TV ReviewsLove in the Ruins
By Nancy DeWolf Smith, Wall Street Journal
- Apr. 20, 2012* * * *
The girls of HBO's dark comedy "Girls"
technically women in their early-to-mid 20sdon't know a thing about real sacrifice or suffering. At first that makes them unsympathetic. Although there is a great deal of explicit sex in "Girls," it is not meant to beand for the most part is notin any way erotic. Mix that with a bunch of 21st-century spoiled slacker girls and you have the makings of something truly repulsive. But don't turn away yet. Something astonishing is happening here too.
"Girls" kicked off last week with the travails of Hannah Horvath (series creator and writer Lena Dunham), a perpetual unpaid intern and unfinished-memoir writer who is furious when her parents announce that after supporting her for the two years since college graduation, they are pulling the plug. O woe, how dare they!
The rest of the quartet includes Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet) and her free-spirited English cousin Jessa (Jemima Kirke), a substitute baby sitter who comes on to already-taken men. Another friend has a real job: Marnie (Allison Williams) works in an art gallery. But she is existentially cursed with a boyfriend who loves her too much, or as Marnie laments: "He's so busy, like, respecting me...that he looks right past me and everything that I need." In a future episode Marnie will find excitement in the flip side of that scenario, which is another reason to hang on until "Girls" gets some traction in your gut, if not your heart.
Hannah is glib and self-deprecating in the way that a clever but plain and plump woman can become, and as self-obsessed as only the aimless can afford to be. The job market for the educated unskilled is rough, though Hannah is so eager to be witty that she blows a promising interview. She passes time at the apartment of Adam (Adam Driver), a male roughly her age who takes $800 a month from his grandmother so he can enjoy the unencumbered lifestyle of a 14-year-old. And in that apartment, in scenes of systematic debasement, Hannah offers her body to Adam without joy or apparent desire.
Stupid girl. Stupid, all of them. Lying down with men that never call, let alone ask for a date, but only text or, lowest of the low, Facebook you. Or just drifting in a tiny universe world where if anything good happens, it will be an accident, like, totally random.
They've come a long way, babyand then it hits you: Here it is, after some 50 years of women's liberation, and what characterizes the lives and expectations of today's young women? Passively offering themselves to indifferent men; getting pregnant by mistake; well schooled but careerless. Free to roam the globe taking foreign lovers and shucking oysters, but no less hobbled in other ways than their female forbears were. After decades of you-go girl, here they are, reduced to making collages on an "affirmation board," so low is their self-esteem.
Humor can take the edge off. Yet if anything about "Girls" is true, and on some level much of it is, we have a cultural train wreck showcased every week on TV. No wonder it often hurts to watch. No wonder it is so difficult to look away.'GIRLS'
Sundays at 10:30 p.m. on HBOhttp://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000...estyleArtEnt_6