The Girls Situation

For how much television is currently on my DVR, its amazing I don’t talk about my TV preferences more. While I have many shows I love and watch with an almost frightening zeal – Community, Parks and Recreation, New Girl, Mad Men – the show I want to talk about today is one many MANY people have talked about. And talked about. And talked about. But I still feel like talking about it.

And not because it is actually ridiculously funny, which it is, or because it is “edgy and gritty” which I guess it kind of is, but because I’ve never seen characters do so many things that I’ve done and feel so many ways that I have felt at the exact point in my life when I’m doing and feeling all of those things.

And I guess I should say what the show is. It’s Girls on HBO. Of course. Because I am 25 and live in a city and am a girl.

In case you don’t read whole of the internet, Girls is a show by (probably priveledged and super lucky) Lena Dunham, a 25-year old TV and movie wunderkind who is loved and loathed by all of my aspiring TV writer friends. She made a small movie a couple years ago (with money she probably got from her parents, as many are quick to point out) that got her a meeting and eventually a deal at HBO making a show she felt was missing from the airwaves, a show about, as she once summarized, “smart girls making bad choices” aka my life and the life of pretty much all the girls I know.

And guys (and by guys I clearly mean girls), if you aren’t watching, you should be. It is like watching a slightly dirty, TV version of a Stratejoy season. In the last episode, Lena’s character, Hannah, had a terribly shitty day and then did exactly what I do at the end of a terrible day: posted vaguely on twitter and then danced around her room with her best friend to cheesy pop music. Some may call this cliche and then groan, but these people have clearly never been in my apartment at 7PM when this actual thing happens, literally, four times a week.

After years of watching TV and movies and lamenting over and over again with my sister and friends about the lack of girls, real girls who were like us on television, after years of watching and groaning every time I see another girl portrayed as the bitch, or the nag, or the up-tight workaholic, or the obsessive girlfriend, or the boy crazy teen, and every other type of girl written by a man, after all of that over and over and over again, I cannot tell you how wonderful it is to watch a TV show and just yell YES!

I know these people! I’ve had these feelings! I’ve done the terrible day dance to cheesy pop music! I’ve made that stupid decision and wondered about my future and felt terrible about myself and rambled uncontrollably to my gynecologist. Thank god someone else has too, and thank god she has been given a chance to write about some of that, to share about the experience of young women separate from the experience of any man.

I’ll never forget the first time my high school playwriting teacher told me that only 3 out of every 10 parts on Broadway were for women, and because of that, she would never let us write a play with more male characters than female, especially the girls. She told us we needed to tell our stories, because our voices were underrepresented on stage and on screen, and I am so happy to finally see that start to (ever so very slowly) shift.

Even if it is slight nepotism, and even if Lena Dunham, as many people have pointed out to me, “only got this show because her mom is an artist and she had the money to make a movie” (I know how privilege works, people. I’m in Teach for America.

It’s literally all we talk about), she is still a young, extremely talented (and funny) female voice, and those are still sorely lacking on television and in comedy, so I will root for her and cheer for her no matter how she got there with the hope that she will remind people that girls have unique, funny, awkward, sexy, and weird experiences just like men do, and they also make great television.

I’m not saying the show is perfect. There are some issues with white-washing, which if you are interested in, I would urge you to read the awesome NY Times debate on the issue, (My thoughts boil down to this: this is a whole entertainment industry mega problem that definitely needs to be tackled but one that should not be pinned on the shoulders of one 25 year old writer/director) and obviously, this is not every young woman’s life and not everything on the show is my life, just like no one’s small town is entirely like Pawnee, no one’s office is just like Dunder Mifflen, and no one’s doctors are like Meredith and Derek, but it is nice to see those flashes of recognition and to feel like someone is writing for and about you, in some small way.