Girls, TV’s new take on the modern woman

HBO-girls-eve

It’s that time of year again… watching the amazing weather while you’re stuck inside working on endless assignments and the likes. So, logically, it’s also the perfect time of year to begin watching a new series.

It seems to be a paradoxical yet necessary process of the busiest periods of my life, but I always need those 20 minute breaks every now and then on my intense study days, and what better way to spend these breaks than to watch an episode from a series… This year, I decided to go with HBO’s Girls (among others…)

What really intrigued me about this series was a recent article I had read comparing this new show to one of my favourite series Sex and the City. I started watching Girls, which had been dubbed as the 2012 equivalent to the latter, expecting to be swept away into the enviable world of four somewhat stereotypical yet lovable women in Manhattan. However, having now watched the full 2 seasons aired so far I can safely say the only similarity between the two series is the number of protagonists… The story focuses around four very different characters and their struggles to make a living in New York, while trying to juggle dreams for their future and relationships at the same time. So far, it sounds pretty similar, but what distinguishes this series from Sex and the City in my opinion, is not only the glamour and glitz, but most importantly it is the age of the girls in question. Whereas Sex and the City presents viewers with 30 something women who have figured out at least the career part of their lives, focusing instead on their love-lives, Girls presents all the sticky, uncomfortable bits this series seems to have skipped. It shows the trials and tribulations of 20-something year old women, fresh out of college, and their parents’ allowances, trying to find a decent job which will not only help them pay the bills, but also fulfil their respective big dreams.

What makes this series even more different is that the characters in the series go through some trying financial crises which reflect the current economic crunch, rather than an extravagant lifestyle of fashion and exclusive parties. It is a world where true to form, jobs don’t come (or stay) easy and sexual politics still seem to play an important role. Hannah (Lena Dunham), for instance, who is an intern at a magazine, unpaid, and undervalued, ends up losing her job when she asks for a paid job at the magazine she is working for. Even Marney (Allison Williams), the character who has most drive and determination in the series, ends up losing her job at the art gallery and having to work as a hostess. Shoshana (Zosia Marnet), on the other hand is still a college student, which means that she gets to enjoy a somewhat privileged life, having an apartment paid by her parents and not yet having to face all the employment issues the other characters do. She represents the naïve young woman still fantasizing about her future and trying to figure out which of the Sex and the City girls she is most like and worshipping their glamorous lifestyle. And finally, there’s Jessa (Jemima Kirke), the ‘wild child’ of the group, who like her obvious counterpart in Sex and the City, Samantha, shows that in spite of all her bravado about relationships she can be as vulnerable and naïve as all the other characters in matters of love.

Gone are the glamorous and romanticised love scenes and declarations of love in this series. All focus goes on the awkwardness and often demeaning sexual encounters the women experience, with not so much as mood music or soft lighting to make the scenes a little more comfortable to watch. All emphasis is on making scenes as realistic as possible, and this is reflected even in the cast of the show. The actors don’t fit into the usual Hollywood stereotypes of beauty which are mirrored in television series and movies. Let’s also not forget the emphasis on STD’s and possible pregnancy in this series, which strikes the viewer as one of the first issued to be discussed in the early episodes.

Dunham, who is also the writer of the series, has been dubbed ‘the voice of her generation’, which I must admit makes me feel somehow uncomfortable, mainly because I’d rather believe that my not so distant future could resemble the world of Carrie Bradshaw, rather than the difficult world of Hannah Horvath. However, if you decide to start watching this series, make sure to do so treating the show in its own right. It isn’t  and does not claim to be, an imitation or a parody of any previous series. Although it presents a bleaker image of life in the Big Apple, than I would like to believe, it proved to be extremely entertaining. So if you’re not offended by nudity and stark reality portrayed on-screen, this series is definitely worth the watch! I for one cannot wait for the third season after last Sunday’s touching season finale… Watch this space!