A trillion gallons of electronic ink — and even more vitriol — has been spilled over HBO’s “Girls” in the past couple of years. I’ve been watching since the beginning, generally enjoying the show, and not partaking in either bashing or defending Lena Dunham for what she created.
After watching the recent episode that revolves around Hannah’s birthday party, I realized why it never occurred to me to critique or defend the show. At one point Shoshanna says to her friends, “It’s really amazing that all three of you have accomplished so little in the four years since college.” The line stood out to me because it highlighted how little the women on “Girls” resemble any of the women I knew when I was in my mid-20s or the women I know who are in their mid-20s today.
The women I know graduated from college and went on to get graduate degrees; took jobs at NGOs, law firms, consulting firms, and universities; got married and had children; and went abroad with the Peace Corps and taught with Teach for America, amongst many other things. They were (and are) busy and impressive to all outward appearance, and I’m sure they (and their concerns) were (and are) also silly, petty, and banal sometimes … because, really, who isn’t?
So I watch “Girls” and it seems like fiction to me. It’s entertainment and, insofar as I’m entertained by it, I don’t see anything to either revile or defend. I never felt the need to get involved in the arguments about the real-world consequences or implications of the show because it seemed entirely unreal to me. Shoshanna’s assessment of these women who are her friends really brought home the unreality of their lives, at least from my own admittedly pretty narrow perspective.