TVMUMBLESpunk | Girls
Coming to Sky Atlantic in September
It was no surprise to me when the bad reviews rained down on the first episode of Girls. I had seen Tiny Furniture (Dunham’s SXSW and Independent Spirit winning feature) earlier in the year and found the characters to be spoilt little brats with absolutely no redeemable qualities, the same complaints that were aimed at Girls. It also didn’t surprise me however to see a lot of people defending both Dunham and Girls as an entity. Despite my assumption that I would side with those knocking it, I could understand some of their arguments as it would be utterly moronic to dismiss a film-maker based on the first episode of the first series of their first ever TV show. There were accusations of inherent sexism in people’s complaints, as though because Lena Dunham is a female she is quicker to be ostracised without many people acknowledging that she possibly wouldn’t have had the same level of exposure had she not been a she. Regardless, by the time I sat down to watch it, I had read more responses to people’s responses on Girls than I had actual reviews of it.
Needless to say, I had the same overall response to those who hated it. The episode starts with Hannah (Dunham) acting spoilt in the face of her parents cutting her off after supporting her financially for two years since she graduated, and ending with her crossing a road in front of traffic and then sticking her hand out expecting them to stop for her while others wait. Throughout she pisses and whines about how life is totally unfair and I’m sure she’s attempting to make a statement about this generation and the lack of responsibility for their actions and opportunities available to them, but no one wants to watch half an hour of that when her life is preferable to their own.
Elsewhere in the episode we are introduced to her flatmate Marnie (Allison Williams) who is dating Charlie (Christopher Abbott) but she has lost the spark that they might once have had. She then she gets frustrated when Jessa (Jemima Kirke), an old friend that she and Hannah share, comes to New York to stay and gives Hannah some really irresponsible advice. On top of this we also get introduced to Adam (Adam Driver), Hannah’s fuck-buddy, who is of a similar educational and economic background to the others but has chosen to seemingly embrace the moment and refuse to buy into the lifestyle that he is expected to.
A lot of potential storylines and narratives are established and they are done so with aplomb. The humour is pretty spot on and I chuckled frequently and laughed more often than I expected. The dialogue is natural but purposeful in a way that hints at Dunham’s mumblecore background but in a way that has naturally evolved to suit HBO programming. The acting is convincing and features those from Tiny Furniture who I found most engaging.
Basically, it’s a perfectly fine first episode if you ignore the actions and attitude of Hannah and the tone that her character manages to infuse throughout the running time. I am totally willing however, despite this entitled attitude in both this episode and Tiny Furniture, to continue watching the show for a number of reasons but one in particular. I like the idea of a show created and predominantly written by a female regarding females at a pivotal period in their life, there aren’t enough women getting the opportunity to represent women effectively in media and, most importantly, this is the first episode of a show and the first instance spent with this character and, just as it would be unfair to write Dunham off based on her characterisation when she has shown that she has some potentially interesting things to say, it would be wrong to write a central character off based on the first of ten episodes.
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