HBO’s ‘Girls’ Falls Flat As the Voice of the Millennial Generation
It has been one month and I’m already very concerned.
I’m concerned that the show being praised as "quirky," "hilarious," and "radical" will soon be referred to as "the voice of a generation." From what I can tell, no one has said this yet. But let’s be honest, HBO’s new show Girls is no revolution, and certainly not the voice of my generation. Objectively, it’s no different than Sex and the City (racially, economically, social-echelony), a narrative that should have died out with our collapsing infrastructure.
Logistically speaking, I don’t fall directly into the target demographic that HBO’s new show Girls is aiming for … but that doesn’t mean I can’t identify. Aside from the glaring difference between myself and the cast, we’re really not that different. I’m a 24 year-old graduate from a liberal arts college living in Brooklyn. I use words like "totes" and "obvi" and have been unhappily over-employed and under-paid for nearly two years. I also spend (debatably) unhealthy amounts of time on the internet and some may describe me as having serious fits of awkwardness.
So naturally, when I read pre-premier reviews, I couldn’t help but wait with baited breath. The Los Angeles Times referred to Dunham as, “the uncomfortably true voice of millennial women.” Similarly, the New Yorker was a bit more humble in its fawning, calling Dunham a "radical careerist," and went on to read:
… this, above all, is the provocative element of “Girls”: the show really is about making it; its underlying subject is its very existence, the notion that a young woman who has recently graduated from a liberal-arts college and spends time making self-revealing and self-deprecating videos that she posts on YouTube can, within a few years, make a noteworthy feature film and have an HBO series with a startling amount of creative control — and that it’s OK to want this, and even better to acknowledge that it’s OK.
How inspiring that a 20-something, straight, white girl was able to find success in New York City.
Yes, I’m a millennial and yes, life in New York is a constant struggle, but HBO misses the target when it comes to telling the story of millennials (which ironically, was captured nearly perfectly in the network’s cancelled How to Make it in America).
I’m not denying that there’s a crowd of post NYU graduates that still get their monthly stipend from mom and dad, but we as an audience deserve better than this. Wouldn’t it be great if Dunham got an apartment in Brownsville, or Flushing, or Bedstuy … you know, somewhere that doesn’t cost $1100+/month just because our heroine wants convenient access to cafes and nightlife? Living in NYC is a challenge and the old saying, "if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere," doesn’t work when it’s being paid for.
I appreciate what HBO is trying to do with Girls. Our culture is saturated with movies and shows that focus too heavily on quirky male leads struggling against "The Man." But it’s impossible to get out of our Apatow- saturated culture, when Apatow is the only one producing the alternatives (Girls, Bridesmaids). In the end, audiences are left scratching their head. HBO cancelled Bored to Death and How to Make it in America for this?