Friday, April 27, 2012

REVIEW: GIRLS

HBO - Sunday 10:30/9:30c

Lena Dunham serves as writer, director, star and showrunner of HBO's new comedy drama about four single women in New York City.  She has a handle on the actual dialogue and interactions of twenty-something woman, and she is able to articulate the problems facing the typical woman in the big city.  The problem for the viewer is that these aren't always particularly moral problems, which although realistic, can be uncomfortable to view at times.

1.  Does it entertain me?
Early in the first episode, one of the girls, Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet) refers to a Sex and the City poster in her room and asks who she is most like.  This is a good move on Dunham the writer's part, because the comparisons the Michael Patrick King's comedy about 4 women in New York were inevitable.

The difference is that Carrie Bradshaw and Co. always looked like they were having fun, and the problems they faced were blown up societal problems.  Each of the four women represented a woman at a different point in her life, and each woman acted according to certain societal norms.

Girls on the other hand, doesn't relegate each girl to a stereotype.  They exist in a city and each have their own problems.  But they exist in a jaded world, mostly due to Dunham's creative choices, and the whole world seems glib and not-funny.

Dunham's Hannah, at dinner with her parents, describes herself as the "voice of my generation."  It's not clear if she's speaking of her own actual self here, ala M. Night Shyamalan in Lady in the Water, but the comparisons are there.  She is not trying to sound arrogant, she is just trying to get across to the viewing public that this is a show that is going to be a commentary on society more than a buddy comedy.

The show is altogether not not-entertaining, but it's dark Appatow view of the world doesn't exactly make it the kind of show I am dying to see.

2.  Is it realistic?
TV has a habit of casting actors and actresses who are beautiful and who stand out.  Sex sells, and television executives understand this.

This is one trap that Girls does not fall into, as the characters are not super-attractive, but they all possess real world looks (the only other show that I can think of that pulled this off was The Wire).

Further, the dialogue is realistic, and Dunham calls out so many social occurrences that at times you chuckle thinking about it or hearing about it.

3.  Are immoral actions defended?
Opium tea (apparently there is such a thing, and apparently it is legal), sex, limited swearing.  Oh, and talk about all this stuff.  Yes, it's safe to say that 2012 New York City is an immoral place.

4.  Are traditional family values upheld?
Hannah's parents decide to cut her off cold turkey from their funding.  They no longer will support her as she interns at a magazine, and so now she must fend for herself in the big city.  Fine, I can see that.

All the other immoral activities mentioned above still continue, though, and these serve to slowly uproot and undermine the family.
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If Sex and the City proved that 4 women who are friends will backstab each other and then become friends again, Girls is trying to show that this backstabbing might occur in a more subtle level.  It is dark, crass and occasionally funny.  But not sure if it's funny enough to come back to on a weekly basis.

Grade: B-

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