Let's not and say we did, okay?
It’s hard to think of a show more polarizing than Girls. If you’re a millennial, you came into your adulthood alongside its characters from 2012 to 2017. And depending on your constitution and identifiers, you tuned in either to see your messy early twenties reflected back to you in high definition, or you hate watched a bunch of bratty, young, white women mistreat themselves and each other. But no matter how you related to the show, it was undeniably captivating. It grabbed popular culture by the horns and was the sort of show that launched a thousand think pieces and memes. Still, roughly five years since the series finale, it’s safe to say that we do not, in any way, need it to have a revival.
No, a reboot is not currently in the works. But The Hollywood Reporter’s profile of Lena Dunham this week revealed that she “has engaged in informal talks with HBO about getting the gang back together for an older and wiser version of the quintessential millennial series,” similar to the Sex and the City reboot And Just Like That. Dunham also has a production deal with the network titan. Casey Bloys, chief content officer of HBO and HBO Max, did tell the magazine, “As proud of the show as we are, there aren’t any plans to bring Girls back. It’s great to know new viewers will continue to discover the [original] series.” Dunham continued, “We all recognize it’s not time yet. I want it to be at a moment when the characters’ lives have really changed. Right now, everyone would just be wanting to see Kylo Ren.” But there’s the key word... “yet.”
Sure, it might be interesting to see the original four characters on Girls grown into their thirties and be consumed with their ennui in a new way. But we have to ask: what good does that do anybody? The original show was mired in white privilege and an unshakable ickiness of nepotism. All four of the series’ main stars are the daughters of famous people, and there was a sensationalism surrounding Dunham, an Oberlin grad who seemingly made one student film and suddenly had Judd Apatow as an entertainment Fairy Godfather.
But it wasn’t just the circumstances of the show that made it problematic, it was the storylines. Its earlier seasons were clumsy explorations the uninteresting quirks of being a privileged, young, millennial white woman. And even as the show matured in later seasons, it narrowly focused on Dunham’s character of Hannah, despite poor attempts to expand away from her. At the time that the show aired, it was hard not to see it as a narcissistic fantasy projection; like we were in Dunham’s frequently nudist, fancy fever dream and couldn’t get out. It was the myopic vision of a twenty-something making television about twenty-somethings — and its best episodes were the ones where Dunham allowed other creators to write and direct, lending it finally a fresh perspective.
The show did eventually address the criticism of representation and racism to evolve into a more holistic vision of young adulthood. But the synthesized privilege among its characters continued — a reboot would likely feel the same, just with botox, fillers and some pithier dialogue from its now older cast. Also, shows like Insecure, The L Word, and Fleabag have already moved the needle way past what Girls can perhaps be credited with starting, but certainly not finishing — while shows like Younger and Love Life already beat Girls to the punch of having a show delve into what it means to be in your thirties in New York City.
In the THR profile, Dunham details how her new film Sharp Stick (premiering January 22) translates her struggles with having had a hysterectomy into a story about a young babysitter who undergoes the same procedure at the beginning of her womanhood, while also losing her virginity to her boss. Dunham beams about the project and its secret filming in LA in 2021 with an all-female crew. She says of her creative process, “It was about trying to understand the impact [my hysterectomy] had on me. It was about processing my life. And then, obviously, it becomes about the characters — and not about you at all.” And while I still find Dunham triggering in the haphazard way she flaunts serious issues, this is the kind of work that sounds like it will be so much more interesting to see from her. I’d much rather watch a “sexual fable” as she references it, inspired by her experience but not driven by it, than see Dunham be Hannah be Dunham again.