By Bianca Ozeri
When Brie asked me to write a post on GIRLS, I got nervous because she hates the show and I love the show and sometimes I mistake disagreeing with Brie for cultural ineptitude. Which, she tells me, really is a mistake given that she still listens to Lana Del Rey. So, yes, I love GIRLS. Lena Dunham has, to me, hit the proverbial nail right on the head.
More than a voluntary choice, this adoration feels the only option in order to maintain my dignity. For every Sunday, during HBO’s shit slot, I watch a simulation of my life. I have three primary girlfriends who compositely exhibit qualities of comical ignorance, serious priggishness, and chic wisdom (myself included). We’ve had dance parties to Robyn. We’ve lived together when we shouldn’t. Virginity still looms for one of us. We’ve dealt with death together (not that of an unborn fetus, but still). And now that I’ve written out what I thought an uncanny likeness, I realize that it’s pretty cookie-cutter, and you, if you’re a girl, probably (hopefully!) draw the same parallels.
(Clara, absent, takes a brilliant photo)
Still though, the list continues: I’m only attracted to sexually disturbed ass holes—my one great love, who was initially just a fling, being one of them. However, where commitment has kind of turned Adam into a semi-sweetheart, commitment turned my ex into someone with ten extra pounds of lard who no longer thought it necessary to brush his teeth at night.
And continues: My disdain for parties is matched only by my disdain for alcohol. My breasts splay sideways. I am a writer; and in rare fantasies, usually when I’m high off a yoga class with my sexy instructor who guarantees gratuitous adjustments, the voice of a generation (although I don’t really think I want to be the voice of MY generation because, as I’ll address, I’m quite disappointed in us). So, you see, unless I wish to malign my already fragile ego, disliking GIRLS is just not an option.
Despite the similarities though, trust me, I would absolutely loooove to hate the show. I would love to be offended by the lack of diversity, by the characters’ mundane first world problems, by the abysmal sex, by Hannah’s increasingly irritating self-loathing. But I’m not. Because when I look around at the over-privileged, self-indulgent, insipidly-dressed youth of New York, that’s exactly what I see.
In Brie’s review of GIRLS, she compares the viewing pleasure of Sex & The City’s disreality, to the very real circumstances of Lena Dunham and friends that are denied to her characters. As Brie put it, she doesn’t care for “‘rich girls’ playing ‘average girls’”— which is annoying as fuck, of course. But, this insincere identity, I find, is exactly what defines my generation. We, by way of exploitative connections, achieve Sex & The City decadence without working for it. We have our rents paid for and complain we’re bereft of money. We are able to make bad art thanks to successful parents—most of whom made good art. We overdose on self-respect and in turn, we lose everybody else’s. And I’m concerned that this falsehood we’ve concocted is deteriorating our abilities to empathize.
I’m not certain, but I think it’s this insincerity that allows us to wallow freely, almost happily, in our helplessness—a skill Hannah has perfected down to her thespian lip-quiver. Helplessness, in our coddled, permissive little existences, suits the irony craze that has come to define today’s “cool”. While your 20s are, for lack of a better word, hard, we’ve given up on fighting the difficulties of an uncertain selfhood. We’ve become complacent, because wading in those difficulties seems a trend today, while combatting them seems to go unacknowledged.
GIRLS reflects all this. And even though I despise the subject matter of that reflection, I respect the self-awareness of it. This is probably a long shot, but it seems, to me, a very distinct possibility that if you’re between the ages of twenty and twenty-five and you hate this show, it’s because you hate yourself. It’s because GIRLS hits just a bit too close to home, and you fancy yourself a rebel. So proud, self-improvement is superfluous: a lover suggests your selfishness and you ask cluelessly if he thinks of you. An elder proposes you tame yourself and you marry a stranger. Lena Dunham, in a very strange, perhaps accidental way, is forcing upon my generation unconscious self-reflection, and I thank her for that.
So, despite that I’ve included myself as a member of my generation throughout this post (inevitably, I must exhibit some of their qualities), I guess I like GIRLS because it reminds me of what I don’t want to be. Those countless similarities force me to watch the show so I might change in me what I disrespect in them. I watch to affirm my self-improvement. To feel less shitty for not attending Bushwick warehouse parties, and for not fucking my ex to prove that I’m “unsmoteable” (whatever that means), and for forcing myself to learn how to avoid romanticizing alcoholic dick heads. To feel happy that I turned down my father’s offer of an apartment to live with my mother, and proud to be working as a hostess at The Mercer Kitchen. I watch GIRLS to remember I’d rather fail on my own, than succeed by someone else’s means.