I’ve been wanting to recap shows for the longest time, but I never found the right show to start it with. Enter Girls, written, directed by and starring Lena Dunham, which premiered on HBO last night after much hoopla.
It’s a HBO comedy about four single women living in New York City—sound a little familiar to you? They’re just begging for the Sex and the City comparisons, heck even one of the characters calls herself a Carrie with a little Samantha. But it’s minus the glossy Manolos and rent controlled Manhattan apartments. A 20something-Recession era slice of life with shared living spaces and enormous student loan debt (ugh only 50K for one character, that happy chap). There’s sex, but it’s grimy and with unflattering lighting.
It opens with Hannah (Dunham), an unpaid intern at some book company, having dinner with her parents, played with stoic brilliance by Peter Scolari and Becky Ann Baker. I like Hannah because she’s acerbic, chubby, and like me, a former English major so she’s doomed for poverty. Apparently her parents had been supporting her financially for the past two years, and they announce before they even get to dessert that they’re cutting her off with diddly because they’re only professors and Mama deserves to summer in the Hamptons, damn it (I made that Hamptons part up). That actually sounds quite reasonable to me, for all I can tell she’s been sittin’ pretty in her cozy Brooklyn bedroom in her hipster threads.
SO, she marches up to her evil slave-driving boss the next day at work and demands some buck for her bang. Girl can’t afford to work for free no more, she doth declare, firmly and without a smidgeon of humility (she might want to work on her negotiation techniques a bit). Ha-ha, yeah right, he says, you’re basically my pawn who can’t even use Photoshop, so you’re fired.
Internship-less and broke, Hannah seeks comfort and sees her gross boyfriend in his disgusting beer can littered apartment. In an uncomfortable sex scene that reminds me a little too much of that part in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, he tells Hannah to lie on her stomach while he fetches lube…hmm, imagine what for? Eww, eww ewww. The dude’s and an entitled idiot who gets $800 a month from grandma to support his acting career because he’s no slave to society (he said it). I feel the only reason why Hannah is with him is because she’s a stupid girl in a fruitless relationship with no idea someone’s better out there and is staying with him just because he’s alright for now (been there). That, or she’s a little Stockholm Syndromey.
And obviously between the exposition we meet the other supporting characters. Lovely, if not a little high strung, Marnie (Allison Williams) and her too adorable but too suffocating boyfriend who she wants to dump. Jessa (Jemima Kirke), an attractive, well-traveled Brit, with an exhausting world-weary ennui that lets her give terrible life advice. And there’s Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet) who is bubbly and cute, but unlike any of the other characters so I’m now quite sure what her purpose is yet.
After that squeamish sex scene and some “I used to be a fat girl” dialogue to explain her inner turmoil to her boyfriend, she attends Marnie’s little dinner party, two hours late. She announces to her friends at the party she has quit her unpaid job and she might, oh no, have to work at McDonalds. A clearly offended Micky-D’s lovin’ guy at the party rants that it’s not actually that bad to get paid minimum wage slinging nuggets, because one, they are fricken’ delicious, and two, how else are you supposed to afford new combat boots? Um, no way, she says, I have a degree for gosh sake. He’s right, you know. Her sense of entitlement is actually really frustrating.
Too hoity-toity to ever mutter “Would you like fries with that?”, in the last act, all drugged up on the opium tea that she nonchalantly ingested as her post-dinner digestif, she hikes to her parents’ hotel and practically demands them to give her $1,100 a month only to hear a defiant no, ‘cause you’re f’in spoiled. And then Miss Cranky Pants passes out, all dramatic like, and cut. She wakes up the next morning in the hotel bed and immediately tries to order some room service, because she really is f’in spoiled. But hotel reception kindly notes that mom and dad have booked it and will you please leave the premises immediately? Hannah finds that her parents have left her $20 as some consolation cash and another $20 for the hotel cleaning lady, who might actually need it. Hannah swipes both bills of course. Fade to black, roll credits.
Do I make this show sound kind of lame? Girls is absurd at points but it almost exactly mirrors my own 20something life. I like the quippy dialogue and the spot-on way Dunham portrays Hannah as the typical entitled 24-year-old living in New York, navigating friendships, relationships and career…you know, trying to find herself. It’s good because HBO shows usually are, and apparently Dunham is already loved by critics for her autobiographical indie film she did called Tiny Furniture. Anyway, solid first showing and I’m excited to see it pick up momentum with Jessa’s pregnancy…dundundun.