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Season 1: Episode 1
April 17, 2012 6:09 AM   Subscribe

Girls is being compared to Louie.
posted by kliuless (235 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
Great, this means I can add it directly to the pile marked "good, but wife finds them too depressing" without accidentally making her sad. This will save tons of time.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 6:18 AM on April 17, 2012 [8 favorites]


funny, not hilarious...it get's good when it approaches weird.
posted by judson at 6:26 AM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


She does that Woody Allen thing where one person starts talking on the extreme right or left of the frame, and the camera slowly pulls out to reveal the person they're talking to.

This seems ok. I don't know, you guys. I keep waiting for Best Coast songs to start playing. I think Lena Dunham is super talented but this makes me feel incredibly old, and I'm exactly the age of someone who still pays for HBO and would watch it.
posted by littlerobothead at 6:27 AM on April 17, 2012


For god's sake avoid Punching the Clown then, Bulgaroktonos (though it is quite good).
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 6:27 AM on April 17, 2012


She may be the voice of her generation. Or a voice of a generation.
posted by Obscure Reference at 6:31 AM on April 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


Also: when did all women under 30 start dressing like they're preparing to make a solo trans-Atlantic flight in 1932? I swear if I see one more purse made of a vintage wicker basket designed for storing fly fishing lures I'm going to faint.
posted by littlerobothead at 6:31 AM on April 17, 2012 [16 favorites]


I'll probably give it a couple more episodes but it just doesn't seem like that much of a deconstruction of the Sex in City style show as it is still trapped in a bubble of unreality. Sure the show is slightly more realistic than the average NYC 20 something comedy with a smaller apartment, no designer clothes, something resembling money problems, etc. but in essence it still seems fundamentally the same old same old. Watching the main character struggle with her friends, career, and family reminds me of Bridget Jones diary and other 2 major characters introduced thus far (exotic British woman whose lack of emotional connections and roots will apparently lead to drama concerning her pregnancy, young career oriented woman with an emotionally clingy boyfriend that she despises but can't seem to dump) just seem pretty two-dimension (admittedly this is early in a new show).

I think a deconstruction of the standard NYC 20 something comedy format is potentially valuable but the show just doesn't seem that honest. Even if you can ignore the likelihood that the major characters are all likely from upper middle class backgrounds whose lifestyle has been bankrolled in part by parents (or grandparents) it just seems to be about fundamentally selfish people doing short sighted and selfish things.
posted by vuron at 6:32 AM on April 17, 2012 [7 favorites]


Even if you can ignore the likelihood that the major characters are all likely from upper middle class backgrounds whose lifestyle has been bankrolled in part by parents (or grandparents) it just seems to be about fundamentally selfish people doing short sighted and selfish things.

I mean granted any of us have only seen the pilot so judging everything the show is going to attempt to discuss seems a little stupid at this point, but I did sort of think that this was something of the point of the pilot.
posted by shakespeherian at 6:44 AM on April 17, 2012 [7 favorites]


I still miss the Jennifer Love Hewitt / Jennifer Garner Party of Five spin-off Time of Your Life.
posted by Trurl at 6:54 AM on April 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


I very much enjoyed the pilot and I will certainly keep watching the show, because I'm a sucker for this sort of thing. But that said, it made me a little uncomfortable, because it seems to have as one of its main purposes pandering to the very nastiest stereotypes held by an audience that shares a generational cohort with Hannah's parents.

Look at the column that Frank Bruni (born 1964) wrote in the New York Times. To him the message of the show is clear: your kids are destroying themselves emotionally with bad relationships and worse sex (the "errant hair pulling!"). And if you read enough other reactions to the show by writers of a similar age, you can extend the litany: your kids cannot manage to develop any useful skills or formulate, let alone pursue, any kind of career goals. They are spectacularly failing to manifest any agency whatsoever in their own lives. Even their drugs are terrible and stupid. Civilization, should it fall into their hands, would surely crumble.

I know that people like the people in the show exist, but Dunham clearly wants us to see them as representative in some way, and I don't think that they are. But I know that my parents' peers are going to watch this show and think that this is what life is like for their kids who have moved to the city, opium tea and all, and that's a little dispiriting.
posted by enn at 6:55 AM on April 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


I knew Lena Dunham at Oberlin and she was probably the most annoying, shameless self promoter there. She was a part of a clique of bratty NY girls who all went to the same private schools and only hung out with each other. She's talented but I feel like she's been helped immensely by her family connections, rich upbringing and the mentorship of Judd Apatow.
posted by timsneezed at 6:58 AM on April 17, 2012 [15 favorites]


The scene where the no-more-money girl is eating a cupcake in the tub and her roommate is shaving her legs is pretty much what I assume all female roommates do all the time.
posted by mullacc at 6:58 AM on April 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


and comparing her show to the genius of Louie is just disgusting.
posted by timsneezed at 7:00 AM on April 17, 2012 [17 favorites]


I watched this last night and one of the things I was struck by was the way, deliberately or not, the show captured the specific feel of certain times of day or seasons.The interior shot of the main female character on the couch with her pseudo-boyfriend after sex so perfectly captured, for me, that weird dusk feeling of an apartment and too little natural light and the feeling of not knowing your next move in life. I like this show, a lot. It doesn't seem to try too hard to be cute, and as a father the pathos of considering the life ahead for my girls hits home. But frankly, I'm not seeing and stereotypes yet. If I want that I'll watch How to Make It in America.
posted by docpops at 7:02 AM on April 17, 2012 [7 favorites]


I knew Lena Dunham at Oberlin and she was probably the most annoying, shameless self promoter there.

The opposing viewpoint: I worked with Lena on several of her short projects and her first feature (Creative Nonfiction) and she acted in one of my films and in the films of friends. She couldn't have been a nicer person and wanted nothing from me other than to collaborate and be friendly, and I couldn't be happier for her success. She's one of the more genuinely talented and nice people I've met in this industry, which should say a lot.
posted by SmileyChewtrain at 7:04 AM on April 17, 2012 [18 favorites]


I knew Lena Dunham at Oberlin and she was probably the most annoying, shameless self promoter there.

Yeah, it helps me to remember that for many people college doesn't offer much more of an opportunity to mature than high school does. In fact the pressure for conformity, or worse yet for developing special snowflake status, can be pretty grim.
posted by docpops at 7:07 AM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Look at the column that Frank Bruni (born 1964) wrote in the New York Times.

So now we have pegged that the new minimum age for people to start ordering kids to get off their lawns is now 48? Good work, Frank Bruni.
posted by mightygodking at 7:11 AM on April 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


Frank Bruni sucks so hard it hurts. I wince every time I see him knowing he is taking up space left by Frank Rich. You could pluck any staff member from the Onion at random and get more relevant prose than that gasbag.
posted by docpops at 7:15 AM on April 17, 2012


I was impressed with Tiny Furniture but I think that I like Dunham better as a writer/director than as a performer. Furniture was a pretty amazingly well made movie for no budget, she (or her director of photography) has a nice eye for composition and it was mostly very sharply written. As a performer, I find that she wears out her welcome pretty quickly. I'll watch at least an episode of this series but not sure if I can take a whole series.
posted by octothorpe at 7:15 AM on April 17, 2012


She's talented but I feel like she's been helped immensely by her family connections, rich upbringing and the mentorship of Judd Apatow.

I enjoyed the first episode much more than I did Tiny Furniture--in part because Girls seems to take more of a critical view of a bunch of really privileged bratty kids; it was never clear to me at all whether Tiny Furniture was critical of Aura's actions or upholding them.

But I can't shake the feeling of "privilege, privilege." The cast looks nothing like the Brooklyn crowd I know (they're SO WHITE! well, except for that Magical Negro at the end of the first ep . . . ), and while it seems, in some ways, to be suggesting that the economy makes things hard even for the rich, the very existence of the show negates that. Dunham's talented, but she's had a lot more opportunities than . . . well, pretty much anyone. Likewise, most of the people on her show. It's kind of a bizarre tension.

Also that thing Hannah did at the end of the first episode made her pretty irredeemable to me. And not in a good, unlikable-but-still-interesting character sort of way.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:16 AM on April 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yeah, it helps me to remember that for many people college doesn't offer much more of an opportunity to mature than high school does.

Yeah, it would be awesome if people came out of college with the self-awareness to realize that whining about how bratty and annoying non-present third parties are reflects poorly on them and not the third party. Alas!
posted by griphus at 7:16 AM on April 17, 2012 [9 favorites]


But I can't shake the feeling of "privilege, privilege."

Half of Louie's pilot was a story about a school bus breaking down in a scary neighborhood and Louis solved the problem by calling a fleet of limos to pick up the kids.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:19 AM on April 17, 2012 [9 favorites]


Half of Louie's pilot was a story about a school bus breaking down in a scary neighborhood and Louis solved the problem by calling a fleet of limos to pick up the kids.

I dunno, man, Girls opens with Hannah's parents withdrawing parental support and her whining about the economy (and ends with them reinforcing that decision, after she shows up on drugs to tell them how she's the voice of her generation). It's kinda sorta puts these class and economic issues at the forefront without doing anything to really address them, either via the narrative or the production.

I'm not saying that, say, Louie isn't flawed. But I think there's an interesting conversation to be had here, beyond, "Well Louie has class issues too!"
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:24 AM on April 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


~But I can't shake the feeling of "privilege, privilege."

~Half of Louie's pilot was a story about a school bus breaking down in a scary neighborhood and Louis solved the problem by calling a fleet of limos to pick up the kids.


Face it. If it weren't for the conceit of money or privilege, most characters on tv would have to deal with life's problems the way ordinary people would. And where's the entertainment in that???
posted by Thorzdad at 7:26 AM on April 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


She's talented but I feel like she's been helped immensely by her family connections, rich upbringing and the mentorship of Judd Apatow.

You just summed up about 98% of show business.
posted by fungible at 7:28 AM on April 17, 2012 [12 favorites]


It's strange because I generally can look past privilege in most shows because I think the creators and shows have no desire to really examine or explore the privilege of their characters. However in a show that is ostensibly examining the struggles of someone trying to make it in the world, the level of privilege displayed by the main characters (dining at a elegant restaurant with well educated professor types as parents, being supported by said parents while interning at a boutique publisher, expecting said parents to support her for a couple more years while she writes her memoir that will likely be hailed as a voice of a generation just screams privilege). If I felt like Girls was really going to examine that privilege in depth I could tolerate the "first world problems" feel but it seems like they are playing it straight with the viewer supposed to feel sympathy for the struggles of being a young something living in NYC when her inherent talent should've already risen her up to great heights.
posted by vuron at 7:29 AM on April 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


Is this show some sort of farcical metacommentary about privileged kids who are all being played by IRL privileged kids? I can't really tell. I don't think it is.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 7:32 AM on April 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


I think that part of the strength of the pilot is that manages to allow its characters' complaints to be real complaints, to let us understand how they are legitimate hardships, while also indicating that these characters are unrealistic about how they're living their lives, about their expectations. I can't think of a better way to handle it.

Also I'm a little surprised other people thought that 'voice of my generation' line was supposed to be taken as serious on the part of the show. It seemed pretty clearly to be mocking Hannah's aspirations ('Have you read my book?' she asks, handing her parents six sheets of paper).
posted by shakespeherian at 7:33 AM on April 17, 2012 [8 favorites]


Man, I just do not see the privelege angle at all.

The restaurant in the opening scene was as generic and bland as anything I could imagine in midtown and depressing as hell. The apartments and interiors strike me as quite realistic, and the opening walk they take down what I assume is a Brooklyn side street was suitably grimy. Keep in mind that these are kids of the boomers, who are approaching or into their sixties or beyond and likely escaped a lot of the economic carnage of late. Which is sort of the point. The main characters parents, who should know better, are so shallow that they just want a fucking vacation home rather than weaning their kid off the parental teat. If there's selfishness going on, watch for it in the elders where it really looks unseemly.
posted by docpops at 7:34 AM on April 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


If I felt like Girls was really going to examine that privilege in depth I could tolerate the "first world problems" feel but it seems like they are playing it straight with the viewer supposed to feel sympathy for the struggles of being a young something living in NYC

In the first episode, the lead character basically throws not one but two passive-aggressive tantrums when her parents tell her they are cutting her off (one inspired by "drugs" which are barely drugs in any realistic sense), bails on her friends to have sex with her terrible boyfriend, ignores the obviously practical advice of her grounded friend to instead follow the terrible idealistic advice of her flighty friend, and steals money from hotel housekeeping staff. It is at least implied that she is not the great talent she thinks she is.

This is an interesting definition of "sympathetic."
posted by mightygodking at 7:35 AM on April 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


Louie definitely has a significant amount of privilege. His character as it was is no longer a struggling comedian hoping desperately for time on stage but someone that is relatively successful. His success and the relative wealth he enjoys (although he explores the limits of that wealth when he wants to buy the ridiculous expensive home in the city) provides him with a massive security blanket. But fundamental both within the character's actions and his comedy routines there is an understanding that "hey I'm actually a pretty successful white dude". That understanding keeps his show from being yet another unreality bubble which are so commonly seen on comedies. Because he doesn't shy away from the privilege and even acknowledges it within the context of the show it just feels so much more honest. Plus it's way way funnier.
posted by vuron at 7:36 AM on April 17, 2012 [7 favorites]


You are comparing two completed seasons of television to a pilot.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:39 AM on April 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


This is an interesting definition of "sympathetic."

A character who would agree with her parents that she should be cut off, doesn't lose her temper over trivial things, leaves her shitty boyfriend to either be happily single or find the man of her dreams and regularly takes her friends' advice and betters her life would be the worst sitcom character imaginable.
posted by griphus at 7:40 AM on April 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


I take that back. Ted McGinley's Roger Phillips character on Happy Days is the worst sitcom character imaginable.
posted by griphus at 7:42 AM on April 17, 2012


Also I'm a little surprised other people thought that 'voice of my generation' line was supposed to be taken as serious on the part of the show. It seemed pretty clearly to be mocking Hannah's aspirations ('Have you read my book?' she asks, handing her parents six sheets of paper).

I knew it was tongue-in-cheek. It was just another example of the character being fundamentally unlikable, though. And I have a pretty high tolerance for unlikable characters.

I think what the thinkprogress blogs miss--and the comparisons to Louie miss, too--is that many male anti-heroes are presented as fundamentally good people despite the sometimes wrong-headedness of their actions. Louie loves his kids and is a good dad. In Californication, David Duchovny's character tries and tries again to be a decent person, but fails due to his addictive personality (mostly). Don Draper is sometimes violent and irrational but is attempting to escape his demons. We understand these guys as attempting to act decently within a certain moral code even if they fail. I don't know, yet, that I feel that way about Hannah's character--in fact I'd say it's the opposite. Within the first 36 minutes of the show, she shows us that she consistently endeavors to act in the most selfish way possible.

"Anti-hero" is not synonymous for "asshole."
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:43 AM on April 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


The cast looks nothing like the Brooklyn crowd I know (they're SO WHITE! well, except for that Magical Negro at the end of the first ep . . . )

Eh - I think the whiteness rings pretty true for the crowd they are trying to portray.
posted by JPD at 7:43 AM on April 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


Anybody remember when sitcoms were 30 minutes long and consisted of broad humor to help you unwind at the end of a shitty day and not people living more exciting lives than you and still managing to complain about it? Let's go back to that.
posted by jonmc at 7:46 AM on April 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


Of course I'm comparing the two shows. The whole thread is essentially built around that supposition.

If I'm going to hail Girls as being as brilliant as Louie (as the links seem to want to suggest) then it needs to deliver. I think it shows potential and I think a deconstruction of escapist comedies like Sex in the City is definitely a valid goal but I'm talking about the elements of the pilot that just didn't work for me. I think it's a perfectly valid point of criticism to discuss how the reality depicted in the show could only exist for a minute fraction of the population and how that reduces the ability of the viewer to relate to the main character.
posted by vuron at 7:46 AM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


All those characters you just named are adults. The title of the show pretty much gives away that these characters are not meant to be adults. That's what kids like this do - they are selfish.

I think the plot and the characters ring true-ish. I'm just not sure I understand why anyone wants to watch it.
posted by JPD at 7:46 AM on April 17, 2012


I don't know about class issues but Louie is funny as hell. While the pilot for Girls was not really funny, so i don't see in what way those shows are related.
posted by SageLeVoid at 7:47 AM on April 17, 2012


I demand a premium-channel sitcom deconstruction of Perfect Strangers.
posted by griphus at 7:48 AM on April 17, 2012 [10 favorites]


"Anti-hero" is not synonymous for "asshole."

No, but you're skipping over popular sitcom characters who are complete selfish assholes: Larry David, everyone in Seinfeld, everyone in Bored to Death, everyone in Sex and the City.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:49 AM on April 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


All those characters you just named are adults. The title of the show pretty much gives away that these characters are not meant to be adults. That's what kids like this do - they are selfish.

Lena's character is 24 years old, not sixteen.

(Spoken with the wisdom of a 28 year old. But I mean, c'mon.)
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:50 AM on April 17, 2012


The pilot is a lot funnier than I thought it would be. I need to stopped reading critics on the internet. The hotel scene at the end is hilarious. "Why don't you get a job and start a blog! You are so spoiled!" and then she tops it with "We're not WaMu, Hannah!"
posted by mullacc at 7:50 AM on April 17, 2012


No, but you're skipping over popular sitcom characters who are complete selfish assholes: Larry David, everyone in Seinfeld, everyone in Bored to Death, everyone in Sex and the City.

I wouldn't call any of those characters antiheroes, though.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:50 AM on April 17, 2012


An easy way to look at this, for everyone who sees Louie as being priveleged, is thus: Louis was a down on his luck comedian on food stamps for 15 years who is just now getting people to realize how talented he is. He's had numerous false starts and setbacks along the way, including the defacement of his work by a giant movie studio and a messy divorce.

Lena Dunham, on the other hand, went to Oberlin just a few short years ago. Aside from the usual scrimping and saving that everyone does now and again, outward appearances (and we know how reliable those can be) she hasn't done a lot of prior "suffering" for her art. This does not make her a bad person.

Bear in mind that suffering is not an indicator of talent. But bear in mind, too, that talking about suffering from a place of privilege—life-long privilege—is very different than talking about suffering from a place of suffering or a place of recent privilege that one is not entirely certain how to explain or feel much of anything but shame about.

Louie's work has the ring of truth because it's his actual, live-in life; Dunham's has the ring of fiction because she's twenty-fucking five and who didn't fictionalize there lives to some degree at that age? In short, Louie's view of his own privilege is very complex (it should be; he's a 40+ year old); Lena's is fairly one-note because she doesn't have much "on the ground knowledge" of long term economic suffering or of being artistically hamstrung, and she's roughly half Louie's age.
posted by littlerobothead at 7:51 AM on April 17, 2012 [25 favorites]


There/their. Sigh. Sometimes I hate trying to be smart on the internet.
posted by littlerobothead at 7:53 AM on April 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Lena's character is 24 years old, not sixteen.

(Spoken with the wisdom of a 28 year old. But I mean, c'mon.)


I'm 35. When I was 24 I was not a fully-formed adult.

If you are depending on your parents for support and working a job that intrinsically cannot support the lifestyle you expect to lead and your solution is not to change your lifestyle or your job, then you aren't an adult.

I mean the show is called "Girls"
posted by JPD at 7:55 AM on April 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


But I'm not sure that the creator is aiming for a completely loathsome character like Larry David or Seinfeld. The format definitely doesn't seem to aiming for a deconstruction of the Seinfeldian sitcom (and if so need to pick up the banter and humor significantly).

Obviously there are similarities between Girls and Sex and the City and I'd say definitely some similarities between Girls and the largely dislikeable bored to death but I still think that the creator is aiming for audience sympathy of her character rather than wanting us to utterly loathe her for being selfish and manipulative. Especially when she's not even that good at being manipulative.
posted by vuron at 7:55 AM on April 17, 2012


WHO'S IN HERE TALKING BAD ABOUT "BORED TO DEATH"?
posted by Edison Carter at 7:56 AM on April 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


Anybody remember when sitcoms were 30 minutes long and consisted of broad humor to help you unwind at the end of a shitty day and not people living more exciting lives than you and still managing to complain about it? Let's go back to that.

Done.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:57 AM on April 17, 2012


Needs the #whitegirlproblems tag
posted by unSane at 7:58 AM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


it just seems to be about fundamentally selfish people doing short sighted and selfish things.

File under Mad Men
posted by Beardman at 7:59 AM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


The pilot is a lot funnier than I thought it would be. I need to stopped reading critics on the internet.

Yeah, I've come to the conclusion that what Girls needs is a version with a laugh track to show to internet people. It's not yet been as bad here as it has in other places but I don't think I've seen a comedic scene in the pilot that hasn't been taken straight by sourpusses and Gen-Xers. That said it is a reasonably funny show but not funnier than a number of broader comedies on TV.
posted by furiousthought at 8:01 AM on April 17, 2012


Great, this means I can add it directly to the pile marked "good, but wife finds them too depressing" without accidentally making her sad. This will save tons of time.

Having seen the first episode last night, that is an accurate assessment. I have high hopes for it. Mrs Holdkris99 really liked it. It's kind of raunchier scenes bordered on "Shameless" territory, and there is nothing wrong with that.
posted by holdkris99 at 8:01 AM on April 17, 2012


I'm 35. When I was 24 I was not a fully-formed adult.

If you are depending on your parents for support and working a job that intrinsically cannot support the lifestyle you expect to lead and your solution is not to change your lifestyle or your job, then you aren't an adult.

I mean the show is called "Girls"


I think that's part of the fundamental tension here--these "kids" aren't kids based on virtue of their age but their economic status. They'll likely live in this bubble forever (and when assy fuckbuddy friend says he'd never be someone's slave, he's missing the fact that, because his grandmother supports him, he's in some ways financially beholden to her.)

If you want more of a parallel character, I think Pete Campbell on Mad Men is a good one--life of privilege, close in age, struggling with the idea of striking out on his own vs. resting on his inherited laurels. But over the course of the show, Weiner's managed to make him sympathetic while simultaneously evoking loathing.

Of course, there's only been one episode of Girls. We'll see if the same is true for these characters. But something that bothers me about shows like this is something suggested by the thingprogress blog: how much you like Girls entirely depends on how much tolerance you have for the deep well of humor that can be found in grating and pathetic behavior, and how much you enjoy recognizing that in yourself (the answer for me is a whole bunch)

And I'm sorry, but that just makes me grit my teeth. Based on what we know of Hannah from the first episode, I don't recognize any of Hannah in myself.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:03 AM on April 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


Man, I just do not see the privelege angle at all.

Anybody who doesn't see having two college professors for parents as PRIVILEGED (I'm talking cultural capital here) is... you must have been one of my classmates at Reed, maybe the one who lamented how ashamed she was to tell people that her dad was a professor at UC-Santa Barbara, because it wasn't, you know, Columbia. My dad dropped out the of 8th grade and worked on an assembly line.

This chick is PRIVILEGED.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 8:04 AM on April 17, 2012 [19 favorites]


WHO'S IN HERE TALKING BAD ABOUT "BORED TO DEATH"?

For some reason, possible a poor genetic inheritance that has caused a strange re-wiring of my brain, I am incapable of differentiating between Bored To Death, Better Off Ted, and Reaper.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 8:05 AM on April 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


I honestly can't decide what I think about Girls. I watched it, and just went 'meh.' The privilege of these characters is undeniable, but their own blindness about that privilege is so incredibly real. Which is, to me, pretty funny as well as horribly uncomfortable. That's the thing - I understand Hannah feeling like it's unfair to get cut off by her parents (and did anyone else get a flashback to Winona Ryder's character in Reality Bites bitching about possibly having to work at the Gap when Hannah was freaking out about McDonalds?). But I also understand her mother's position that, dammit, she's supported this totally entitled brat of a kid for two freaking years after college and by god she's worked hard all of her life and she just wants her damn lake house now.

And that's what made me realize that this show isn't really for me. I mean, I'm 34 and self sufficient and have been for a while. I can analyze Girls, and enjoy it, but this is media that is very clearly neither for me nor about me. Which made reading Tavi Gevinson's take on the show very enlightening to me:

It’s realer than anything I’ve seen thus far about what my life is just about to be. The characters are not perfect role models—they make mistakes and have shitty boyfriends and say the wrong things. But collectively, they represent a more realistic version of the whole being-a-young-grown-up thing than anything we’ve seen yet, and in my opinion, that’s a much healthier expectation to plant in YOUNG, IMPRESSIONABLE MINDS than the illusion that figuring out who you are and what you care about and what you do about that will be easy.

Not that there aren't problems with that (especially as regards realistic = super fucking privileged) as well.
posted by amelioration at 8:09 AM on April 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Shameless meets Sex in the City with a dash of Flight of the Conchords.
posted by Fizz at 8:11 AM on April 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


The apartments and interiors strike me as quite realistic, and the opening walk they take down what I assume is a Brooklyn side street was suitably grimy.

Well, here's some meta for you: it's filmed in my neighborhood in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. It's getting harder and harder to find 'suitably grimy' places to film in Williamsburg, since kids of privilege have taken that over and it's going to get just as hard quickly in Greenpoint as those kids move here. So, 'realistic' depends on what you're definition of realistic is. The "realistic" I think you mean doesn't exist in this particular neighborhood/universe.
posted by spicynuts at 8:13 AM on April 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


It reminded me of the beginning of the Harry Potter movie where Dudley Dursley doesn't get enough Christmas presents. Maybe they could make a series about him, too.
posted by unSane at 8:14 AM on April 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


I found the pilot interesting. I think Judd Apatow is trying to address the complaint that he apparently doesn't think women can be funny, and he's tried to address is in his past few films, producing "Bridesmaids" and making one of his secondary female leads in "Funny People" a stand-up comic. Compare this to the response of the "Two Broke Girls" creators, who essentially flew into a defensive snit when confronted over the fact that every non-white character in their show is a ethnic caricature.

I'm glad that he's responded to these charges, and bankrolling Dunham and Wiig is a good choice -- both are undeniably talented, with distinctive voices. On the other hand, responding to charges of sexism by producing a show called "Girls" feels a bit like responding to charges of antisemitism by producing a show called "Jews" -- I guess it's a start, but it feels a bit like overkill. Wiig's film barely passed the Bedchel test either -- most of the movies was women worrying about guys, and talking about them, and talking about how their relationship as women was effected by guys. (And, come to think of it, half of Apatow's films could be called "Jews.")

Now, in fairness, "Bridesmaids" was a very good comedy, and a much better romantic comedy than most of what we get, and really concerned itself with creating distinct female comic roles and having them interact with greater complexity than you usually get. And so Apatow gets a lot of points. But I guess I just wish he's take one of the scripts that he's been planning to shoot using, I don't know, Jason Segel and Russell Brand and say, hey, what happens if I cast women in these roles instead of men?

You know, the role of Ripley in Alien was written for a man. It can be done.

But so be it. We end up with "Girls" and "Bridesmaids," which at least puts female writers and female characters from and center. In modern Hollywood, that coupling isn't specially common.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:21 AM on April 17, 2012 [11 favorites]


A good story introduces characters and settings where you can presage the arc they represent. It sets them up to knock them down or sets them low so they can claw their way up and discover something about what they lose or how they change in the process. A great story does so in a way that is often on the verge of losing you, only to delight you with how self-aware and not full-of-itself it is.

I'll judge Girls based on how they take an admittedly, clearly privileged character who is somewhere between dimly and totally un-aware of her own privilege and find new lows or highs for her to first be overcome by, then overcome. C'mon - I've watched friends have that shitty relationship they keep half-secret for shame who, after some spectacularly self-destructive choices, figure out how not to hate themselves in that way. And they've done it while barely scraping by in Brooklyn or Astoria, figuring out how to scrabble for jobs and stay afloat when other resources run dry. If Girls can be about that, serve as a cringing but ultimately affirming trip through self-realization, past self-loathing and into letting go of the expectations folks grow up with to find the ones they actually have for themselves - that'll be a good show, rife with comic opportunity from the tension between what we know to be possible, realistic or wise and the contortions the characters will go through to behave how they wish anyway.

In short, privilege is relative. When it is totally unaware of its own boundaries (Bush I not knowing how much a gallon of milk costs) it is pathetic and repellent. When it is aware but unwilling to abandon itself for the sake of momentum or imagined great things, it can be pathos-inducing and revelatory: A six page "book" and "voice of a generation" are ignorant but somehow self-aware - demanding recognition but knowing it's undeserved. And stealing tips from folks way less privileged is the kind of thing that should send an interesting story into an exploration of rock-bottom and a privileged character into self-awareness. If it happened right away it wouldn't be a story, and definitely not a comedy.
posted by abulafa at 8:36 AM on April 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


I knew Lena Dunham at Oberlin and she was probably the most annoying, shameless self promoter there. She was a part of a clique of bratty NY girls who all went to the same private schools and only hung out with each other. She's talented but I feel like she's been helped immensely by her family connections, rich upbringing and the mentorship of Judd Apatow.
This matches my experiences with Dunham as well. I try not to hold grudges or get jealous of the success of my peers, but there were so many kids with so much more talent who could have do so much more brilliant things who are now waiting tables or working at the mall because they didn't have famous artists for parents. Life isn't fair, I know, but it sure does make me grit my teeth a whole bunch.

And yes, privilege, privilege, privilege. Privilege means you can get away with calling a show about rich snobby white women "Girls". The implicit message is that this is the life all girls should have, and if your circumstances prevent you from ever having this, you're not really a girl.

argh.
posted by Jon_Evil at 8:43 AM on April 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


How about a show with young women trying to make it in a small town in rural America. It could be Shameless/East Enders meets Sex And The City/Girls. It could be a fuck ton more gritty and less of that angsty but insincere introspection. I know, maybe it's not insincere, but it strikes me as insincere.

Plus you could have bits like "LouAnn loses her job at Dairy Queen but gets drunk and wins the Wet TShirt Contest". OMG I should be a producer. Maybe a tie-in with Eastbound and Down, that would be so awesome.
posted by Xoebe at 8:46 AM on April 17, 2012 [9 favorites]


A good story introduces characters and settings where you can presage the arc they represent.

That may be the way this show approached the subject, but I should point out that it's not the traditional approach of the sitcom. Sitcoms are rooted in having a recognizable status quo, threatening to upset that every episode, and then returning to the status quo by the end of the episode. It doesn't make for elaborate character development, but, then, sitcoms are intended to be taken in in morsels, often out of sequence, and so can only really be judged on an episode-by-episode basis. Is this not a good story? Sure it is -- it's the basis for I Love Lucy and Seinfeld (which actually made this fact the point of its final episode.) It's also the approach favored by Sex and the City, which Girls explicitly references.

But this show is on HBO, which has favored longer character arcs and "novelistic" television, so I suspect it won't use the traditional sitcom structure.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:46 AM on April 17, 2012


An interesting post at thehairpin on the racial issues. Also on "tubcakegate."
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:47 AM on April 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


If Girls can be about that, serve as a cringing but ultimately affirming trip through self-realization, past self-loathing and into letting go of the expectations folks grow up with to find the ones they actually have for themselves - that'll be a good show, rife with comic opportunity from the tension between what we know to be possible, realistic or wise and the contortions the characters will go through to behave how they wish anyway.

But this is exactly the cliche that gets rammed down our throats all the time - "ultimately affirming". What is ultimately affirmed? First World Problems, First World Dreams, First World Philosophies. That story arc is itself privilege. I'd like to see more stories about the people who grow up with this fairy tale that you can 'find yourself, follow your dreams, struggle and find your true self" and then FAIL. Or, people who don't grow up with this fairy tale at all. Or people who are on the fringes of majority white society but are bombarded with this fairy tale by advertising, media, movies, blah blah blah and how they are forced to judge their own live by it or rebel against it or wallow in how they hate it.

The problem is that all these 'Ultimately Affirming" story arcs are written by people who are privileged to begin with and who only have the viewpoint of succeeding and having been 'affirmed'. WHere are the Bukowski's of the tv world?
posted by spicynuts at 8:47 AM on April 17, 2012 [8 favorites]


it just seems to be about fundamentally selfish people doing short sighted and selfish things

Isn't that the fantasy, though?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:51 AM on April 17, 2012


I'd like to see more stories about the people who grow up with this fairy tale that you can 'find yourself, follow your dreams, struggle and find your true self" and then FAIL.

The Britta Perry Show?
posted by psoas at 8:51 AM on April 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


Girls is excellent for being a rare circumstance in which female writers and directors manage a predominantly female cast and give a unique perspective not seen in other examples of contemporary media.

Having said that, I did not really care for or enjoy the show because I could not find much sympathy for most of the characters. Whether that's intentional or not is irrelevant; if I cannot find much of a reason to care about the characters I am not going to watch the show. You can make the characters unlikeable and unsympathetic, but there has to be some sort of core reason for me to become invested in the outcome. Eastbound and Down gave us probably one of the worst examples of a human being in television history but also enough character hooks to keep it interesting; maybe Girls will do the same (and I'll watch for a while to find out) but that first episode did nothing for me.

In conclusion, bring on Veep.
posted by HostBryan at 8:51 AM on April 17, 2012


Man, I just do not see the privelege angle at all.

I just, what? Really? The girl has been living in New York City on her parents' dime. That's privileged. The fact that it's not a penthouse doesn't change the fact that it looks like a pretty damn nice place to live (they have a living room! Individual bedrooms! It's not next to a crack den!), especially given that she doesn't have a job. I mean, the whole discussion about not working at McDonald's because she went to college (as an English major)--that whole conversation was supposed to reflect their entitlement and privileged background.
posted by schroedinger at 8:54 AM on April 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


Huh, and less the "as an English major" be a crack against English majors, what I meant was having the privilege to develop an expectation that being an English major would bring in the big bucks.
posted by schroedinger at 8:55 AM on April 17, 2012


Lest. Lest.
posted by schroedinger at 8:55 AM on April 17, 2012


The implicit message is that this is the life all girls should have, and if your circumstances prevent you from ever having this, you're not really a girl.

I think this reads far, far, far too much into the title, and I am known to be sensitive to the point of oversensitive about such things. I think it's fairly clear from the content of the pilot, as opposed to the TITLE of the pilot, that this is not intended to be an idealized way to live nor the way everyone should live.

As for how she behaved at Oberlin (a place where MANY people could be found whose perception of their own worldliness/wisdom outstripped their maturity when I was there), I'm not sure I can fault a show for the fact that it still helps -- in any business, not just this one -- to know or be related to people who are already in that business. Of course it does. It helps if you work construction or write novels or want to be an architect. But you know, I know a lot of people who were not related to anyone famous who have also done far better for themselves than many other people who are far more talented. That's a pretty basic part of life, and I can't really hold this show any more responsible for it than any other show, I don't think.

Which brings me to shameless self-promotion. Not knowing much of anything about her personally, I'm trying to figure out how "she was a shameless self-promoter" fits with "she was handed success by her parents." I don't always like people who hustle and sell themselves, partly because I am terrible at it, but I will tell you, in my experience, it is the single biggest factor in accounting for a difference between talent and success. So if you're right that she's more successful than other people who you believe are more talented, I suspect you're exactly right that she's ... a shameless self-promoter. Shameless self-promoters can certainly make me crazy and I don't necessarily want to hang out with them if they can't think about anything else, but I don't really think they're doing anything wrong. Hustle is ... necessary, in many cases.

I can't resist adding that I don't remember the last time a show (or movie or whatever) created by a young man created this much cultural discussion of whether he deserved his success on such a personal level. I find it concerning.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 9:05 AM on April 17, 2012 [11 favorites]


I liked it and thought it was well-written (though a little self-indulgent). Reminds me a lot of My So-Called Life somehow.
posted by lubujackson at 9:08 AM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


The whole privileged peoples problems criticism that I see leveled at this show strikes me as complete bullshit. I mean it's true, the main characters are by most standards pretty privileged if not in the present tense (shitty relationship, shitty job, not enough money to live) in the sense of trajectory with the bonus of nearly complete insulation from shit getting too bad.

But that seems like a really stupid reason to not like a show unless you only watch sitcoms about Senegalese child soldiers. This show is rightly viewed as especially realistic because

1) These characters are for the most part not phenomenally successful, they are not unrealistically lucky. 2) Within the parameters that the show establishes for them they are treated fairly realistically, Hannah is the daughter of two college professors living in new york what is possible for her is close to what is possible for the daughter of two college professors living in new york. 3) The show is aware of to the point of being about the level of privileged that the characters have. 4) Outside of legit crushing poverty or close temporal proximity to extreme adversity or good fortune our basic human happiness is not particularly tied to our level of privilege. The extent to which we suffer and experience joy is not significantly altered. The narratives we enroll ourselves are subjectively dramatic no matter the absolute stakes. 5) It is weird how much I am hearing this criticism, it's reactionary and sort of nasty. With Woody Allen people note the same kind of thing and chalk it up to eccentricity. I can't remember anyone dismissing the suffering in Wild Strawberries because really an esteemed professor, how much could they suffer really?
posted by I Foody at 9:08 AM on April 17, 2012 [22 favorites]


@Linda_Holmes:
I can't resist adding that I don't remember the last time a show (or movie or whatever) created by a young man created this much cultural discussion of whether he deserved his success on such a personal level. I find it concerning.
You should hang out when my friends and I talk about Dave Eggers, Judd Apatow, David Foster Wallace and Jonathan Safran Foer.
posted by littlerobothead at 9:10 AM on April 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


I can't resist adding that I don't remember the last time a show (or movie or whatever) created by a young man created this much cultural discussion of whether he deserved his success on such a personal level.

Go back and look at some of the discussion about M. Night Shyamalan.
posted by spicynuts at 9:11 AM on April 17, 2012


You should hang out when my friends and I talk about Dave Eggers, Judd Apatow, David Foster Wallace and Jonathan Safran Foer.

Are those discussions about the quality of their work, or about whether they're "snobby" or "bratty," which is the kind of thing I'm talking about?
posted by Linda_Holmes at 9:11 AM on April 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


So yeah, it's a bit self indulgent, privileged and yaddiyadda... but damned if I didn't laugh and relate to it in spite of it all.
posted by sunshinesky at 9:13 AM on April 17, 2012


I think The Grio critic got one thing about this show spot on
posted by RedShrek at 9:14 AM on April 17, 2012


To clarify: Not saying people don't talk about whether men deserve their success. Not saying that at all; people do that all the time, of course. I'm just saying that in my experience, it doesn't tend to be quite so much about the personal narrative and whether the guy is, as a human being, adequately deserving: Who are his parents? Who did he hang out with in college? Were his friends nice? Did he talk about himself too much?

Certainly not suggesting people don't go back and forth about whether men are as good as they're cracked up to be. Sorry; could have been clearer.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 9:15 AM on April 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


@Linda_Holmes Sort of both, I think. Eggers especially can have that snobby, bratty edge to what he does. I still like him a lot, though like I like Lena Dunham a lot.
posted by littlerobothead at 9:16 AM on April 17, 2012


Eggers especially can have that snobby, bratty edge to what he does.

Gotcha. Yeah, you're right. Eggers is a good example of where there is some of that. I may be wrong -- it has just been striking to me how personal a lot of the discussion is, although HBO may have invited some of that with the way they promoted it, maybe?

Anyway. Interesting.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 9:18 AM on April 17, 2012


I haven't seen Girls, and I probably will not (I am trying not to but it's gotten so much internet!) but I saw Tiny Furniture and maybe Girls is way different and artists grow and get older and learn things and Judd Apatow and "deconstructing Sex and the City" and now she is one of only two women with That Much Power in television and haters gonna hate and people are swooning and that's cool. It's all copasetic.

But Tiny Furniture was this unique (I thought, though, maybe not) breed of over-educated entitled private school liberalism that is especially insidious because it is charming and "self-aware" (it will tell you endlessly how self-aware it is and how that makes everything else it does okay) and has read a LOT of books (but also, gosh, I can't stop reading these self-help books/watching these bad reality shows etc. etc. etc.) and would knock you right off your feet at a dinner party (if you're into that kind of thing) and its politics are almost but not quite right-on (in this case, there is lots of Feminist Theory being trotted out) but actually it exists only to justify its own existence and thereby perpetuate itself endlessly, endlessly, endlessly. It is wealthy intellectuals thrilling at the verisimilitude of representations of themselves. All the post-hoc, "I think I did a pretty good job of dealing with privilege" stuff is ridiculous. She wrote what she knew and what she knows makes some people pretty mad. That's the whole thing.

Coming from a gilded world doesn't make you de facto bad but when you start making art about your gilded world and basically just shoot a feature length injoke exclusively starring and for your actually very small scene of friends in New York (who all live, act, think, joke, eat just like you and also incidentally tend to consider themselves arbiters of, let's not say taste, but certainly of 'the intellectual discourse') and then that piece of work is praised to high heaven as some Important Generational Touchstone (even if this particular accolade is not your doing, though I am not sure what else one is shooting for when they write autobiography at 20-whatever?), you can't get all defensive about how it's not fair to pick on the rich kids.

Now, that's just Tiny Furniture. This new one, I do not know. Maybe it is mean and knowing and self-aware and funny the way Whit Stillman is (though the more I read about him as a person, the more I get kind of weirded out, so I have been trying not to do that, actually).

And maybe it's being "young" and "struggling" in New York City in my own way and knowing people like this (casually) and having met people like this (briefly) and seeing people like this inevitably flourish through no particular anything of their own except connections and leisure time. And yes, there's some bitterness there and yes, there's some what do you call it, class rage there, but why the fuck not? I don't know why I have to be okay with Brian Williams' daughter and Laurie Simmons' daughter and David Mamet's daughter all getting together and talking about themselves and their lives at length like it is something normal and then suffer the additional indignity of this avalanche of blog grit (written largely by friends, acquaintances and people who traffic in her scene) about how it also MEANS SOMETHING to us all.

I will survive. I will be okay. I will stop reading hype soon and Lena Dunham is probably a totally fine human being and I would like her in real life (though maybe she would not like me?), and it's easy to talk shit on the internet but Tiny Furniture was Bad Art in that its creation, outlook, impact and ideals are the result of a lot of awful things in society that (mostly) are not her fault and are just the pits but she did not even begin to engage with them in earnest and it made me just want to move to Nebraska and raise sorghum and then go out into the sorghum and shoot my stupid face off with a rusty bolt action somethingoranother.
posted by StopMakingSense at 9:19 AM on April 17, 2012 [33 favorites]


I enjoyed the first episode. I think it sort of nailed that upper middle class liberal arts grad post-college feel when you're realizing that the people you considered your peers are playing by different rules and you've got to like, grow up and do adult stuff and make adult compromises.

I mean yeah, that whole framing is coming from an already incredibly privileged place but I imagine it's one that a big chunk of HBO's subscriber base can relate to.
posted by ghharr at 9:26 AM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I haven't watched this Girls thing since I don't have HBO, but somebody mentioned Two Broke Girls above. I enjoy that show, but does anybody beside me watch it and think 'Shlemiel Shlamozzel Hassenpfeffer Incorporated....'
posted by jonmc at 9:39 AM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'll be the first to admit that I dislike criticism of the show based upon the circumstances of the creator and actresses involved in the show. I don't necessarily think that Dunham's conduct as a student at Oberlin is particularly relevant to my appreciation of the show on it's own merits.

It doesn't really matter to me if she's fabulous talented or is coasting on the connections of her family and acquaintances. It doesn't matter to me how much of her success is dependent on the generosity of Apatow. What really matters to me is whether the show works and in that estimation it doesn't really succeed.

Part of the reason for it not succeeding for me is the myopic privilege of the main character (which might or might not be related to the creator's own privilege) but while there are definitely elements of the character that obviously resonate with viewers especially some critics within the blogosphere I think fundamentally the main character's lack of self awareness, almost complete self absorption, yet fundamental lack of self confidence just makes her really unlikeable (if somewhat relatable). Now maybe the first season will change my mind as she is forced to struggle with the loss of support from family and grow as a person but I'm not sure we are going to get that arc.
posted by vuron at 9:41 AM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


timsneezed: “I knew Lena Dunham at Oberlin and she was probably the most annoying, shameless self promoter there. She was a part of a clique of bratty NY girls who all went to the same private schools and only hung out with each other. She's talented but I feel like she's been helped immensely by her family connections, rich upbringing and the mentorship of Judd Apatow.”

Jon_Evil: “This matches my experiences with Dunham as well. I try not to hold grudges or get jealous of the success of my peers, but there were so many kids with so much more talent who could have do so much more brilliant things who are now waiting tables or working at the mall because they didn't have famous artists for parents. Life isn't fair, I know, but it sure does make me grit my teeth a whole bunch.”

I don't have a whole lot to say about this TV show, though I did watch the first episode. But I want to state for the record that this whole 'I knew her in college, trust me, she sucked' thing is really ugly. Can we not do that? It's exceedingly petty – seriously, it's bad enough when people brag about having known people way back when, and this is worse – and moreover it's completely beside the point. Annoying or even terrible people have grown up to be perfectly nice human beings before. People should be allowed to do that without having people talk shit about them on the internet for the rest of their lives. And even if Ms Dunham is still an awful person – that's making the audacious assumption that you two are actually telling objective truth about her, which I wouldn't bet on – terrible people have made great TV shows before, so her personal character really doesn't enter into this at all.
posted by koeselitz at 9:43 AM on April 17, 2012 [23 favorites]


I liked "Bored to Death" so I'm not saying that stories about privileged underachievers in Brooklyn have no place on HBO ... but there are so many awesome stories to be told about 20-somethings who are actually doing things.

I'd watch the heck out of "Lieutenants" (24 year olds commanding 40-man platoons in Afghanistan for $35k a year and PX privileges) or "Analysts" (24 year olds working 100 hours a week to put together billion dollar deals -- some of them even take the subway from Brooklyn!). "Girls" not so much.
posted by MattD at 9:45 AM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


But this show is on HBO, which has favored longer character arcs and "novelistic" television, so I suspect it won't use the traditional sitcom structure.
Agreed - I guess, although I understand how it's been marketed, Girls seems less like a sitcom and more like something that could choose to be, y'know, good. *
I'd like to see more stories about the people who grow up with this fairy tale that you can 'find yourself, follow your dreams, struggle and find your true self" and then FAIL.
Actually that's the kind of affirmation I was thinking of. I don't really want to see this character get through bad boyfriends and job hunting to become a semi-successful essayist, I definitely don't want her to luck in to writing films about herself and her friends, bankrolled by her parents and end up producing a show on HBO. I think I'd like to see her totally fuck it all up, pack up and go home, face some actual trauma that puts her priorities in perspective and find a path that does actually work out for her, orthogonal to the expectations she's set for herself and absorbed form her surroundings. Doing so by leveraging her actual talents, empathy she develops over time, ingenuity she's developed overcoming real adversity, and lessons she's learned by fucking it up would be icing on the cake. And, I stand by: could be hilarious, because these characters aren't without the potential for depth or three-dimensionality.


* Not knocking all sitcoms, because some artists are sharpened by strict structures, but the format discourages introspection and undermines most attempts to grow characters, so it comes with a blinking red expiration date even on those you come to enjoy or love which almost invariably choose to grind themselves into suck instead of quitting while they're on top.
posted by abulafa at 9:49 AM on April 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


I enjoyed the first episode. I think it sort of nailed that upper middle class liberal arts grad post-college feel when you're realizing that the people you considered your peers are playing by different rules and you've got to like, grow up and do adult stuff and make adult compromises.

Totally agree, ghharr.

Privilege + depression = tiny grapes of wrath!
posted by Jody Tresidder at 9:51 AM on April 17, 2012


I don't know what she was like at Oberlin, but my wife has talked with Lena a couple of times recently and came away with a very positive impression. I hope nobody from college ever judges me years later based solely on their college experience with me, because I am sure I did my share of obnoxious and annoying things back then.

I also don't understand why people aren't viewing the pilot as a critque of the four protagonists. They are all privileged, but I saw the pilot as basically making fun of their delusions and insularity. I did not find the characters particualrly likeable, but I found them interesting. I don't believe the intent is for the viewer to feel sympathetic to these characters.
posted by Falconetti at 9:53 AM on April 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


Wow, a lot of comments about privilege and the unlikeable lead character. Is "privilege" this generation's version of "selling out"? Seems to be a pretty damning epithet, unfortunately one that says nothing about the person or their actions. I'm surprised how that background really seems to cut off any empathy people might feel for this character.

No question she comes from a privileged background and lives in a bubble. Stealing the housekeeper's tip is a very cold characterization, but not unexpected given her background of getting what she wants without even thinking about it. Seems to me the show is really going to be about popping this bubble of privilege and her becoming an actual person. Because she's basically Rachel from Friends.

What I think is interesting about the show is how despite her privileged background she is in no position to succeed or be independent at all. Basically she's flopping around like a fish out of water with no money, no job, and parents who just said to her face she is cut off (and haven't raised her to deal with that). She's not particularly attractive or surrounded by good friends. She has no marketable skills or contacts. So how is her past privilege helping her now? Maybe this reaction is a little bit of kicking the aristocrat in the rear, but it seems like every characterization they made in the pilot stripped away any advantage she might have previously held.

I feel like her character, despite past privilege, really is lost and alone at this point. That by itself does not make her totally sympathetic, but my god, I can't understand the jealousy people seem to have. Be jealous for the life she came from and for the opportunities she had, and maybe angry at how she didn't take advantage of them, but at this point I can't see her as anything but pathetic.
posted by lubujackson at 9:54 AM on April 17, 2012 [12 favorites]


terrible people have made great TV shows before, so her personal character really doesn't enter into this at all.

It may be a derail or unimportant to the discussion of the show on its own merits, but I don't think it's wrong to consider a person's character when deciding whether to patronize their business. A terrible person may make great art, but that doesn't mean you necessarily want to reward them for it.
posted by jedicus at 9:56 AM on April 17, 2012


(And I should say that I take no position on what Dunham is like as a person and have no stake in that discussion.)
posted by jedicus at 9:58 AM on April 17, 2012


my god, I can't understand the jealousy people seem to have

It isn't jealousy. It's irritation at her expecting to be supported by her parents even though she's an adult, and the fact we're supposed to in some sense sympathize with that feeling and find her 'struggle' appealing.
posted by unSane at 10:02 AM on April 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


Man I just cannot bring myself to care about the problems of rich people in Brooklyn. It's just a slightly different angle on rich white folks in New York City, and there are only so many stories you can tell about them.
posted by troika at 10:04 AM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


unSane, if I felt like I was supposed to sympathize with her I'd dislike this show a lot more than I do. But I think mostly we're supposed to laugh at her.
posted by enn at 10:06 AM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't feel sympathy for her, but I identify with her. She's selfish and awkward. I totes get it.
posted by notmydesk at 10:07 AM on April 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


Wow, a lot of comments about privilege and the unlikeable lead character. Is "privilege" this generation's version of "selling out"? Seems to be a pretty damning epithet, unfortunately one that says nothing about the person or their actions. I'm surprised how that background really seems to cut off any empathy people might feel for this character.

No question she comes from a privileged background and lives in a bubble. Stealing the housekeeper's tip is a very cold characterization, but not unexpected given her background of getting what she wants without even thinking about it.


For me, it was precisely this action--again, the action of stealing the housekeeper's tip, not her background--that made her irredeemable for me. It constituted a character moral event horizon which made it wholly impossible for me to empathize.

(Following it with the only live shot of a black character, who is characterized as homeless/ranting/scary, didn't help.)
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:08 AM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I knew Lena Dunham at Oberlin and she was probably the most annoying, shameless self promoter there.

Change the name, school and gender, and this sentence would probably said of any then-reasonably ambitious, now-reasonably successful creative person, by someone who knew them in college and didn't particularly like that person very much. I have no doubt it could be said of me, because -- surprise! -- I was definitely a self-promoter then (as now), and that sort of behavior rubs some people the wrong way.

In general I believe people should get amnesty from being judged by their college years once they leave them. College isn't the real world, and 18-to-22 year olds are still figuring out who the hell they're supposed to be as viable humans.
posted by jscalzi at 10:16 AM on April 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


I miss Oberlin!
posted by Hobbacocka at 10:22 AM on April 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


There are a number of classics about privileged people in New York struggling with things that don't afflict most of us at all.

They may or may not be your cup of tea. But I've found that it's really not a good criteria to just flat-out hate something.
posted by Ndwright at 10:22 AM on April 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


I was pretty immature in college. Fortunately, I have never been successful enough to be discussed on an online forum.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 10:23 AM on April 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


(addenda: not comparing girls with any of the linked films w/r/t artistic merit, just pointing out that the "privileged New Yorkers" aspect applies to a huge variety of movies/entertainment. I didn't even link tv shows!)
posted by Ndwright at 10:24 AM on April 17, 2012


Change the name, school and gender, and this sentence would probably said of any then-reasonably ambitious, now-reasonably successful creative person, by someone who knew them in college and didn't particularly like that person very much. I have no doubt it could be said of me, because -- surprise! -- I was definitely a self-promoter then (as now), and that sort of behavior rubs some people the wrong way.

In general I believe people should get amnesty from being judged by their college years once they leave them. College isn't the real world, and 18-to-22 year olds are still figuring out who the hell they're supposed to be as viable humans.


I think the difference in this case is that her work can't be separated from her personality. In fact she's basically selling her personality. The persona she has created for Tiny Furniture and now this show is entirely in keeping with her real life personality (albeit slightly more toned down and sympathetic), which suggests that she hasn't matured much.
posted by timsneezed at 10:25 AM on April 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


The persona she has created for Tiny Furniture and now this show is entirely in keeping with her real life personality...

I'm glad you two were able to overcome your differences and become friends after college. It's good to have someone in your life that you know so well.
posted by griphus at 10:28 AM on April 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


I try not to hold grudges or get jealous of the success of my peers, but there were so many kids with so much more talent
who could have do so much more brilliant things who are now waiting tables or working at the mall because they didn't have
famous artists for parents.


Oh my God! You mean her dad is that comedian puppet guy?
posted by msalt at 10:29 AM on April 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


just pointing out that the "privileged New Yorkers" aspect applies to a huge variety of movies/entertainment

A huge variety....of privileged New Yorkers. They're still privileged New Yorkers, and I don't find that subject all that interesting. I would like to see different characters in a different setting get the kind of attention this show receives.

As a twentysomething lady, I guess I am supposed to see something special in this show? But I don't. There's a whole world full of stories out there, it's time to tell some new ones.
posted by troika at 10:29 AM on April 17, 2012


I'm glad you two were able to overcome your differences and become friends after college. It's good to have someone in your life that you know so well.


She has changed dramatically since college but is still writing about herself as if she has exactly the same personality that she did back then, viewing it through the lens of ironic self awareness now. Possible? Sure.
posted by timsneezed at 10:39 AM on April 17, 2012


Hey griphus, I liked this show! What did you think? I thought it was weird to hear the mom from Freaks and Geeks say 'fucking' so much. I also thought it was interesting that the characters got to be funny in the way that real people are funny, like telling each other small jokes that aren't hilarious but are clever enough that in a real situation you'll laugh, and not sitcom-jokey. I thought it was neat!
posted by shakespeherian at 10:53 AM on April 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


timsneezed: “I think the difference in this case is that her work can't be separated from her personality. In fact she's basically selling her personality. The persona she has created for Tiny Furniture and now this show is entirely in keeping with her real life personality (albeit slightly more toned down and sympathetic), which suggests that she hasn't matured much.”

Then criticize the show, and you will be implicitly criticizing her personality. People who are smart will get it that you don't like her. And we wouldn't have to wade through this petty bullshit about how you thought she was cliquish and snobby in college, which isn't even remotely objective nor even really credible, since hardly anyone reading this thread has met either of you.

And, since it seems like this needs to be said a lot around here – Metafilter is an incredibly popular web site. It's not extremely unlikely that Lena Dunham would actually come here and read this thread. Hell, it's even possible that she might have an account, or at least that she might get one to respond here. This kind of thing has happened many, many times on Metafilter.

So yeah, have your private beef with people, dislike them because of the way they acted in college, whatever. You may be absolutely right about her, I clearly have no idea. But saying this stuff here is pretty much a really bad idea.
posted by koeselitz at 10:53 AM on April 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Of COURSE they're selfish brats, that's the point. But I think both the movie and this pilot shows that she's self-aware enough to make a strong show that exploits the narcissism of her time and place.
posted by stratastar at 10:54 AM on April 17, 2012


Girls: TV about Trustafarians for Trustafarians BY Trustafarians.

When I saw that Chris Eigeman (of Whit Stillman's movies) was playing her boss (and very much in character as one of his Stillmanesque characters), I thought "And lo, The Torch of The Burden of The Self-Importance of Young White Privilege is being passed."

Then I discovered that Lena Dunham is the daughter of Laurie Simmons, the roommate is played by Brian William's daughter, the roommate's flighty cousin is played by the daughter of the drummer from Free & Bad Company, and another of the characters is played by the daughter of David Mamet (yes, him).

So, yeah, you know what? This show is DRENCHED in privilege. They might as well call this thing "The Real Housewives of Williamsburg." And that's where the Louie comparison breaks down. At least Louie C.K. is honest enough to acknowledge that the show is riffing off his real life and that the guy on TV is a semi-fictionalized version of himself. Girls puts a wall up between the real life Privilege of Lena Dunham & Co. and the on screen Privilege of their characters that is being satirized.
posted by KingEdRa at 10:58 AM on April 17, 2012 [7 favorites]


For me, it was precisely this action--again, the action of stealing the housekeeper's tip, not her background--that made her irredeemable for me.

This is a pretty interesting plot point. I totally get your perspective: over-privileged white girl steals $20 from some hardworking housekeeper who earned that tip.

But there's more going on here. At any other point of their lives the girl might be more privileged than the housekeeper. But at this precise moment? You could argue she's literally stealing that money to eat. Not to mention that she might have (wrongly) thought of it as taking from her parents rather than the housekeeper. Deplorable either way, but as a way to characterize her situation, it neatly ties together both her current desperation and her selfish approach. I think you're only seeing it from the selfish angle.

Now if in episode two she's wearing a nice new pair of shoes she bought with the money, then I'm on board - she's irredeemable. And either way this is probably a hopelessly insufferable character who is going to grow in the most boring and predictable way (oh yay I got a job at a fashion magazine!) but I'm holding out hope that this goes off in some unexpected direction.
posted by lubujackson at 11:04 AM on April 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


alternate Girls promo poster

haven't watched this yet but I read somewhere "8 minutes in and someone has said Facebook 3 times, and now I want to die" so I think I'll pass.
posted by porn in the woods at 11:05 AM on April 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


I feel a lot like the author of the hairpin article linked above. From what I've seen it looks funny -- and very much self-aware -- but, man, it's 2012: for how much longer will be seeing things that claim to be empowering or addressing women that then focus on white women to the exclusion or minimization of all others? Sojourner Truth said, "Ain't I a woman?" in 1851 for Christ's sake.
posted by lord_wolf at 11:07 AM on April 17, 2012


But there's more going on here. At any other point of their lives the girl might be more privileged than the housekeeper. But at this precise moment? You could argue she's literally stealing that money to eat.

Except she repeatedly rules out the option of getting a job when it's mentioned by multiple parties throughout the episode.

Whether or not she buys shoes with it, she's taking that money from someone who worked for it in order to subsidize a lifestyle beyond her means that she's not willing to work to support.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:11 AM on April 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Hey griphus, I liked this show! What did you think?

I haven't watched it yet! I probably should, but I tend to avoid shows/movies that attempt at realistic portrayals of my social milieu (young people from Brooklyn in this case) because it makes me feel (irrationally, I'd like to add) like I'm some sort of recluse.

But thanks to this thread, I think I'm going to have to both watch it and force myself to enjoy it out of sheer spite.
posted by griphus at 11:18 AM on April 17, 2012


I found it interesting that of all the ways she thought of to earn and keep money, moving out of New York City was not an option. Not even brought up.
posted by girlmightlive at 11:29 AM on April 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


I've never been a fan of 'uncomfortable' comedies like the Office (UK version) so perhaps that accounts for why I didn't enjoy many parts of the show. But ultimately my problem was that I basically disliked all the main characters. Sure, they're young, it's a hard life, etc, but that doesn't mean you need to be an asshole. I understand that that's the point of the story, that these people are unlikeable and they'll go on some Apatowesque character arc over time, and that their unknowing privilege is also the point. That's fine.

The issue is that usually such character have some redeeming qualities at least peeking out at the beginning. Perhaps that's me just being sentimental about storytelling, but it's what I like. Maybe this is why I haven't bothered watching many other Apatow movies other than The 40 Year Old Virgin.

On a side note, I'm 29. I don't watch much TV so this is the first show I've seen of its type that features characters who are younger than me. I was lucky enough to grow up in the UK at a time when higher education was still effectively free, and we could all still get jobs after graduating, so I guess I'm at the very, very tail end of the Gen-Xers in that regard. But of course, the economy tanked and a lot of people I know who are just a few years younger are having a tough time, in a way that some people from older generations really don't seem to be sympathetic to.

It's genuinely interesting to see a drama/comedy tackle what life is like for these people. I think it's a shame that it's done in a way that makes the early 20s all look like total assholes.
posted by adrianhon at 11:33 AM on April 17, 2012


Then again, it's the pilot. Joke could be on me in a few years time!
posted by adrianhon at 11:34 AM on April 17, 2012


I think a deconstruction of the standard NYC 20 something comedy format is potentially valuable but the show just doesn't seem that honest. Even if you can ignore the likelihood that the major characters are all likely from upper middle class backgrounds whose lifestyle has been bankrolled in part by parents (or grandparents) it just seems to be about fundamentally selfish people doing short sighted and selfish things.

You know, as an NYC 20-something, I've occasionally thought it would be nice if someone made a show about people like me and my friends, who do things like hold down jobs, make more-or-less responsible decisions, and don't (and couldn't) rely on handouts from their parents. But, to paraphrase Hank Hill, possibly the squarest TV character in recent memory: the MTV's not gonna make a show about a guy who pays his rent on time.

Nobody's gonna make a TV show about me because, ultimately, I'm boring. And as queasy as I am with the idea of someone as privileged as Lena Dunham being the "voice" of my generation, I've gotta admit: maybe you have to be privileged to be the voice of a generation. But I've never really noticed before, because, until now, those voices were never talking about people my age, and so I was never looking at them and thinking "huh? I'm not like that."
posted by breakin' the law at 11:35 AM on April 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


I am incapable of differentiating between Bored To Death, Better Off Ted, and Reaper.

The cancellation of Better Off Ted was basically a crime against humanity; the cancellation of Reaper, not as much. Bored To Death? idk, Jason Schwartzmann is irritating so I don't watch it.

HOPE THAT HELPS.
posted by elizardbits at 11:38 AM on April 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


Then criticize the show, and you will be implicitly criticizing her personality. People who are smart will get it that you don't like her. And we wouldn't have to wade through this petty bullshit about how you thought she was cliquish and snobby in college, which isn't even remotely objective nor even really credible, since hardly anyone reading this thread has met either of you.

And, since it seems like this needs to be said a lot around here – Metafilter is an incredibly popular web site. It's not extremely unlikely that Lena Dunham would actually come here and read this thread. Hell, it's even possible that she might have an account, or at least that she might get one to respond here. This kind of thing has happened many, many times on Metafilter.

So yeah, have your private beef with people, dislike them because of the way they acted in college, whatever. You may be absolutely right about her, I clearly have no idea. But saying this stuff here is pretty much a really bad idea.


For the record I don't have a private beef with her, and I don't think she's a bad person -- just annoying and narcissistic. If you don't care about my opinion then that's totally fine. Personally, I'm always interested in hearing what a celebrity is like in private from people who have interacted with them.

I disagree with you that there's something inherently wrong about expressing these opinions online when we're talking about someone who has thrown themselves up for public dissection. She'd probably be more flattered than offended in the unlikely event that she ever found this thread.
posted by timsneezed at 11:41 AM on April 17, 2012


I found it interesting that of all the ways she thought of to earn and keep money, moving out of New York City was not an option. Not even brought up.

Well, for a lot of people it isn't, especially in this economy, and double-especially if they want a job in an industry that's centered in New York. At the very least, unless you're moving somewhere that's equally accessible by public transportation, you'll need to purchase a car -- what is that, like five figures at least? -- pay for insurance, gas, etc. From what I know about rent in places with actual job markets, the cost of that alone is higher than the amount of money saved in rent.
posted by griphus at 11:41 AM on April 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


From personal experience, I've moved around a bit, and I've never been able to spend as little money as I manage to in Brooklyn while still maintaining an active social life that wasn't just hanging out on assorted peoples' couches.
posted by griphus at 11:44 AM on April 17, 2012


Anybody remember when sitcoms were 30 minutes long and consisted of broad humor to help you unwind at the end of a shitty day and not people living more exciting lives than you and still managing to complain about it? Let's go back to that.

I just saw Ricky spanking Lucy.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:48 AM on April 17, 2012


Heh. The Guardian has declared HBO dead, on account of how hipsters do the "i don't have a television" thing these days.
posted by Artw at 11:50 AM on April 17, 2012


griphus, good points, but talking about the realism of the show, I'm surprised it wasn't even brought up as an option, especially assuming that the main character is a transplant. And if she wants to be a writer, I don't really see that as an industry centered in New York.

For a lot of people it is an option. I know several who moved to NYC, couldn't afford it, then moved back home (one eventually moved back to New York).

I know people live in NYC frugally but it was still annoying to me to hear her refuse to get a job because she's an "artist" while living in the most expensive city in the country.
posted by girlmightlive at 11:50 AM on April 17, 2012


No one has HBO anymore because all the shows are easily downloaded, and despite their popularity, I can't see this crop of DVDs selling like Sopranos, Six Feet Under, or SATC did. Maybe I'm wrong.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:57 AM on April 17, 2012


The Guardian has declared HBO dead, on account of how hipsters do the "i don't have a television" thing these days.

Yeah, if there's anybody with their pulse on the cutting edge of hipness these days its a newspaper.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 12:00 PM on April 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


And if she wants to be a writer, I don't really see that as an industry centered in New York.

As far as I know, the publishing industry in America is based in NYC. That's where the agents are and that's where the publishers are. I mean, you can be a writer anywhere, but if you want people to pay you for it, maintaining a social circle that includes most of the country's literary agents and book publishers is how you do that.

Yeah, if there's anybody with their pulse on the cutting edge of hipness these days its a newspaper.

Hey now, the NYT Style Section won a Pulitzer for their reporting of hip trends in a parallel universe.
posted by griphus at 12:13 PM on April 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


"...maintaining a social circle in a place that..."
posted by griphus at 12:15 PM on April 17, 2012


I'm glad I read this thread because yesterday someone told me Lena Dunham is the daughter of the ventriloquist guy on Comedy Central. I guess the word is out that she's the daughter of someone prominent.
posted by cell divide at 12:18 PM on April 17, 2012


Falconetti: I also don't understand why people aren't viewing the pilot as a critque of the four protagonists. They are all privileged, but I saw the pilot as basically making fun of their delusions and insularity. I did not find the characters particualrly likeable, but I found them interesting. I don't believe the intent is for the viewer to feel sympathetic to these characters.
This. I had seen the ads for it during other HBO shows over the last couple of weeks, and it seemed like it would be more of a laugh-a-minute comedy that skewers the pretentious, self-important hipster girls (and often trustafarians) living in NYC. And when I watched it on a whim last night- other than not being more of a knee-slapper- that's basically what it was. The pilot didn't wow me, but I'll give it another episode or two before making a full decision.

What I find interesting is that a lot of the negative reaction isn't just "Meh" but "this show is oh-em-gee AWFUL!!!". I figure that breaks down into two camps:
  1. The get-offa-my-lawn types who simply loathe those privileged young women, the ones who act like their Eat-Pray-Love journey is just totes important, furrealz... and for some reason think this show is a straight-up glorification of those people and their lifestyle when it clearly is not.
  2. The actual privileged young women who thought they were, like, super special for having moved to NYC, who use "totes" in their FB status updates excessively and unironically... and who had a violently angry reaction to the show because it reflected an uncanny valley caricature of their own spoiled lives and vapid attitudes.
In other words, I think some of the people not liking it, don't like it because it's cutting really close to the bone for them. They may have tuned in hoping to see an updated SatC communion of like-minded young people... and instead found themselves being made fun of- and had just enough awareness to realize it. They looked into the mirror and found they really, really didn't like what they saw.

Regardless of the meta-weirdness of all of the leads and supporting cast being basically extraordinarily privileged children of fame or success acting as Larry David/Louie C.K. versions of themselves... this show to me is pretty clearly skewering and mocking this urban subculture as surely as Portlandia does its own regional hipster contingent. "Girls" might later strive to show some growth in their characters- or at least the lead- since it's not a sketch comedy show... but that's pretty hard to conclude from the pilot.
posted by hincandenza at 12:58 PM on April 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


No one has HBO anymore because all the shows are easily downloaded, and despite their popularity, I can't see this crop of DVDs selling like Sopranos, Six Feet Under, or SATC did. Maybe I'm wrong.

I assumed this was some sort of sarcasm until the "Maybe I'm wrong" part. In case it is not sarcasm, yes you are wrong.
posted by Justinian at 1:08 PM on April 17, 2012


hincandenza: you forgot:

3. Bored dudes hoping for nudity.
posted by jonmc at 1:12 PM on April 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


mrgrimm: “No one has HBO anymore because all the shows are easily downloaded, and despite their popularity, I can't see this crop of DVDs selling like Sopranos, Six Feet Under, or SATC did. Maybe I'm wrong.”

I don't even watch TV at all (I know, right?) but everyone I know who does claims that Game of Thrones is right up there with the best of them. I'm not sure how reliable that is, since I haven't seen it, but it does seem pretty popular.
posted by koeselitz at 1:12 PM on April 17, 2012


alternate Girls promo poster

Wait...are those supposed to be four different people?

Maybe they could do an inverse United States of Tara thing and have all four play the same role...I don't know I'd even notice.
posted by psoas at 1:17 PM on April 17, 2012


Actually, the Game of Thrones thing is really weird. I don't think I've ever seen such a generally glowing appreciation of a television across the grand spectrum of viewers as I have with that show. I have a few theories, but I think a big aspect is that it seems to have completely bypassed the Season-1-world-building mire ("Yeah, it's awesome, but the first few episodes are a slog" says everyone to everyone else about everything) that plagues even the best premium-channel shows.
posted by griphus at 1:17 PM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


No one ever went broke underestimating bored dudes hoping for nudity.
posted by griphus at 1:19 PM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


The "nobody watches HBO itself or buys DVDs" isn't even something which one needs an opinion on. The stats are out there; Game of Thrones sold more DVDs more quickly than any other HBO show, including True Blood. And that is only DVD and does not include BluRay, a format which did not exist in significant numbers for most previous HBO shows. So DVD + Blu Ray sales are even more skewed towards GoT.

No one ever went broke underestimating bored dudes hoping for nudity.

Have you seen Game of Thrones?
posted by Justinian at 1:21 PM on April 17, 2012


jonmc: 3. Bored dudes hoping for nudity.
Heh, well, hold tight, this is HBO; their motto out to be "Nudity is Coming".

Not to derail about GoT, but I hadn't read the books until after Season 1, and used the "Neeeerd!" insult on the FB friends posting excitedly as we neared the Season 1 premiere. Then... I caught up with it using OnDemand about the time of episode 5, and was hooked, and got other non-fantasy reading friends hooked as well. I went back and read all 5 books after Season 1 ended, and now am as Neeeerd! as those people I once mocked- alas.

My theory is that GRRM, having written for television, makes novels that are intensely visual, and perfectly suited for adaption to teleplay. Thus, rather than the slog of expositional episodes to start, we are thrust right into the action in media res: first the forest and white walkers, then the world of the Starks, which in a couple of minute we realize they are generally good people who are also rulers of their kingdom, then we once again "zoom out" and realize it's one of several kingdoms under the rule of another king, and there was a recent death... then "zoom out" again and there's a continent across the sea with its own characters, etc.

It all comes at us fast, and looking absolutely gorgeous, but they take care to mostly only show us as many characters or plot points as we need to know about, to keep up with things so far. You are left being overwhelmed with a truly epic landscape, and captivating action, without feeling like they are "telling" instead of "showing".
posted by hincandenza at 1:27 PM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


In other words, I think some of the people not liking it, don't like it because it's cutting really close to the bone for them.

In a world where there is Occupy Wall Street, riots over austerity, and crippling unemployment, you think that people are disgusted by a show where the daughter of a famous artist and her friends who are also daughters of famous people playing daughters of rich people who steal a maid's tip money because they are too similar to them?

There's also literally a magical negro.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 1:30 PM on April 17, 2012 [7 favorites]


I don't even watch TV at all (I know, right?) but everyone I know who does claims that Game of Thrones is right up there with the best of them.

Flash in the pan. I suspect popularity to fall off considerably, especially after the wedding. There are only so many masochists out there.
posted by mrgrimm at 1:42 PM on April 17, 2012


Sooooo, a flash in the pan which is extremely popular for only 4 seasons or so.
posted by Justinian at 1:43 PM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Have you seen Game of Thrones?

I have. It's about privileged white people making bad decisions, and there's one black character. One of the creators grew up in New York City, and his father was of the head of Goldman Sachs.
posted by gladly at 1:46 PM on April 17, 2012 [16 favorites]


that's quality snark right there.
posted by Justinian at 1:58 PM on April 17, 2012


Game of Thrones is D&D slash fiction. Sorry. Couldn't watch it.
posted by JPD at 1:59 PM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


You just summed up about 98% of show business.
This Judd guy must be pretty powerful. :-)
posted by smidgen at 2:01 PM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Null points for that snark though.
posted by Artw at 2:01 PM on April 17, 2012


Awww thread so cranky!!!

That being said, watching Girls just made me angrier that Bored to Death was cancelled. At least that show about priveleged white people in Brooklyn was fun.
posted by palidor at 2:06 PM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Of course, I started out watching Louie hoping for nudity, or at least shirtlessness, but my target demographic skews heavily towards average-looking scruffy fat guys with male pattern baldness and rambling monologues.

The thing about this show, for me, is that it feels like TV. It's got that produced quality to it, with written dialogue that can't quite shake its artifice. Too many cuts from scene to scene, too much cultivation, too much lighting intended to make people look good. Watching Louie, and how blotchy and sandy and rough he looks most of the time, you're in the opposite of HBOland. It remains to be seen how the show will change with the addition of Susan Morse, but we can hope it'll stay on track.

The biggest problem with comparing Louie to this is laid bare in the second link's title, "If Louie CK Were A 25-Year-Old Girl." The thing is—Louie couldn't be a 25-year-old girl, because the air and essence and weight of being a 44-year-old man is inseparable from a perspective that a 25-year-old will never have, no matter how precocious and brilliant they are. Likewise, a 25-year-old can't be like Louie CK, no matter how honest or vivid the writing may be. They can write about being 25, or step backwards, if they're in possession of a clear memory, but they're tapping into their now, and while some clever young writers can come up with a sort of passable simulacrum of wisdom and emotions earned through age and frustration, they just don't quite exist in the same space that someone older occupies.

I'm certainly in the minority, and my friends regale me with tales of how wonderful Mad Men and The Sopranos and other undeniably well-written shows are, and I've watched, but they just seem to exist in this universe that I'm supposed to inhabit by cinematic proxy. Louie is set in my own world, or at least a reasonable parallel dimension to my own, where people look like real people, and have real conversations, even when they're being played out in a context of magical realism. This is my own prejudice as a consumer of media, to be certain, and maybe Girls will find that place, too, but it's not there yet.
posted by sonascope at 2:08 PM on April 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


In a world where there is Occupy Wall Street, riots over austerity, and crippling unemployment, you think that people are disgusted by a show where the daughter of a famous artist and her friends who are also daughters of famous people playing daughters of rich people who steal a maid's tip money because they are too similar to them?

I bet those Occupy types are shaking their iPads with rage.
posted by Artw at 2:09 PM on April 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't even know what that is supposed to mean.
posted by entropicamericana at 2:28 PM on April 17, 2012


Since it's about the privileged lives of the children of accomplished people, maybe 'Girls' should have been named 'Daughters.'
posted by bestfreesurgery at 2:32 PM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


and did anyone else get a flashback to Winona Ryder's character in Reality Bites bitching about possibly having to work at the Gap when Hannah was freaking out about McDonalds


Me! I did! And I didn't see the show. I'm just going by this conversation and that's exactly what I thought of . God her character was loathsome. And two men fought over her sorry ass. And I watched it.

Ugh.
posted by vitabellosi at 2:48 PM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think what really bothers me about the comparison to Louie is that from what I saw of Girls, it seems to lack the awareness and self-loathing Louis CK is masterful at. I mean, as someone who is male and probably actually shares a number of personality traits with the protagonist of Girls, in that I've been indecisive and slow to act and have relied far too much on my parents, I couldn't bring myself to identify with the character at all because it didn't reflect my experience with the massive amount of self-loathing that comes with being privileged in some ways yet very much unsatisfied and poorly equipped to change that. I am admittedly judging the show before it's had a chance to prove itself, but I don't think my being male should prevent me from being able to or wanting to identify or empathize with the protagonist, and I just feel like if there isn't a great degree of character development this will just be another show where I hate the character(s) so much I can't watch it. I want to like it! I do! But comparing it to Louie really undervalues what Louis CK does, and perhaps it does the same to Lena Dunham, should she be successful in finding a unique voice.
posted by palidor at 2:52 PM on April 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


The Guardian has declared HBO dead, on account of how hipsters do the "i don't have a television" thing these days.

And yet they seem to watch a shit-ton of television shows.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:30 PM on April 17, 2012


girls backlash summed up
posted by timsneezed at 4:00 PM on April 17, 2012


Maybe we can talk about Game of Thrones instead! So, like, is anyone else having Omar flashback situations where someone is talking about how Tyrion is their favorite character, and you're just thinking "Oh, wow, really, Tyrion is your favorite? That's so surprising!" This has been happening to me lately. I mean, come on people let's be more creative when pointlessly choosing favorite characters!
posted by palidor at 4:16 PM on April 17, 2012


Well, he is the best.
posted by Artw at 4:17 PM on April 17, 2012


(Though the Omar thing puzzles me. Unless he gets more action outside Season 1? NO, NO, DO *NOT* TELL ME)
posted by Artw at 4:18 PM on April 17, 2012


I mean Omar in the sense that he's a kind of outsider badass that says witty things and will obviously be everyone's favorite character.
posted by palidor at 4:26 PM on April 17, 2012


Oh, I thought you meant the point where Tyrion is beheaded by Cersei in book 3, after he seduces and sleeps with Sansa, disrupting the royal wedding plans.

Why, does Omar have a similar end in "The Wire"?
posted by hincandenza at 4:29 PM on April 17, 2012


I am just being a favorite character elitist where I judge people based on how obscure and unpopular their favorite characters are. I am outing myself as a Favorite Character Hipster
posted by palidor at 4:29 PM on April 17, 2012


GO TEAM JOFFERY!
posted by Artw at 4:30 PM on April 17, 2012


BRB assassinating hincandenza

I am so terrified of accidental Internet Game of Thrones spoilers that some days I think I should just go ahead and read the books so I won't have The Fear anymore
posted by palidor at 4:31 PM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Why, does Omar have a similar end in "The Wire"?

Totally different situation for Omar. After he kills Bunk, he just kind of fades out of the story, as one does in a Simon show occasionally.
posted by eyeballkid at 4:31 PM on April 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


BUNK WILL NEVER DIE!
posted by Artw at 4:31 PM on April 17, 2012


For me, it was precisely this action--again, the action of stealing the housekeeper's tip, not her background--that made her irredeemable for me.

Irredeemable? She makes a stupid, impulsive decision when life as she knows it is falling apart, and you think she can never be more moral than that in future?

How boring TV would be if nobody ever made bad decisions or struggled with their conscience.

Jeez.
posted by robcorr at 4:41 PM on April 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Irredeemable? She makes a stupid, impulsive decision when life as she knows it is falling apart

Yeah. I mean if taking $20 out of an envelope when you've just had your world turned upside down (no matter if that world had been privileged or not) makes you irredeemable, how many redeemable people are there in the world? Eleven and nine of those are in comas?
posted by Justinian at 4:43 PM on April 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


How boring TV would be if nobody ever made bad decisions or struggled with their conscience.

Jeez.


But nothing in the narrative suggested that she actually "struggled with her conscience."

I mean if taking $20 out of an envelope when you've just had your world turned upside down (no matter if that world had been privileged or not) makes you irredeemable, how many redeemable people are there in the world? Eleven and nine of those are in comas?

Sorry, but no. This is not something I'd ever do, and isn't something most of the people I know would do, either. It seems we're meant to empathize--to think that Hannah's selfishness is somehow universal. I don't, and can't.

Maybe you can, but that's not a perspective I'd like to project on the world at large. I think most people are better than that.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 4:54 PM on April 17, 2012


This whole debate reminds me of having to read Catcher in the Rye so many years ago. At the time I wasn't sure why this book was assigned to us in high school. Mark Twain made sense - it was about race and culture. The Crucible was about the madness of crowds and how good people can end up all doing the wrong thing. The Old Man and the Sea was about aging and losing the one thing you spent your life trying to achieve. (You can judge my interpretations freely. I was not a particularly good student.)

But Catcher in the Rye? Some prep school rich kid wandering around Manhattan? It didn't seem to connect to anything. I shrugged it off, enjoyed the swear word and wrote my book report.

Years later, a friend from a very, very privileged background and I were talking about books we read in high school. When Catcher came up she commented that 'That was the first time I read something that was about me - about the struggle of adolescence.' Then it struck me: they made us read Catcher because it was about us! Of Course!

I still laugh when I picture our Idealistic English Teacher getting excited to introduce us to literature that included us, that enfranchised us into the cannon.

I laugh as he stood in front of the room, looking at all those black faces*, and thinking how today we'd see the possibilities literature holds for each of us on a personal level.

*for the record: I'm white, but grew up in less than remarkable circumstances. Also for the record: I'm clearly privileged now and my children are very likely to be, so this issue runs pretty deep with me and yet is riddled with contradictions.
posted by elwoodwiles at 5:03 PM on April 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


Girls is somehow supposed to be about us, so that we see our struggles in the story. We are supposed to identify with it. Yet, no one involved in this show (in story or in real life) appears to know anyone outside of their circle of privilege. It swings and misses it's own point.
posted by elwoodwiles at 5:06 PM on April 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Maybe you can, but that's not a perspective I'd like to project on the world at large. I think most people are better than that.

I think lots of people wouldn't do what she did at that particular moment.

I also think that most people have done something at some point in their lives which was far worse. Hell, something like 2/3 of people have cheated on an SO which I would consider a lot worse than taking a $20 out of an envelope your parents left for housekeeping after being essentially dumped out on your ass to fend for yourself with no life skills (deserved or not). Tons of people shoplift stuff worth a lot more than $20. And so on.

Either you're a one in a million saint or you've done something in your life which is worse than what we saw happen. Are you irredeemable?
posted by Justinian at 5:47 PM on April 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


No, but then we're not protagonists in a TV show either. Hey ho.
posted by unSane at 5:48 PM on April 17, 2012


elwoodwiles: Girls is somehow supposed to be about us, so that we see our struggles in the story. We are supposed to identify with it. Yet, no one involved in this show (in story or in real life) appears to know anyone outside of their circle of privilege. It swings and misses it's own point.
Look, I could be proven wrong, but based on what we saw in the pilot you are "begging the question". You're assuming that we're supposed to see "ourselves" (if 'we' are younger women) in these characters, or our own struggles, or to identify with it.

And... I don't think that can be shown! We're shown to start as our presumably principle lead a vapid young woman who whiningly feels entitled to live indefinitely off her parents' teat. We meet entitled hipsters in NYC, such as the character who rambles at length about which 'SatC' mix she and others are. We meet a hipster "world traveler" who is defined by her put-upon airs of being jaded and seen-it-all, her rudeness and self-centered behavior, and how she has a (dumb) story to out-do everyone else, for every occasion. We meet a fuckbuddy/boyfriend (probable sociopath) who tosses around appropriate language about avoiding wageslavery... while living off his grandma's $800/mo. We meet the overly-flirty character (one of whom I believe made reference to Burning Man?), with their mindless chit-chat. The closest we get to a "sympathetic" character was the opium tea guy, who at least a little took the piss out of these hipsters with his rant on why McDonald's is fine (then again, in this crowd even his reactionary comments might just be another pose).

In other words, I don't think one single character came across as likeable or sympathetic, and I think the dialogue and scenes give us no indication that we're supposed to feel that way. I don't know why you think this is supposed to be a sympathetic story about sympathetic people, any more than lots of other shows ranging from "Curb Your Enthusiasm" to "Dexter".

And that's why I think there's such a negative reaction to it: those people who are whiny, self-important, and young- who think they are special because they take Instagram photos of their night out at some Brooklyn bar, or because they totes are going to India/Africa this summer, because they have an etsy account and a pinterest account- probably hated this show instantly, on some level recognizing enough of themselves to feel a vague sense of unease as these characters are mocked or revealed as basically awful people.
posted by hincandenza at 5:50 PM on April 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


How about a show with young women trying to make it in a small town in rural America. It could be Shameless/East Enders meets Sex And The City/Girls. It could be a fuck ton more gritty and less of that angsty but insincere introspection. I know, maybe it's not insincere, but it strikes me as insincere.

Plus you could have bits like "LouAnn loses her job at Dairy Queen but gets drunk and wins the Wet TShirt Contest". OMG I should be a producer. Maybe a tie-in with Eastbound and Down, that would be so awesome.


I really wish that working-class rural people could get more than one sitcom (Roseanne) and one drama (Friday Night Lights) from network TV every 30 years, like, fine that we have a tax structure and social safety net that has completely forgotten us, but we can't even get a spot on must-see TV?
posted by Snarl Furillo at 5:56 PM on April 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Either you're a one in a million saint or you've done something in your life which is worse than what we saw happen. Are you irredeemable?

. . . I haven't cheated on any SOs, shoplifted, or done what she did. I don't think I'm that unusual.

I just watched it again with my husband because I wanted to see what he thought. I was able to enjoy it more when I just put myself in the mindset that I was watching Larry David and didn't have to like the "girls." I think it's the idea of identification that I was getting caught up on--the idea that her experiences are universal or particularly emblematic of the experiences of women my age.

And that's why I think there's such a negative reaction to it: those people who are whiny, self-important, and young- who think they are special because they take Instagram photos of their night out at some Brooklyn bar, or because they totes are going to India/Africa this summer, because they have an etsy account and a pinterest account- probably hated this show instantly, on some level recognizing enough of themselves to feel a vague sense of unease as these characters are mocked or revealed as basically awful people.

I know you're really attached to this reading hincandenza, but the most vocal support I've read of the show are of people who do feel like it's representative of their experiences. As notmydesk said, "She's selfish and awkward. I totes get it." I don't think it's beyond the realm of imagining that perhaps the people most rubbed the wrong way by this are those who resent the idea that privileged lives of these characters are meant to be representative of their experiences--because they are not, in fact, privileged. Hell, I relished the moments these characters were called out on their selfishness. And I'm closer to Lena's demographic (but, well, poor) than her parents'.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 6:01 PM on April 17, 2012


I haven't cheated on any SOs, shoplifted, or done what she did. I don't think I'm that unusual.

The specific examples don't matter; I was just making the point that virtually everyone has at some point in their life made a poor decision which was at least as bad as taking $20 of your parents money out of an envelope they left for housekeeping. I think calling such an action "irredeemable" is harsh beyond all reason, that's all.
posted by Justinian at 6:09 PM on April 17, 2012


It was more that being the icing of a cake of a pattern of behavior (which included, just prior to that, trying to order room service on her parents' account). Any of the many bits might have been okay; in light of all of them, she looks like a pretty crappy person, though, to an extent that I had difficulty empathizing.

I did think the show had interesting things to say about publishing, though.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 6:11 PM on April 17, 2012


Maybe I'm just taking issue with the word "irredeemable", I guess. I agree she exhibited some pretty severe self-absorbed and crappy behavior. To me, though, "irredeemable" is a word reserved for like child rapist/murderers and dudes who commit genocide or whatever. Like "if hell existed, this person would burn in it forever".
posted by Justinian at 6:14 PM on April 17, 2012


I pretty much just mean "a big enough dbag that I'm not sure I care about her story." But again, when I ditched the notion that I was supposed to like her, much less identify, she was a bit more palatable.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 6:20 PM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Either you're a one in a million saint or you've done something in your life which is worse than what we saw happen. Are you irredeemable?

I have never once ever in my entire life even considered stealing a maid's tip money. I would not take a maid's tip money if I were literally starving to death; I would find a different way to eat.

This does not make me a saint, not one in a million or even one in a thousand. It makes me a normal, moral, functioning member of society.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 6:53 PM on April 17, 2012


Hindcandeza: I'm am assuming we are supposed to sympathize with the characters, but I'm not trying to prove it. I assume this to be true because this is how standard narratives work. I also assume this because of the critical comparison to Louie, in which Louie CK is clearly an 'Everyman' sort of character. I suppose it is possible we aren't supposed to identify with anyone in the show, but then why would we even be expected to watch it?

And with regards to the stolen money, it is an interesting moment. There for a second I thought it was a brilliant display of how Hannah perceived her parents value of her: she was worth as much as a stranger (or worse: an anonymous housekeeper.) If she'd just left it at that she'd still seem like a selfish and foolish child, but at least we'd see some moment where she came off as human. The writers made another choice and then coupled it with the image of a homeless black man (which struck me as more tone-deaf than intentional.) Poorly played.

And to the side argument that implies anyone would have taken the money: not true at all. She made a lot of bad decisions, but she didn't have to take the money. It was $20. It wasn't going to make any difference to her at the end of the day. She took it because she felt entitled to it, not because she needed it. Even if someone in this thread had done something equivalent, their motivations could have ranged quite a bit. Point being, if that's a moment we were supposed to identify with Hannah, I feel sorry about the writer's view of themselves and of humanity at large.

Lastly, and a very minor point, I liked the moment she lost her internship. When she pointed out that the asian girl had been hired and was rejoined with 'she knows photoshop' I couldn't help but laugh. What had Hannah been doing at her desk for a year? Had she really failed to learn any identifiably marketable skill? He offered her the twitter feed like that has something she could handle, like giving her a nice ball to play with. That was Hilarious.

Ok, really lastly: The thing that is so great about Louie is while Louie says and does awful things, but we know he's a good person. At the end of the day he does the right thing in his own twisted way. He's privileged, but he still knows the taste of defeat. He's given to his baser instincts, but he still wants to better than he is. Hannah lacks any of those qualities. There is never a moment where she thinks about anyone other than herself, much less aspires to be a better person. Perhaps the arc of the show will develop that side of the character through time, but we aren't given much hope in this first episode. I'm willing to let time to prove me wrong, but I doubt I'll sit down for episode 2.
posted by elwoodwiles at 7:11 PM on April 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Funny, I don't recall this much hand-wringing angst over Game of Thrones' disgraceful "raping someone until they fall in love with you" subplot.
posted by smithsmith at 7:16 PM on April 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


You obviously don't read Tiger Beatdown.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:17 PM on April 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


[Amazing but True fact: not every post about [TV SERIES] needs to turn into a GoT thread. Maybe we can give something else a little oxygen? ]
posted by taz at 10:26 PM on April 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


Of course there isn't a ton of hand-wringing about Game of Thrones because it's 110% about challenging the tropes that made fantasy literature (particularly the innumerable Tolkien pastiches) so stale for decades. To have characters that are shades of grey in a genre which has typically presented conflict in very basic black and white, good vs evil terms is quite refreshing even if the content can be completely over the top.

I'm not sure we are really supposed to sympathize or empathize with anyone on GoT (maybe Tyrion because he's a lovable rogue) but even the ostensibly good people like Jon Snow are much better rounded than the typical shining paladin of fantasy fiction. They just stand out in stark contrast to complete monsters.

The characters on Girls aren't monsters, they aren't even that loathsome. Given different circumstances I'm sure that I would probably been of a similar level of blind, selfish, self-absorbed in my early 20s. Hell I probably was similarly delusional even if I wasn't quite as entitled. Being able to see a piece of myself however small isn't really enough. I understand that not every character needs to be someone to aspire to or someone that I wouldn't mind being for a day or two but the main character had such a lack of redeeming qualities that I struggle to find any sort of motivation to feel interested hearing her story play out. I'd much rather the characters be loathsome but interesting (although I struggle to watch a show like Curb Your Enthusiasm or Always Sunny where the main characters are unrelentingly loathsome) than passive and boring.
posted by vuron at 11:56 PM on April 17, 2012


I enjoy that show, but does anybody beside me watch it and think 'Shlemiel Shlamozzel Hassenpfeffer Incorporated....'

Well, I don't, because it is possible for there to be more than one show about two women 'scraping by.'

I don't think it's wrong to consider a person's character when deciding whether to patronize their business. A terrible person may make great art, but that doesn't mean you necessarily want to reward them for it.

We're not exactly talking about Roman Polanski here. And, like, literally no one cares if any of you know Lena Dunham. It's so uninteresting, seriously. Most of us don't know you from Adam.

the fact we're supposed to in some sense sympathize with that feeling and find her 'struggle' appealing

I'm kind of wondering how many people who are pissed about this are actually poor/working class/broke, because I sure as hell am, and yet somehow it doesn't stop me from understanding and identifying with hundreds of protagonists, including Carrie of SitC and the lead from Girls. I also enjoyed Catcher in the Rye, as well as Salinger's other work (PS: It's not "about" adolescence because of where Caulfield lives or what he owns, it is because it's about innocence and disillusionment and the failure of adults to protect children, all of which I was highly aware of coming from a poor background). Amazingly, I understood Girls because I know people as privileged as the protagonist, and the humor worked on that level. I also, on a human level, understand and identify with aspects of her selfishness. Furthermore, I'm capable of being interested by a character who acts in ways more heinous than I believe I would (see again the Sopranos comparison-- I mean, we're supposed to prefer Tony Soprano because his flaws are depicted in a slicker, rosier, more romantic/tragic light?).

I mean, c'mon, I identify with basically zero of the conundrums in a typical episode of Seinfeld (especially those involving urban life, urban dating, and urban success), and yet it is hilarious. I also loved Woody Allen movies in high school, because amazingly, being poor and rural does not deplete your imagination to the point where you can't empathize with basic human struggles involving romance and inadequacy.

Is it lame that rich white people (mostly men) get most of the attention and sympathy in media? Yes, but acting outraged now that a show created by women has come around is really lame. Watching a show about rich brats and watching a show about middle class people with middle class problems are equal amounts of fantasy to me so I don't really care which is more deserving of air time on those terms. (Roseanne stands in a class of its own, of course.)

The get-offa-my-lawn types who simply loathe those privileged young women, the ones who act like their Eat-Pray-Love journey is just totes important, furrealz... and for some reason think this show is a straight-up glorification of those people and their lifestyle when it clearly is not.

Exactly. Also, gladly, I laughed out loud at your GoT comment.

I would not take a maid's tip money if I were literally starving to death

Well, then you actually are a saint, and are proving the opposite of what you seem to be trying to prove. Also, I think your priorities might be slightly out of whack, but maybe you've never been that close to starving to death?
posted by stoneandstar at 12:21 AM on April 18, 2012 [7 favorites]


The implicit message is that this is the life all girls should have, and if your circumstances prevent you from ever having this, you're not really a girl.

Also, I honestly appreciate you looking out for girls, but I took the title as far more ironic and didn't feel at all excluded as a "girl."

(Also, SatC, not SitC, eheh.)
posted by stoneandstar at 12:27 AM on April 18, 2012


The rush to judgment based on a pilot alone seems very unfair. Did you put down "Catcher in the Rye" after the first chapter because Holden Caulfield seemed like a wealthy, oblivious asshole? Are you really unable to empathize with fictional characters that are unlikeable (or just unlike you)?

I read an interesting study on empathy recently, and I wonder if some of these reactions are part of a similar out-group effect.
posted by ecmendenhall at 4:47 AM on April 18, 2012


I'm really confused about the idea that a)viewers must be able to identify with characters on TV; indeed, that this is "how standard narratives work" and b)therefore, the characters must not do anything morally questionable that would hamper this identification. What about most recent "important" TV dramas? Tony Soprano, Al Swearengen, Walter White, Omar Little - they're all murderers. Don Draper and Jimmy McNulty? Serial womanizers, liars, and cheaters. And yet, these are people's favorite characters on their favorite TV shows, not because people identify with them, but because they're interesting, well-developed, and well-written.

Or are these bad comparisons because the shows are dramas and not comedies? Ok, how about Larry David, all the characters on Seinfeld, all the characters on It's Always Sunny, and many of the characters on Arrested Development (Gob, Lindsey, Lucille, etc.)? These are all loathsome individuals who wouldn't think twice about stealing a housekeeper's tip - indeed, they've all done much worse things - but I haven't seen many people agonizing over not being able to identify with Kramer or Charlie or Gob.
posted by Awkward Philip at 5:51 AM on April 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'm really confused about the idea that a)viewers must be able to identify with characters on TV; indeed, that this is "how standard narratives work" and b)therefore, the characters must not do anything morally questionable that would hamper this identification. What about most recent "important" TV dramas? Tony Soprano, Al Swearengen, Walter White, Omar Little - they're all murderers. Don Draper and Jimmy McNulty? Serial womanizers, liars, and cheaters. And yet, these are people's favorite characters on their favorite TV shows, not because people identify with them, but because they're interesting, well-developed, and well-written.

I think this tension is higher in a large part because this narrative is being claimed as relatable and realistic across the blog'o'sphere. It's not that viewers must identify with characters. It's not, despite claims that the in-episode line was tongue-in-cheek, this character actually has been hailed as the mouthpiece for 20-something women. When you're told that that this character looks just like you and you don't find any of yourself in that character, it's jarring. It can also be bristling, if you don't particularly like or approve of a character's behavior.

These are all loathsome individuals who wouldn't think twice about stealing a housekeeper's tip - indeed, they've all done much worse things - but I haven't seen many people agonizing over not being able to identify with Kramer or Charlie or Gob.

There's a line, for every viewer (and reader). The comparisons to The Catcher in the Rye are apt. We might find it ridiculous that people dismiss Holden as a brat, but if you go on Goodreads, right this very second there are readers dismissing him as just that. I prefer to think a character just has to be interesting, but sometimes characters are so loathsome that I just really don't want to spend any time with them. The threshold for that is different for every media consumer.

Well, then you actually are a saint, and are proving the opposite of what you seem to be trying to prove. Also, I think your priorities might be slightly out of whack, but maybe you've never been that close to starving to death?

I think the whole "prove that this is a universal by telling people how they must be terrible people" is really lame. Can we stop that? The people in this thread know what they would do, and not do, and "this is outside my moral code" is a perfectly okay reaction.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 6:40 AM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's not, despite claims that the in-episode line was tongue-in-cheek, this character actually has been hailed as the mouthpiece for 20-something women.

"It's that," rather.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 6:41 AM on April 18, 2012


Dunham hasn't sorted out what is sharp (self?) parody from what is simply talking about herself. There's a pretty obvious difference there with Arrested Development or Curb Your Enthusiasm, which are natural reference points.

Sitcoms generally succeed on how savagely they mock their star; lame ones like "Everybody Loves Raymond" fail because they try to keep them lovable. Shows like Curb and RoseAnne and All in the Family push the star way out there. Dunham makes a vague wave at Larry David but she really seems to want to be Mary Tyler Moore.
posted by msalt at 7:15 AM on April 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


One nit that bugged me that this thread hasn't yet hit: In addition to the magic negro at the end, the only other minority to appear is a quiet dorky Asian girl who (those Asian nerds!) happens to know Photoshop and has a foreign-sounding name, and then gets one dumb throwaway line that doesn't make her look very good. I really had the feeling that Asian-girl was being made fun of for a - being asian, and as a consequence b - actually having, you know, a useful skill.

I actually don't really know how I feel about the show and I'll wait and see where it goes re: the band of priviliged females. It could be handled well, IMO. What left a weird taste in my mouth was rather the two cameos made by non-Whites.

Wow this is one of the better mefi-as-cultural-critic threads, I really have no idea which side has the stronger argument, but I think all the angles have been thoroughly covered.
posted by tempythethird at 9:46 AM on April 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


...lame ones like "Everybody Loves Raymond" fail because they try to keep them lovable.

What metric are you using to judge success/failure in that statement? Raymond aired for nine seasons and won seven Emmys.
posted by griphus at 9:56 AM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


The people in this thread know what they would do, and not do

Sorry, this is like, so untrue. It might be outside your moral code, but acting like it's incomprehensible is just a failure of empathy and rejection of complexity. I don't think what she did was right, obviously, but selfish, coddled people can feel desperate too. And the example was an insult to people like me who actually have gone hungry, to be honest.

Anyway, I just finished watching the pilot, and I really liked it. Maybe because I'm a twenty-something girl, but I don't see why there shouldn't be shows targeted at twenty-something girls on HBO. Despite having nowhere near the level of privilege of the lead character I identified with her perspectives on ambition and relationships, the feeling of having the carpet yanked out from under you, and I was also interested in her as an character independent from me. The racism is definitely a problem, and an important critique, but I feel like people rejecting the show because Dunham is a brat or because these actresses have influential fathers or because a critique of class privilege is suddenly too shrill is mildly questionable from a gender perspective.

And by the way, white men using the phrase "white girl problems" to dismiss shows about women is blatantly sexist, fyi. White boy problems apparently involve having to tolerate a show that isn't about spoiled white men for once.
posted by stoneandstar at 9:59 AM on April 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


Sorry, this is like, so untrue. It might be outside your moral code, but acting like it's incomprehensible is just a failure of empathy and rejection of complexity. I don't think what she did was right, obviously, but selfish, coddled people can feel desperate too. And the example was an insult to people like me who actually have gone hungry, to be honest.

How do you know the people who said it haven't gone hungry? Assuming that people who are speaking up here are doing so from a place of privilege seems wrong-headed to me.

or because a critique of class privilege is suddenly too shrill

I haven't seen anyone arguing this at all--that this was too strident a critique of class. If anything, people have been arguing otherwise. And I haven't seen anyone, male or remale, using "white girl problems" in this thread.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:07 AM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sitcoms generally succeed on how savagely they mock their star; lame ones like "Everybody Loves Raymond" fail because they try to keep them lovable.

Oh, please don't make me defend Everybody Loves Raymond. I'm not a fan of anyone on that show except Peter Boyle, but at least I've seen some episodes.

You're wrong. Ray isn't loveable. At all. In fact, much of the success of the premise (most of the good comedy I think comes from Ray and his mom, dad, and brother) is based on the fact that he is an self-interested asshole who nonetheless is his mom's favorite.

Ray is an everyman. He's every one of us who knows the right thing to do but is too lazy or greedy to do it. When caught, he is contrite. And he is forgiven, because of the inherent unfair premise of the show. That's comedy.

The show ran for 9 seasons, was nominated for the Best, er sorry, Outstanding Comedy Series Emmy for 7 of those and won the award twice. Actors on the show won 7 Emmys combined. It was consistently in the Top 10 TV show ratings for most of its run. It had CHRIS ELLIOTT.

So by "fail" you mean "fail critically by your (perhaps) limited evaluation of those 9 seasons."

Sitcoms generally succeed on how savagely they mock their star

Family Ties, Cosby Show, Happy Days, Mary Tyler Moore, Growing Pains, Facts of Life, the Brady Bunch, Night Court, Full House ... Perhaps I misunderstand. I'm not saying those are good shows, but they were successful. Or is this a post-Seinfeld landscape we're talking about here. ;) If so, check out CBS.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:15 AM on April 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Family Ties, Cosby Show, Happy Days, Mary Tyler Moore, Growing Pains, Facts of Life, the Brady Bunch, Night Court, Full House ... I'm not saying those are good shows, but they were successful.

Exactly. Dunham is clearly not aspiring to be the Brady Bunch. She is trying to deconstruct, blah blah blah and/or at least be hilarious with a hip sensibility. I really like the non-glamour of it, the dingy couches and bad sex &c. She's following in the footsteps of some great comedies and IMHO not executing as well as them, because her POV is not sharp. She just hasn't thought it through. Consider this quote from the fawning New York magzine feature:

She’s been listening to Lady Gaga, thinking about the idea of attention—what it means to want it, what it feels like to get it, and how fame has changed for her generation. I ask Lena why she’s naked so much in Girls, and she laughs. “I have no idea. I’m really trying to understand. Because at a certain point, it wasn’t like, I’m doing it out of necessity. I’m naked all the time.”
posted by msalt at 10:29 AM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Did you put down "Catcher in the Rye" after the first chapter because Holden Caulfield seemed like a wealthy, oblivious asshole? Are you really unable to empathize with fictional characters that are unlikeable (or just unlike you)?

No, we read the whole thing. But here's my point. We weren't expected to just empathize with Holden, but to identify with him. The interaction of the cultural context of the character and the social context of us as readers was just too jarring to bear fruit.

Catcher is a great book, don't get me wrong, and I am also not comparing Girls to Catcher in terms of their relative qualities. I'm talking about the critics who think Girls is worthy of our love, critics who miss the broader cultural realities of the television audience, just as my teacher missed the realities of his students' cultural experiences.
posted by elwoodwiles at 10:38 AM on April 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Somebody explicitly said "white girl problems"-- ctrl+f "whitegirlproblems," all one word.

It's true, they might have gone hungry themselves, but I've never heard anyone whose actually been in that situation be so adamant and hyperbolic about starving to death lest they deprive someone of their tip. I mean, by that measure, Jean Valjean is beyond our sympathy. This girl is not Valjean, but having your cash flow abruptly cut off is scary, especially when your illusions about education, &c. are being shattered, and you don't know what to do, how to eat, if you're going to be able to pay rent. Newsflash, desperate people do stupid things. And personal ethics become foggier the more terrified you are.

"Strident" and "shrill" don't mean the same thing. People don't seem to want to hear girls "whining," even if it's a critical, self-conscious look at what is making them whine. They're really not doing anything other than being average girls in their socio-economic situation, but apparently that's too annoying, even if they're self-critical about it? There is so much literature and media about affluent young men and their dawning self-awareness, bildungsromans abound. I like to see this journey from a female perspective on occasion, even with a flawed female protagonist. I think certain people are objecting to the "girly" package and the shrillness of the privilege rather than the privilege itself (since it is at times obviously self-critical, and privilege is everywhere on TV).

I am kind of confused by the idea that her POV isn't sharp enough in the pilot. I have rarely watched a pilot that I thought was truly sharp, or that I was satisfied with. As a pilot, it didn't seem deficient to me.

msalt, to me that quote is not particularly damning. That could easily be a lead-in to further thoughts on the subject-- she does say that she's trying to understand, rather than giving a pat, easy answer. She also does talk about her body in the pilot, and I think for women the idea of being naked in a non-sensualized way, with a non-standard body, is a pretty big, important thing. How many times do you see women being casually naked together when it isn't being sexualized or presented for the hetero male eye?
posted by stoneandstar at 10:50 AM on April 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's true, they might have gone hungry themselves, but I've never heard anyone whose actually been in that situation be so adamant and hyperbolic about starving to death lest they deprive someone of their tip.

I spent my childhood not starving only by virtue of food stamps and my school's free lunch program, and I wouldn't steal a maid's tip.

Is that poor credentials enough for you?

I thought this was the more revealing quote from the NY Mag article:
I tell her that I’m intrigued by the scene in Tiny Furniture in which Charlotte tells Aura that because their mothers are so successful, they must be assholes. That dialogue came straight from a conversation with another childhood friend, says Dunham. “I was fascinated by the idea that you really need to be an asshole to get things done, to not mind hurting people’s feelings.” Maybe everyone who is successful has had to make a “for them” decision, she suggests. “Of course, most people you meet who aren’t successful have probably done that too.”
That is, to me, the definition of privilege--the assumption that those who have not had your advantages would automatically resort to the same behavior that you have. It's a justification for shitting on others, really. "Of course, unsuccessful people probably do the same thing." Well, why not talk to some of them? Or cast them in your show?

There is so much literature and media about affluent young men and their dawning self-awareness, bildungsromans abound. I like to see this journey from a female perspective on occasion, even with a flawed female protagonist. I think certain people are objecting to the "girly" package and the shrillness of the privilege rather than the privilege itself (since it is at times obviously self-critical, and privilege is everywhere on TV).

The existence of privilege elsewhere isn't a great justification for the continued existence of a privileged perspective. I'll come right out and say that I think that JD Salinger's work, for all its strengths, is ripe for these kinds of accusations of privilege--and I definitely wouldn't argue with anyone who felt that Catcher missed them because it didn't actually speak to their experiences despite the cultural assumption that it should be universal. The complaints that the pilot script wasn't self-aware enough of either race nor class issues are valid and grounded in the script. The attempts to dismiss them as anti-feminist strike me as intellectually dishonest.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:12 AM on April 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


Larry David is loathsome? :(
posted by stratastar at 11:17 AM on April 18, 2012


So did I, and then I also spent some of it and my young adulthood starving. I'm not trying to have a throwdown poverty battle here, I'm just saying that not knowing how the fuck you're going to eat makes taking a $20 bill not seem so much like being swallowed into Hell. Again, if good ol' Jean Valjean is beyond your sympathies, I am impressed.

Successful and unsuccessful people do asshole things. Poor people are not, like, saints. And what she says isn't "maybe unsuccessful people do that too, I don't know because I don't know any!" She is saying to her audience/interviewer, "well, you know, everyone does asshole things." Which is an acceptable statement. She's not presuming anything, she just understands basic facts of human nature. Assuming the unprivileged have selfish motives all the time is classism-- pointing out that everyone is an asshole sometimes to get what they want isn't.

The existence of privilege elsewhere isn't a great justification for the continued existence of a privileged perspective.

This is obvious, but it seems to me people are being way harsher on Lena Dunham for being a comedian's daughter than, for instance, Duncan Jones for being David Bowie's son. It is very possible to smear or silence someone by appropriating legitimate complaints and using them to justify your prejudices. It's not intellectually dishonest to point this out when you see it happen. I definitely think the critique from a race perspective is warranted, but the class outrage seems faintly ridiculous, maybe because, I don't know, it doesn't exist for the vast majority of shows which are similarly egregious. For some reason, when I think of that particular critique, the first show that comes to mind is Sex and the City, and when I think of complaints about nepotism, the first director that comes to mind is Sofia Coppola. People are more inclined to think of women as spoiled or untalented and less deserving than men (who have similar advantages).
posted by stoneandstar at 11:33 AM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


That is, to me, the definition of privilege--the assumption that those who have not had your advantages would automatically resort to the same behavior that you have

That is not a very useful definition of privilege-- it usually relies on the idea that people without your advantages are capable of behaving as impeccably as you without any extra effort. You can call Dunham an asshole I guess, but I think glorifying the poor (would never steal to eat, never be an asshole to get their way) just reinforces the idea that poor people need to behave perfectly to deserve support or sympathy.
posted by stoneandstar at 11:36 AM on April 18, 2012


*Lena Dunham is not Jeff Dunham's daughter.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:38 AM on April 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


Ahhhh omg, I don't know who Jeff Dunham is but I was thinking of Louis C.K. when I wrote that. Sorry, I had a brain tumor for breakfast.
posted by stoneandstar at 11:45 AM on April 18, 2012


Duncan Jones' name is not associated with his father, nor is his father involved in his work. Dunham uses her famous father's name and her famous mother acted in Tiny Furniture. Allison Williams' father, Brian Williams, has apparently mentioned his daughter to Apatow w/r/t casting her in a project. It's not a fault of these Girls that they happen to come from famous parents, but it's being used in their favor, which I would say makes it fair game for mention.
posted by troika at 11:49 AM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Successful and unsuccessful people do asshole things. Poor people are not, like, saints. And what she says isn't "maybe unsuccessful people do that too, I don't know because I don't know any!" She is saying to her audience/interviewer, "well, you know, everyone does asshole things." Which is an acceptable statement. She's not presuming anything, she just understands basic facts of human nature. Assuming the unprivileged have selfish motives all the time is classism-- pointing out that everyone is an asshole sometimes to get what they want isn't.

I honestly don't see anything in her words that are more supportive of your reading than mine.

when I think of complaints about nepotism, the first director that comes to mind is Sofia Coppola. People are more inclined to think of women as spoiled or untalented and less deserving than men (who have similar advantages).

Someone mentioned Bored to Death upthread--honestly, I have the same reaction to Jason Schwartzman. And I mean, Duncan Jones writes sci-fi films, not films starring David Bowie as his dad filmed in his London flat. But I think Lena Dunham's work in some ways invites this scrutiny because it's so autobiographical and in the autobiography reveals some really ugly things about the privileged class themselves--the selfishness, the blinding whiteness, the willingness to act selfishly to get ahead. I think StopMakingSense was really on to something upthread:

She wrote what she knew and what she knows makes some people pretty mad. That's the whole thing.

Because, yeah, that resonates. It's class bitterness for me, and it's class bitterness because Hannah is not and will never be Jean Valjean, because my mother worked menial jobs to support me and the idea of some rich kid stealing twenty bucks out of the pocket of someone like her makes me want to punch that kid in the face, moreover the repeated insinuation in this thread that, "Hey! Everyone is like that!" just puts me back in grad school, when I lived with someone just like this who, when I told her that I got teased as a kid for being poor, told me she wished she'd been bullied because she thought it would have made her more interesting (but of course, she was always the bully IRL hee hee). It's trying to justify the lowest common denominator of behavior, denying the humanity of the working class and poor. I'm not saying that all poor people are saints (where did I say that I was?!). I'm saying that when people tell you, "I wouldn't act this way and watching a character do this grossed me out," it's probably better to believe them rather than scrutinize their finances and their behavior. Because that's pretty gross, too.

It's cool you liked it and it resonated. There were things I liked about it too, and it's obviously complex enough that it invites discussion so I'll keep watching it for the time being. But based on the pilot, at least, this seems like a case for, How to be a fan of problematic things. Cause there are definitely some problematic things here.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:51 AM on April 18, 2012 [9 favorites]


Duncan Jones' name is not associated with his father, nor is his father involved in his work.

I really, really doubt that the people Ducan Jones deals with as a filmmaker don't know he's David Bowie's kid.
posted by griphus at 11:55 AM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


her famous father

I guess my art history education is deficient because I had never heard of him before this thread. I googled his art and it's pretty good. As far as I could find, he doesn't have a wikipedia entry, although his wife (Lena's mother) does.
posted by cell divide at 12:02 PM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I guess my art history education is deficient because I had never heard of him before this thread. I googled his art and it's pretty good. As far as I could find, he doesn't have a wikipedia entry, although his wife (Lena's mother) does.

Laurie Simmons is very famous in the art world. I was well aware of her work before I even knew Lena at Oberlin.

In fact Lena made another show (a web series) a couple of years ago called Delusional Downtown Divas with almost exactly same premise as this one and also costarring kids of famous artists and a bunch of artist celebrity guests but it was much less well executed since she didn't have a staff of writers or an hbo level budget. Despite the show's poor quality, it opened a major event at the Guggenheim and got a fair amount of press in the NYTimes, New York Magazine. I'm sure all the connections among its stars were directly responsible for this, since there are much better web series that deserve more attention. The show is still online if you want to check it out.
posted by timsneezed at 12:20 PM on April 18, 2012


If Duncan Jones makes an autobiographical ("honest", "brave") movie about growing up the son of a Glam Rock Megastar, shoots the whole thing in his father's apartment starring him and his actual father and then goes on to make a television series also loosely based on his life and friends co-starring (by chance, I suppose) Sean Lennon, Zoe Kravitz and Peaches Geldof and then gets tossed questions from interviewers about if it's "hard to deal with all the jealousy" because the whole sordid business puts some people off then I'd get real internet tough have a few shitty words about him, too. As it is, he's actually a great example because despite whatever advantages he's had in life, his art is not dedicated to defending the inherent value of that. Otherwise, yeah, it's just generally unfair that rich kids have it easier.

The artist and the art here are pretty deeply intertwined and it's generous of people to completely decontextualize this show from its creator, origins and the twenty-billion think pieces that have glommed onto it, but when you make no illusions about your navel-gazing (for better or worse) or the paper-thin veneer you have put between actual person you and art object you, it's disingenuous to be shocked when people have something to say about both and how they inform each other.
posted by StopMakingSense at 12:49 PM on April 18, 2012 [7 favorites]


I'm not trying to have a throwdown poverty battle here, I'm just saying that not knowing how the fuck you're going to eat makes taking a $20 bill not seem so much like being swallowed into Hell.

I think the shittiness is in the fact that Hannah is in no danger of starving. That moment is the culmination of her passivity and inability to organize her own life. She can't make money, or find a job, or get a boyfriend; she just sort of drifts to where things are happening and stands near them in the hopes that they will rub off on her. She can't think more than a day ahead. It's one thing when that means hanging all over a romantic partner who doesn't care much for you (who hasn't done that?); it's another when it means stealing from someone who works for a living.

I am way more interested in a show with a passive, self-absorbed girl-woman who is her own worst enemy who occasionally rises above her own flaws and has a moment of grace than a show whose punchline is the fact that she can't once even in the most black-and-white undergrad psych experiment-esque situation find her way towards a decent thing to do.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 1:09 PM on April 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


But nothing in the narrative suggested that she actually "struggled with her conscience."

And you've seen the first of ten episodes. You say she has no conscience and is irredeemable. I'm betting that's what the rest of the series is about. We'll see.


"this is outside my moral code" is a perfectly okay reaction.

Sure it is. Is stealing money from the housekeeper outside my moral code? Yes. Do I hope I wouldn't do it if I was in that situation? Of course.

Do I think that anybody who does so is "irredeemable"? No.

Frankly, "that's not a perspective I'd like to project on the world at large". I'd prefer to think that people make mistakes, even horrible mistakes, but can learn and grow. Your attitude, that "most people are above that" but the ones who don't are vile scum, is miserable.
posted by robcorr at 12:28 AM on April 19, 2012


Just to expand on that first point, that this was setting up a series:

She took some money that wasn't hers. Up until this point in her life, that is all she has ever done. She knows she needs money, but she doesn't appreciate what most people have to do to get it. So she takes it without a second thought.

But we know that she is going to learn very soon how hard it is to earn money. There's not always an envelope sitting on the dresser. So she will learn how to earn money, or she will suffer the consequences.

If a fairy godmother drops a bundle of cash on her in episode 2, I will change my mind. But there was nothing in episode 1 that suggests that will happen. The whole fucking thing is mocking her privilege.

I don't understand how you can't see that, but then I'm not a Poor Urchin With A Heart Of Gold™.
posted by robcorr at 12:38 AM on April 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


That would be a great premise but I guarantee that is not where this series is going.
posted by unSane at 4:18 AM on April 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Girls casting notices:

"MUST DO A JAMAICAN ACCENT"
posted by mrgrimm at 12:04 PM on April 19, 2012


"What really bothered me most about Precious was that there was no representation of ME."

'Girls' Writer Is Learning There's No Such Thing as Ironic Racism
posted by mrgrimm at 12:08 PM on April 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Curb Your Enthusiasm is about an entirely miserable selfish person and manages to be hilarious anyway.
posted by schroedinger at 12:29 PM on April 19, 2012


"What really bothered me most about Precious was that there was no representation of ME."

Oh Dear God in heaven.

I am so sick of the "The real racism is your accusing me of racism!" and "The real outrage is your being outraged about this outrageous thing!" responses that come out during controversies like this.

For whatever reason, 2012 is showing me a lot of evidence that we're not making much progress at all on a variety of racial, sexual, and gender issues. We have got to do better.
posted by lord_wolf at 12:51 PM on April 19, 2012


I like to think that Mad Men and Girls exist in the same universe and that Zosia Mamet's character in Girls is the granddaughter of her character in Mad Men.
posted by mullacc at 5:09 AM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


And on top of that, this week's Mad Men referenced a plot point from season one of Boardwalk Empire.
posted by shakespeherian at 6:25 AM on April 24, 2012


Also, I'm curious if anyone who disliked the first episode watched the second episode, because I think it did a pretty commendable job of addressing several of the concerns raised above, especially as pertains to the show's POV vs. the characters' POV.
posted by shakespeherian at 6:53 AM on April 24, 2012


I thought it was an improvement in terms of making Hannah sympathetic (the fact that she's only had two sexual partners, etc.), but I worry where they're going with the STD plotline, the acing felt a little more sitcommy, and Zosia Mamet's acting continues to grate. Mixed bag all around.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:56 AM on April 24, 2012


Mostly I meant how the show seems to be positioned as critical towards its characters' choices.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:18 AM on April 24, 2012


Hmm, I'm not sure. I'm still not certain what note they're trying to hit there, much less whether they're hitting it.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:58 AM on April 24, 2012


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