Girls – Pilot
Back when I first heard HBO announce this show I had no idea who or what a Lena Dunham was and so I paid it little mind. Since then though I have seen her debut feature, Tiny Furniture, -which served as a sort of backdoor pilot/ proof of concept for the series -and gotten very excited about seeing just what she would do with this opportunity to continue that story and style. Now, no, the show isn’t a sequel in the strictest of senses but the strength of the bonds between the two is undeniable, they are akin and that is thanks to Dunham’s divisive style of directing; primarily the way that she makes her movies so indistinguishable from her own life. Tiny Furniture is a film about a female post-grad who moves back into her mothers house to live while she figures her life out: Dunham plays the lead, cast her mother and sister in the roles of her mother and sister and shot the film in her mother’s actual loft just after, yes, graduating. Here in Girls she seems to stretch the facts a little nit further but it is still tough for us to figure out where the line should be drawn between whats real and whats written, though Dunham herself seems to keep it held quite straight. Her work never feels self-obsessed or documentarian, just so genuine that by the end of it you feel that you know these women better than you do most of your own friends.
This is going to sound incredibly condescending coming from a male such as myself, but i’m actually being genuine when I say it: Lena Dunham knows women and depicts them much better than the vast majority of filmmakers out there, regardless of their gender. Girls is the perfect title for this show because that is exactly what it is about; though not, may I add, who it is for: Cops is not just for cops or Mad Men for males living on a certain avenue and any assumption otherwise is as silly as those ideas sound. In particular the show focuses, if in fact that is the right word to use in this modern mumblecore style, on female relationships: on what it is like to be a sister, mother, daughter, girlfriend, best friend and every other iteration of woman in today’s world and though this should feel overly familiar its actually fascinating thanks to the singular nature of its execution. This is why Dunham’s daring depiction is so important; she obviously hasn’t set out to glamorize the lives of those girls she puts on display but she isn’t gouging them either, just giving them the chance to be seen.
As a straight male this isn’t a world that I ever get to actually see – it’s as foreign to me as the Arabian peninsulas or the Serengeti of Africa – because as soon as a guy enters its vicinity this particular place evaporates and e people in it stop, turn and stare at the intruder but here the private is presented with purity; there is no facade to fall back behind, in many cases quite literally as there aren’t even any clothes to hide in. Like in those lands i mentioned earlier there is an unfortunate underside to the beauty and Girls shows this. Though the lives these girls live are priveliged ones they are not without their pressures -suffering is of course, entirely subjective – and as weak willed women they often give in to those pressures. Dunham straddles the line between satire and self-loathing with her depiction of them; never condoning that style of life but not completely condemning it either, she realizes that it is wrong but unavoidable and treats it as such. The show then is really a mediation on the selfish and ungrateful nature of our generation, and if we’re being honest that’s what we’re known for?
Now if you’re thinking that this sounds like someone you don’t want to watch a show about you should think again because that is of course the point. These aren’t supposed to be idle women, we’re not supposed to want or want to be them – like some other NYC girls from HBO – in fact a lot of the time we’re supposed to want to wring their necks, but this insufferability is the most realistic part of the program. Think of someone in your life who you havn’t hated, if only for a second.
Dunham has created a real person here – whether or not that person is Lena Dunham is besides the point – and a cast of equally lifelike supports and so even though they are ridiculous – writing a memoir at her age is ridiculous, but then I guess she actually is – we treat them like we would someone that we met in real life, which for most of us non-sociopaths is kindly, we empathize. If though you’re someone who cannot relate at all to any of these characters, personally or peripherally, then you can at least laugh at the girls, whilst the rest of us cry with them.
In the trailer for Girls Aura utters the line “ I feel like i’m the voice of my generation… Or a voice… of a generation,” and as far as i’m concerned she needn’t have tried to hide the truth beneath false modesty. Though many may write this show off as pretentious or self-pandering, hurling words like “egotistical” and “indulgent” at its maker they aren’t in any way disproving its point, in fact they are actually helping define it; whether you like it or not Girls is indicative of my life and the life of nearly everyone I know. I daresay that she could have stuck the camera in any number of apartments and found a show that told much the same story, but without her specific stylings it likely wouldn’t have been half as funny or moving.