Sunday, February 10, 2013

Review | Girls (Season 1)

To: Lena Dunham
CC: 2012, everybody who watches the show Girls
SUBJECT: My thoughts on your show

Dear Lena,

I wouldn't go as far as addressing you as madam, because apparently it's not the norm anymore to address you as Monsieur or Dame when you write a letter. Also it would be a bad idea if I actually address you as Ms Dunham. Anyway, how are you? I am fine thanks, but let's talk about your show titled Girls.

With that show, you have already became a household name in a year which everything is more likely to go viral on the web in milliseconds. With the likes of PSY, Rebecca Black or god forbid Lauren Faust, you have become the voice of thousands of women girls living in urban sprawls while climbing their way through uni. And I say this as a man who just finished high school, almost missed the cut off of my preferred courses in every university I observed,but ultimately got an alternate pathway through one of them*. Seems to be the worst scenario to establish your post high-school life.

Well, my point is I had a lot of setbacks, just like your character from Girls, Hannah. Like her, I was under financial and emotional debt except I have been duped from signing a contract at the gym, failed my driving test twice, and have lost the chance to work at the local library. The only thing me and Hannah have in common have to do with getting a job, yet she still fail to live up with her goals. The thing is I would want to relate and identify with these characters, but the biggest roadblock is this is you. And I want to ask... WHY WON'T YOU LET ME LIKE YOU?


So Girls is about the experiences of four Manhattan girls in their early to mid 20s and all their discuss are their relationships, their sexualities, goals in life and vaginas.We see your character Hannah at the beginning already facing financial difficulties. Not only has she not paid rent, but her parents cut her off as well as getting fired for her job. Her friend/roommate Marnie (played by Allison Williams) has to deal with her baggage and her friend with benefit Adam is only there as her emotional support and he rarely has his shirt on. Also within the friendship circle is their British bohemian friend Jessa (Jemima Kirke) and her young, insecure yet naive Jewish cousin Shoshanna (Zozia Mamet). Jessa is this fashionista who just got back fom France and is unapologetic about the numerous amounts of partners she had back them, amongst the other countries she visited in.
Apparently this club has less lighting
I'm pretty sure that your experiences in Manhattan might have anyone INCLUDING those other than white. Well OK, I am getting too ahead of myself in condemning this show because it doesn't have Indians, Arabs, African-Americans or Asians and thus I might be jumping the bandwagon. BUT I do understand why there's is a problem when a HBO show like Girls is not culturally diverse. Sure there is a gay character (counted) and two of the main characters are Jewish, but if you're trying to make a show about yourself living in New York where it's not possible not to encounter anyone that is of different color, then that will be a huge setback. I know it wouldn't be true, but that will at least improve your way in being the "voice of a generation".

Since Girls had its premiere people had dismissed this show as a Sex and a City wannabe. But from the first episode, it shows that it isn't even giving us a self-referential mention of the show. I can tell you from the bat that I would feel sorry for your character/alter ego Hannah if you wern't completely worthless and that the whole aesthetic of the half hour had been boring. Then again, most pilots are always the starting point of TV shows and would then improve.

But with Hannah, each episode has to revolve around making mistakes... without realizing that you fucked up every opportunity. And I could identify with that like I said if you're realizing that most of your situations contain risk. Even becoming a writer require a huge risk. Are you telling me that Hannah does these things without realising that they exist for a reason. Here's a list of the following major mistakes your character makes:
  1. Getting fired until realising you're getting a promotion
  2. Making a rape joke in a job interview
  3. Trying to seduce your boss because he's very open and touchy
  4. Firing back and forth against Adam but not realising he has feelings for you
  5. Reading your notes in front of ten academics that is dull because your boss tells you to don't write something fairly trivial. Seriously that guy is an asshole from the planet of Assholia
  6. At the season finale, you backed away from Adam by having your gay friend move over until he tells you 'I love you'
That's all I could list, except for some or more and what that shows is that either you or your character is the most indecisive, male depending and whiny woman ever to be depicted in any pop culture medium since Bella Swan... or maybe Juno from Juno. But still, every time you fuck up, you always have an excuse for it. I really hope your hamburger phone is connected.

To sum it all up, Hannah cannot bring herself to confront her problems or achieve her goals. Maybe she has some short-term memory loss or have completely forgotten what's surrounding her and what's need to be done, but regardless of the situation that shouldn't or should get to her, it's her that always causes the mess. Lena, the framing of yourself as a character is almost poor when you do nothing about those problems or trying to reach certain goals and it is made worst when you proclaim yourself once as becoming the voice of a generation. Whether or not it's supposed to be taken seriously, you probably went ahead of yourself there.

Though I can't keep on whining on about the show.... without actually talking about the other characters. Let's talk about your best friend... I mean your character's best friend Marnie. I wouldn't say she's unlikeable as Hannah was. But even with all of the problems that may be relatable, she's boring. She believes that she handles her relationship with nice guy Charlie so well, but couldn't simply because he's too nice. Even though she is perhaps the more accomplished person of the group, with a real job working at a New York art gallery and a real boyfriend, the kind of person Hannah wanted to be felt that within Marnies's thread, she doesn't really have any balls to lift spirits the relationship because his boyfriend is characterized as a man who treats her like her mother has a terminal illness. We see in a flashback in 2007 during their years in college we see Charlie and Marnie first lay eyes on each other which is one of the sweeter moments presented in the series so far.  It's her who has to hold Hannah's huge baggage while trying to bring herself to bring into more goals such as more progression with Charlie. These include trying to conceive when she's with him and when he's not around, she tries to move on without any interference from him. There are moments in which we should feel for the character such as Hannah accidentally getting into their relationship like a wrecking ball slamming into your house. But then it's ultimately turned unsubtle as they have uncomfortable sex.

I seriously won't do a Lonely Island reference here
Adam is Hannah's fuck buddy and he has at least some moments of sympathy like forcing her to look at how he masturbates or how he pees on her in the shower... OK, they may be shallow, but here's one thing Girls really succeed - making a man more likeable than the female characters. The way Hannah's romantic processes work is how Bella Swan's love triangle between Edward and Jacob turn out in the final Twilight novel. While Hannah is the Bella of the relationship, Adam is a mixture of the two male characters sharing Edward's psychotic mind while bringing Jacob's protective care to the girl he really likes. Don't worry, you and Adam Driver shares some great moments of chemistry, but it's how Hannah doesn't realize his feelings and yet wander aimlessly around Brooklyn to see what will happen to the job market or the male market and how she would butt in without knowing anything about it and what to do.

Jessa on the other hand is the show's British fashionista and is perhaps another character who is unclear of her goals and motivations due to the numerous men she had encountered with and whether or not she has HPV, she will still be doing it. Well if I have to had any defence of the show, it's this - Jessa is the female Barney Stinson; she's unapolegetic about her sex life but someday she'll have an epiphany giving herself the chance to shape her new life. Like... babysitting for a wealthy couple while flirting with the struggling father. Well, Lena; I should be very thankful that your friend Jemima Kirke actually does a good job playing the sleep-around bitch without a single ounce of slut shaming on her character. Her character doesn't go to great lengths to become intimate with the dad and it gets emotional once we see the end of their relationship. So the moral of the story is - never get emotionally involved with your employer.

But that stops probably the worst of your show's first season. Shoshanna is a character whose role is to be the silver lining of the show despite being Jessa's cousin and has the least presence than everyone else. She perhaps brings much joy for me since she is the comic relief that tends to lighten the tone of the film. The first time we're introduced to Shoshanna, she is seen with having less problems than the four women had experienced. She's currently at NYU, has a very precious room which comes with a Sex and the City movie poster (as I mentioned before, the show's self-awareness reflex). Her baggage seems rather irrevelent to the rest of the group as she is a virgin... at 22 and she brags about it a lot. Shoshanna might be a Frankenstein of the ditzy, genki Jewish Princess of the entire show and it may be that she is a cartoon of herself. But there are many moments where the character avoids this. Like one time, when the girls are at this warehouse rave party, she mistakenly took crack instead of weed and it brings a new frame in her character as she develops a relationship to Ray, Charlie's band mate and her "spirit guide". By the final episode, Shoshanna is perhaps the only person who accomplished anything (i.e. losing her virginity to Ray after getting jealous at a party. Also she pretty much sums up everyone on the show.)

Maybe my biggest problem with you Lena is that you have little self-respect. You got all these opportunities in life such as a possible career, a prospering relationship or finding a way to pay back debt and just teeters out for the sake of showing these people are flawed. Most of your audience, young women in their 20s or below, wouldn't identify with these characters. It's not the matter of presenting "this is what you see in us and you should be sympathetic" but more in "you see us now. What are you going to do about it?". The show shouldn't be called Girls, but instead the Lena Dunham Variety Half Hour because your character has more screen time than anyone here.

I at least stated good things about Girls. Like Shoshanna being the typical breakout character lifting much of the show's spirits or Jessa being the most realistic portrayal of white people, even Adam being the most likeable character and the performances from Zosia Mamet, Jemima Kirke and Adam Driver are great here. There's also a great moment about getting a HPV which is perhaps the most subtle moment of the show, although it was almost derailed by your character's attempt in black comedy.

I'm trying hard to stay out of the cynicism circle and instead become an optimist cos I am going to give the show a second chance by watching Season 2. If the show improves, then I'll watch Season 3, but if the show fails, then that's all I'm gonna take with it. This season seems to look promising from the final episode and it promises change with each character.

So Lena, I hope your show will NOT going to fail and I hope you would feel good about being... well, yourself. And move towards the American Dream, goddamnit!

Your sincerely,

Adrian Nguyen
The Professional Snob

*PS: I got into my most preferred university so I'm pretty happy.

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