It’s kind of weird, has awful sex scenes every week and atleast a million and one protest essays were written about it before you even saw one non-white/ethnic character who wasn’t a bum. I’m talking about “Girls,” the newest original series on HBO, and I have watched it faithfully since Episode 1. And what?
“Girls,” only four episodes in, has taken a beating from critics over its lack of diversity in characters. A little over a week ago, I toiled over writing, like so many other writers, about the show’s character dynamics. I’d planned to address how people, mainly African-Americans, need to know when and when not to jump on the inclusivity bandwagon and accept that every show will NOT have black characters, nor should they. I didn’t mind the creator, Lena Dunham’s, response, which to many seemed to disregard critics’ feelings. Hardly anyone complained about the limited characters in the Holy Grail of women’s series, Sex and the City (just having Blair Underwood shirtless in a few episodes was enough for us, I guess). I decided not to write from that angle simply because everyone’s already said it for me. No need to be redundant.
I’d rather talk about why I watch “Girls,” instead of why you shouldn’t. It chronicles four white chicks in their early 20s, all strikingly different, living, making mistakes, laughing, crying, being stupid and being brave in a big city. That’s what you’re supposed to do in your 20s. Call me crazy, but I don’t see a problem here.
“You couldn’t pay me to be 24 again.”
The source of my entertainment is Hannah (also played by Dunham), the main character and aspiring writer (go figure). From the first episode, it seemed as if her life was in complete shambles. On my worse day, I know my life won’t rival hers. So far she’s received nude pics via text from her “fake boyfriend,” Adam that were meant for someone else and her journal read aloud to an alternative band’s instrumental. Her world is slipping right out from underneath her, but she’s still hanging in there. She is the embodiment of a young woman trying to manuveur out of her Quarterlife Crisis, but having dumb fun in the interim.
I often tell my friends that I don’t feel like we’re in our (early) 30s. Sometimes, I think we’re all just grown kids who just happen to have jobs and mortgages to pay. Unfortunately, a few of the shenanigans that these girls encounter are the same ones we’ve dealt with. From job loss to being with someone you know you don’t really love or complete cluelessness about life in general, we’ve all been there. Watching Hannah have gawky sex with Adam is vomit-worthy, but seeing her slowly open her eyes to what a jerk he is and take the reigns of her life makes up for that. If anything, “Girls” reminds me of how far my girls and I have come.
I don’t tune into “Girls” to push back the African-American agenda for onscreen equality and inclusiveness. I fully support minorities on the small and silver screen. I live for the day when shows like “A Different World” and “Girlfriends” will dominate major networks again. Quite honestly, I watch the series because it’s funny. It’s really funny in a “laugh at my pain” sort of way ( if having two Boriquas draw on Hannah’s eyebrows in the bathroom at work isn’t hysterical, I don’t know what is). It’s entertaining, smart and real. On any given episode, the storyline may not address my reality as it is today, but it addresses someone else’s. Isn’t that the point of a successful body of work?
So what if I’m not white, I never attended an artsy-fartsy liberal college or never had my parents support me financially post-degree? That doesn’t make their stories any less intriguing or thought-provoking. They’re young women living in a time when sending pictures of your body parts to people you’ve only known 48 hours is the norm. They’re portraying an age range that is the primetime for finding yourself or leaving your old self behind.
It’s not easy. It’s messy, but it’s also fun. I’ll continue to enjoy the ride and see where these girls go and how they grow.