Sunday, October 7, 2012

Girls Girls Girls

Next time I pass judgment on something based solely on information received from someone else (even if it is someone I trust), please tell me to piss off. I mean, I do stand by what I said (which was what I read; that the New York in Girls is strangely, unrealistically, and irresponsibly white), but that's not all I have to say about the show (nor was it all the writer said, but I couldn't agree when that was opinion rather than fact). The new fact is (opinion being fact when it belongs to the person presenting it; maybe like the difference between inference and implication), that Girls is great. It's funny. It's interesting. And it's held my and Vincent's interest in spite of the limited empathy we have for the characters - in fact, the limited like we have for the characters (Hannah's character being a notable exception as she is awesome and I really want to be her friend), which is usually a turn-off; it might be a weakness in my viewing habits, but I really need to have someone I can cheer for.

But what I think I like best about Girls is that it doesn't make the sixteen-year-old in me feel bad. I grew up during the Dawson's Creek era. Dawson's Creek was supposed to be accessible because the kids were geeks and Dawson was painful. But it wasn't. Jen had immaculate hair (for the time), and Joey had a certain way of saying words like 'becoming' that made her seem thoughtful and endearing (which, to my humiliation, I imitated to the point where now, thirteen years later, that is how I say those words). And in spite of the fact they were outcasts, things happened; people fell in love with them, they had sex with each other, and they were commercially pretty, and skinny. They made me feel inexperienced, and boring, and when I cut my hair short like Jen's (scary pattern emerging), I got zits between my eyes from the copious amounts of fudge I had to put in my hair to make it do those curl things hers did.

As I got older, the problem didn't go away, even though I was supposed to have stopped being insecure when I finished school. The two times I watched The OC, I felt fat, and unfashionable, and very limited by not being the child of neglectful millionaires. Other shows about kids my age weren't much different; the drama might have been slightly more realistic, but money was almost never a problem,  the clothes and hair were straight out of Nylon, and everyone was non-Jewish white, stick-thin, and so symmetrical-looking. I always seemed to be wearing flannel pajama pants when I watched these shows, and at home, instead of out living a life worth watching.

I'm five years older than the women in Girls, but it doesn't mean I'm immune to what I see on tv. I know what normal is and what it isn't; I know that the people I see don't eat entire cakes on their own, or put sugar in their tea, or do so little exercise that they have to lie to their doctors about it, or have to buy new undies because the old ones were constantly wedgie-ing them (front and back) because their bums were about 1.3 times the size they were this time last year. I know that my appearance is not the most important thing about me, and I'm (perhaps scarily, considering the things I've just written) more secure than I have ever been in my entire life. I love my life, and I wouldn't swap it with anyone's, real or fictional. But when everyone is skinny skinny skinny, and they never fart, I can't help feeling like I'm not doing what I'm meant to be doing. If I still feel like this now, my sixteen-year-old self would be unable to handle it; she'd drink too much, and say horrible things about other girls to make herself feel better, and want all of the products advertised in the breaks. She'd be a mess.

Hannah, the central (and my favourite) character in Girls, looks like a normal person. And she has sex all the time; awesomely uncomfortable/uncomfortably comfortable sex, and she says things during it that I never read in Cosmo. The most stylish character has a bum; like an actual bum, and she wears trousers so you can see it. They don't look like they've just had their hair done all the time; in fact, Hannah looks like she gets her hair done by the same person who does mine (ie me). And so the focus is on the things they do; what they want, what they learn, what they don't learn... and even if it's unusual it seems less so because they seem normal (normal! even thought they're all bankrolled by their parents! Yes friends, I have learned to relate to rich tv people).

After I saw Tiny Furniture, I thought I hated Lena Dunham's writing, and I couldn't understand the fuss. I think I need to see it again. Maybe she's the voice of her generation, maybe she's a voice of a generation, maybe she's not. But she's indubitably a gifted writer, a great actor and director, and fucking hilarious. May I leave you with the best eyebrows I have ever seen, and a recommendation to support Girls, both as a funny and well-written reflection of Gen Y life, and as a step in the direction that will let girls worry about things worth worrying about.

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