I’m not someone who watches television very much. In fact, when I say “television,” what I mean is “I don’t often watch my computer,” because I don’t even own a television. I’m not morally opposed or anything, just too indifferent to spend my time and money on buying a television and cable service and doing all the upkeep and whatnot that it requires. Plus, there really isn’t a good place for one in our house, unless we got a giant flatscreen and put it over the fireplace or something, but that seems almost sacreligious. Like, the fireplace is such a homey, cozy spot, modernizing it with a tv would sort of defile it. Anyhow, I think this “not watching much tv” thing came from my first year of college, when I was rowing. Since socializing outside the team was near impossible (we had practice at 4.45 am every day, and regattas on the weekend, leaving only mealtimes and class to pack in all your socialization and friend-making), so many of my Friday and Saturday pre-practice or pre-regatta evenings were spent watching Greek or Gossip Girl, or some other lame show that made me wish that I was also out there living my life, making friends and poor decisions, rather than just sitting there and watching other people do so. After a year of this, I felt sad and pathetic. Worse still, I was BORED. I think boredom, when you are blessed with a great brain and surrounded by fascinating and brilliant peers on a gorgeous campus is one of the worst crimes imaginable. Anyhow. First and sophomore years marked my departure from television. I vowed to start living and experiencing, rather than simply watching. Predictably, this meant that I started partying a lot. I’m still pro-partying, so long as it’s not to excess. I think it really is one of the best ways to experience friends and acquaintances without all the weird falsenesses and pretensions of “coffee dates” or whatever. When you think about it, partying is one of the few times when most everyone present is truly present – focused on the people around them rather than what’s for dinner tonight, or how much they dislike their job, or whatever it is people spend their time thinking about. But, if you are busy living your life 24/7, I have found, you end up exhausted, and after three months of no television (you can’t stream in Europe and the Middle East) I have rediscovered my love of hulu and projectfreetv.
I’m a fan of HBO, as a network. I’ve never actually had it, but I like a lot of what HBO has done – made sex acceptable dinnertime conversation with Sex and the City, helped kids with autism sing, dance, and raise money with Autism, the Musical, and even gave everyone a little vampire softcore with True Blood, to name a few. Lena Dunham’s new series, Girls, I think, is pure genius. No, it’s not all that original, and in fact the comparisons with Sex and the City run deep. It focuses on one young woman, who is a (n aspiring) writer living in New York City with her three best friends. The four personalities even have similarities- there is a hardworking and earnest prude, the gorgeous and over-sexed blonde, the tries-too-hard-to-be-liked-and-follow-rules student, and the hardly-has-her-act-together writer and main protagonist. While they have their various loves and lovers, the main theme of their friendship is central.
As you expect on HBO, the sex scenes are multiple and graphic, but unlike the porny perfection of SATC or True Blood, these actresses are refreshingly real, and portray all too well the insecurities and inexperience of their youth. Hannah, our protagonist, is downright curvy, and we get to see her in every state of undress. Although the friendships are a bit underdeveloped as yet, what really rings true about these young women are their relationships to themselves, to men, and to the new world of the professional workplace. We see Hannah get herself into and out of a number of downright humiliating positions, but emerge with the resilience of someone who certainly has double my self-esteem. Interestingly, Adam, Hannah’s love interest, is the most sexualized character – in the first five episodes he hasn’t appeared wearing a shirt, and never leaves his own apartment. While I’m not one for analysis, I would be curious to hear what an English or Film major would say about his sexualization and near-imprisonment, as we almost always see him through the door or window. The relationship between Hannah and Adam probably resonates with most women between the ages of 18-30, and paints a pretty clear picture of the sad reality of dating a hipster manchild.
At one point during the pilot, Hannah tells her parents, “I think I’m the voice of my generation… or at least a voice, of a generation,” and it couldn’t be more true. Girls is certainly just as white as SATC, and it portrays a different kind of upper-middle-class existence. Although Hannah and co. don’t wear couture, they are graduates of a small, liberal arts college who receive support from their parents. While this is clearly not abnormal in many cultures, there are very few families who can financially support their children through and after college, in a city like New York. I wouldn’t claim that Hannah Horvath is the voice of my generation, but I think that Lena Dunham has done an incredible job creating a show that so aptly captures the reality of the slightly aimless recent graduate.