My Favorite Girls

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January 24, 2013 by NowhereButPop

by Andrew Doscas

I love Girls; it’s a wonderful show.  Besides perfectly capturing the mundanely insane nature of day-to-day life, and the scintillating wit of every character on the show, what makes Girls so great is that it’s a TV show that speaks directly to its target audience.  It doesn’t merely seek to entertain, Girls is a show that seeks to emote and resonate both with and for its audience.  It’s life captured on TV; it’s Lena Dunham saying “This is my life, but my life isn’t too different from yours”.

Ours is a generation lost.  And I don’t mean that in a noble and romantic fashion as was the case of the “Lost Generation” following WWI.  I mean that in a directionless and sheltered way.  The very first scene of the series captures his point perfectly where Hannah (the main character) has just found out that her parents have cut her off financially.  At 24 years old, Hannah knows what she wants to do with her life but doesn’t know how to get there; she has an apartment in New York City but doesn’t pay for it with her own money; she wants her independence but isn’t ready to pay the price for it.  This is our generation summed up perfectly.  We live in a world where anything is at our disposal, and everything is more accessible than it’s ever been.  The kicker though is that we are the first generation born into this; this is life as we know it.  While more opportunities are out there, everyone is afraid to take the first step because things have been made to accommodate us throughout or lives; as a result no one really knows what the first step is.

Girls has often been compared to Sex and the City, and while this is true to some extent there is one gargantuan difference.  Sex and the City is a show about women who have already “made it” so to speak.  It’s a show about confident women at the top of their game.  Girls is a show about girls trying to figure it all out and get to where the women in Sex and the City are.  It’s about girls trying to make themselves, while Sex and the City is a show about women who are already made.  Because they are still on the way to figuring themselves out, each of the main characters, both girls and guys alike have their one major flaw that they are completely unaware of.  Their major character flaw, or Achilles heel, is really what makes the show so compelling.  Yes, the show depicts close to real life situations and predicaments, but what sells the realism is the fact that the characters, while multi-faceted, are still explored and written in a way that can be boiled back down to their major flaw as people.  For however much the characters have grown and changes thus far, they are still held back by their own personal shortcoming.

Hannah, the main character, is exactly how everyone else thinks her to be: self-centered.  Hannah doesn’t see this for herself, which kinda proves my point, but I’ll continue nonetheless.  She always has to put her problems before anyone else’s even if they prove to be rather trivial.  In the most recent episode all Elijah, her roommate, had to do to make her stop pestering him with questions was to get her to talk about her own problems.  Prior to their breakup, the last major fight she had with Adam was over the fact that he was fed up with her only talking about herself and not wanting to learn more about him.  Her self-centered personality also lead to a rift between her and best friend Marnie again because of Hannah’s inability to think outside of herself.  Hannah couldn’t even grasp why Marnie was even mad at her.  Two episodes into season 2, Hannah seems more comfortable and up front about being self-centered because she thinks that now is the time to do so.  It doesn’t make her an unlikeable character however because she’s not selfish or cold.  She’s friendly and extroverted and insecure which makes her self-centered nature more understandable and relatable.

Marnie is the haughty, judgmental, and condescending hot chick.  Her flaw to put all three degrading adjectives together is that she has to have everything go her way and will ridicule and condescend on anything that doesn’t fit her notion of ideal.  In other words, she is too anal-retentive.  Marnie has to have supreme control of everything with a vice-like grip, and is too afraid to take her hands off the steering wheel.  She openly argues with Jessa over their conflicting views of life, and her lack of companionship with Shoshanna demonstrates a sense that Marnie would rather not be involved with Shoshanna’s immaturity.  Her ex-boyfriend, Charlie, would smother her with too much affection, but instead of breaking up with him on the spot, or trying to work things out, she would instead berate and chastise him.  When he breaks up with her, she can’t take that because it represents a shattering to the world she tried to create for herself, and to reinstate the status quo she got back together with him.  This was a stupid idea though, because mid-makeup-coitus she breaks up with him again.  Mid-hump, she breaks up with him.  Maybe I’m blowing things out of proportion……but mid-hump!  Of all the times to break up with a guy, mid-hump is without a doubt the last time to do it.[1]  Marnie can’t take change; in fact she reacts rather adversely to it, but by season 2 it seems that she is at least trying to do things a little more differently.

Jessa, the wildcard of the bunch tries too hard to be the free-spirit.  She so wants to be unconventional and do her own thing that it becomes a cliché.  She doesn’t realize that what she’s doing so have so many other people done; she’s not as original as she wants to be.  And it’s for this reason that she gets married.  Her talk with Kathryn, the women for whose kids Jessa babysat for had a heart to heart with her essentially telling her it’s time for Jessa to grow up.  Instead of doing so which would be the “conventional” thing to do, Jessa decides to do the opposite, or the last thing people would expect of her all to uphold that image of being the free-spirit.  So she gets married to some imbecile she hardly knows.  She’s someone who’s spent her life running away, and not traveling as she says.  She goes through the motions with any of the emotions.

The last of the main girls, Shoshanna, is also the youngest and as a result the most naïve and immature and irrational of them all.  However this isn’t really her main flaw, since it’s a product of her age and lack of life experiences.  Her flaw comes from her excessive emphasis on sex, specifically losing her virginity.  She thinks that having sex will somehow transform her from a girl into a woman, and that she needs to do it to fully grow up.  It was something that weighted more heavily on her than it should have.  As she said herself, her biggest baggage was the fact that she was still a virgin.  That in itself is a really immature and naïve thought to have and actually believe in.  She described herself as “the least virgin-y virgin” to a guy who she was trying to have sex with.  This prompted him to stop and leave.  Later on when she loses her virginity to Ray, she is once again caught up in the whole virgin thing and freaks out at him because she thought he didn’t like her because she was a virgin.

By season 2, if you thought Shoshanna would get over this immaturity, you, like me would have though wrong.  She is embittered and angry at Ray because he stopped talking to her.  In her naivety, she expected a relationship to blossom out of their sexual encounter.  In a “be careful what you wish for” kinda way, all she said was that she wanted to have sex, not have a boyfriend.  She asked for a curse to be put on Ray and refused to even acknowledge him at a party because she couldn’t get over their one night together.  Also, you’ll do well to remember what she was wearing at Hannah’s house warming party: a white dress.  White, the color of purity and virginity represents that even though she had sex and lost her biggest baggage she is still the same naïve, pure, innocent, and clueless girl that she was before.  This implies that sex really isn’t as big as a deal that Shoshanna originally made it out to be.  Even though she tries to sound more mature and seasoned after having sex, it still comes off as forced and phony because that’s not her; she’s not the mature and experienced woman that she wants to be, and that simply having sex won’t change that for her.

Even the guys in Girls (pun?) have their one flaw as well.  Adam is way too intense for his own good.  As he said himself, once he commits, he’s there for good.  This is exactly what happened with his relationship with Hannah.  He committed more than Hannah did and grew infuriated when she did not return that same intensity (love) back to him.  Charlie is way too affectionate and soft for his own good.  That’s why Marnie broke up with him, and that’s why his current girlfriend gets pissed off at him.  He smothers his girlfriends with love and affection in a stifling and constrictive way.  He doesn’t have to wait for them when they go to the bathroom, or bend to their every beck and call.  He’s a guy who pussy whips himself.  Ray is cynical and let’s his misanthropy known to everyone.  It’ll be interesting to see how this bodes for his budding relationship with Shoshanna.  That’s all I got for Ray.

So yes, Girls is a great show.  I guess that was the point of this article.  Girls is a show like none I have ever encounter before.  It grounds itself in realism at every juncture, whether it be through the situations, characterizations, character elements, or relationships.  What makes it vastly superior to most other shows is that the characters act and emote like real people.  While they do change and grow, they are limited by their own inhibitions as people which never really go away, just as in real life.  We can’t excise all of our flaws, and in Girls, the main characters all have that one flaw that will always hinder them.  It’s these flaws that make the characters who they are.  It’s me wondering where these flaws will take them that makes me sit down and watch HBO every Sunday at 9:00

[1] Although I can’t necessarily blame Marnie for this.  During their romp he started talking about his abandonment issues due to his father walking out on him.  Maybe that just makes Marnie even shittier?

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