‘Girls’ Recap (Season 1 Episode 1): “Pilot”
There’s been a lot of buzz, both good and bad for Lena Dunham’s Girls, which just premiered on HBO. I had a lot of thoughts watching the show, though I’m not sure how many were positive or negative, but I’m using the term negative gently, because I think the show has great potential. One of the inherit problems standing in the way of Girls’ potential to have staying power is that the titular ensemble is facing a series of issues at a very temporary stage of their lives. Based on the tone from this inaugural episode, I’m not sure the show would be able to remain compelling lasting longer than a miniseries because in life there must be change and there must be a progression of time or mentality. It’s not a sitcom, though it can be quirky-funny at times, which means there’s a limit to how many scenarios these decidedly real and admittedly sympathetic characters can endure before they fully realize themselves as adults. I think that’s the theme here-the transition from girl-hood to adulthood and the moment when that has to be fully embraced. The characters have elements of absurdity to them for sure, but I think the issues at heart really hit close to home, especially for those of us running the gauntlet of publication jobs. The narrative itself is true enough to be able to portray these slices-of-life without fully realized characters.
Lena Dunham is certainly impressive herself. She’s the main character and it’s clear that she’s experienced, at least to some degree, the problems faced by the character in the front of the story. She plays Hannah, a girl who’s had everything handed to her by her parents now suddenly being forced into independence two years out of college. She has big dreams, but she’s ill-equipment to manage them on her own. Her emotional crutch is her ever-supportive best friend/roommate Marnie (Allison Williams). Marnie has her own share of problems, namely her boyfriend that she’s realistically lost interest in for being too nice and undemanding in their relationship.
Rounding out the ranks of Hannah’s friends is her British friend Jessa, who just moved in with a valley-girl stereotype. She’s found herself far from home and pregnant, which makes her the most logical member of the group. She faces real adult problems and she’s been thrust into full maturity faster than most. Suddenly Hannah being cut off from her supportive parents doesn’t feel so bad. I think we have all faced things like this at some point, and while the show definitely appeals to a very specific generational demographic (at least for people that could fully relate to it) there’s a lot of universal truths of growing up that will leave it accessible to people who don’t fit that gap.
One of the least relatable/played out aspects of the show is Hannah’s lack of self-esteem has lead her to being the sex toy of a rude, domineering guy that anyone sane would promptly dump. But in defense of the writing, maybe all young relationships are insane to some degree. There’s certainly a wild factor in her relationship that you seen in a lot of self-deprecating comedies, but the show shoots for reality and manages to hit the mark more often than not.
Girls is a drab, fittingly depressing show about a group of females trying to find themselves as the “voices of their generation” clueless and fresh out of the educational system. If we can’t say we’ve experienced it, the social dynamics of the show might still be interesting to some, though less chaotic than those viewers are probably used to from other shows. For those who can relate, it’s not as somber because it’s almost like a pat on the back saying “no you’re not the only one this flawed, selfish and delusional.” The series has potential, but I think that can only be fully determined when we see more episodes, and I can safely say Girls has my attention at least for a season just based off this first episode. If the general reaction to the show is positive, I can see it being renewed for a second season. It’s totally banking and dependent on its relatability to the individual viewer and it’s certainly more refreshing than I expected, (though to find ways to praise it I’ve had to use the word “relate” over a thousand times in the past three paragraphs.) A word of caution though that those who went in expecting a Superbad with girls are going to be disappointed.
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