutual admiration for the show and our hesitance to admit it. Said buddy loves to listen to hardcore gangsta rap, and that’s mostly what we end up talking about. But after discussing our love affair with True Detective, The Sopranos (the greatest show of all time), The Wire, and other classic HBO television, we ventured into talk about Girls. He shared my sentiments, and now I am free. I have a penis, but I will be ready with Ben and Jerrys in hand, slippers on feet, and over-sized sweatpants when Season Four of Girls premieres this year. There is no shame in my game.
After all, all adventurous men love girls.