Tuesday, April 17, 2012

I know you want to read another post about #Girls.

Since everyone else in the world is talking about Girls, I figured I might as well throw in my two cents. On the one hand, I thought it was an absolutely pitch-perfect representation of (a subset of) people from roughly my generation and socioeconomic background. Virtually every line seemed right on, seemed to be something I have actually heard someone say.* So that made me say "This is amazing and I must watch it." On the other hand, the people it so realistically portrays are ones who often drive me completely nuts in real life, so whether I'll be able to keep watching it without being wholly annoyed by the characters is an open question. But I'm willing to give it a chance.

A lot of the discussion about this seems to be happening in extremes - "They're amazing!" "They're awful!" "They're just like me!" "Not everyone is like this!" - and I think that sort of willfully misses the point. Hannah isn't a hero, but I don't think the show tries to claim she is. And I don't think she's a villain either. As someone who insisted on moving out and supporting herself as quickly as possible when many of her peers were not,** I definitely sympathize with the "JUST GET A JOB" contingent, but it's also true that we grew up being told that we were different, that we were special, that we could do anything we wanted and should follow our dreams regardless of dumb stuff like money. Some of us, you know, got over that, and some kept buying into it. (My favorite quote from Josh Charles's character on The Good Wife comes to mind: "What happened to work? Not everybody can pursue their dreams. Someone has to work.") For what it's worth, I thought Hannah continuing to take her parents' money while she had an unpaid internship was much less morally objectionable than her parents cutting her off with no notice. Two months or something, fine, but no warning? She could lose her apartment! It could seriously mess up her credit rating! It just didn't seem like a constructive step toward actually getting her to the point of successfully supporting herself in the long run.

It also seems that the money-related things are taking up most of the air in the discussion, but while I was yelling "Just go get a job in a store! That's what I did!" at the screen for a lot of that, so much of the other stuff, about friendships and relationships and jobs, seemed very true and possibly more universal - by which I mean universal to this specific demographic, not universal to everyone. The self-delusional faux-intellectual nonsense, the friends we don't actually like, the sketchily-defined romantic and sexual relationships . . . that was all done really well. "Joy Lin knows Photoshop" is one of the most perfect lines I've heard in a while. So I'm hoping that in future episodes the show focuses less on the one specific issue of parental support and continues to explore all these other things as well.

I don't have the time or energy to get into the whole question of privilege right now, except to say: Yes, the main characters are from privileged backgrounds. But most shows on TV are about characters who are at least upper middle class, or even unquestionably rich (Bones, Castle, and Gossip Girl come to mind there), and while I'm not saying this shouldn't be discussed in general, I'm not sure why people are making an issue of it in Girls specifically. Also: I've always assumed that TV that is generally aspirational draws bigger audiences, or in other words, people like to watch people in nice clothes and pretty houses. Again, not saying this is good, but if I were to complain about this, Girls is not where I would start.

* Well, okay, I'm not getting into questions of apartment size/what New York is really like/etc. Just talking about the general emotional/life stuff.
** And fine: My phone is still on my parents' family plan. So the line about that cracked me up.

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