Girls is supposed to revolutionize TV by putting the “real” lives of young women out there. It’s creator (Lena Dunham) is supposed to be witty and the show is supposed to be half-an-hour of sarcasm and narcissism, supposedly lost to the characters, but not the creators who play the characters.
Anyway, it came on right after Games of Thrones and I watched because of curiosity. While I watched, three thoughts entered my mind in annoyed repetition. 1. The girls are not models–they look real. 2. What’s the point of this show and 3. If this was a show about three black girls would it be on HBO?
The problem with the show is that it’s just another show about rich, white people with problems. Is this exactly what it’s supposed to be? Witty. But here’s the deal, the creators are trying to piss in my hair while telling me it’s raining. The characters are the creators in fictionalized form, but the creators know something the characters don’t–they’re pathetic. They, the creators, are in on the narcissism of their characters. They know their characters are pathetic, and not for the reasons the characters think they’re pathetic, but rather because the characters’ problems are generic and the characters don’t know it. After all, Hannah, the main character, is an aspiring writer who declares herself “the voice of her generation,” and is trying to get her memoirs published–her biggest problem. Another character, the best friend, is stuck with a “vagina” of a boyfriend.
Yet…yet…yet.. this is based on Dunham’s real life and the girls she knows. It remains true that the creators used their privilege as a stepping stone to get the show and it worked. So, it doesn’t kill the fact that we’re watching a show about the lives of privileged white girls, yet again. Hannah, the main character, and all her friends, have affluent parents, not unlike the actors in real-life. Dunham’s mother is well-known photographer, Laurie Simmons, and her TV parents are professors. Her best friend is played by Newsman Brian Williams’ daughter, Allison.
When will white people realize that if you have affluent parents you’re not estranged from, then you’re not poor or struggling? (Mitt Romney, I’m talking to you!) Hannah lives in a shabby apartment, sure, but the fact that she can afford her own apartment in NYC while jobless is telling. If she crashes and burns, she can always find her parents (which she does in a luxury hotel); her parents give her rent and food money (but they’re cutting her off).
Would this show have gotten picked up by HBO with blacks girls? Would HBO give me a platform to complain about my inability to find a literary agent, much less a publisher? Or, to fuss and worry about if I’ll find real work? Unlike Dunham and her ilk, I know that if I fail to work, I can’t depend on my parents for financial support. Unlike’s Hannah’s parents, mine are working class, or the working poor, the new term for those on the lower end of the shrinking middle-class. Hannah’s parents give her $1000 plus a month; I’d be lucky if my parents can find the cost of a transit ticket to help me travel to an unpaid internship (Hannah’s job until the end of episode 1). Maybe that’s the real difference between Dunham and me. She’s privileged, so she gets a paid platform to express her disenchantment, while I get a free blog almost no one reads to rant my frustration. Then again, fortune favors the privileged and Dunham is privileged. This fact got her a TV show.