A series of film reviews and opinion pieces from a film student and all round movie lover! Happy reading!
Release: 2012 –
Created By: Lena Dunham
Produced By: Peter Phillips, Dan Sterling
Starring: Lena Dunham, Allison Williams, Adam Driver, Jemima Kirke, Zosia Mamet
Running Time: 26-31 Minutes
The idea of four twenty-somethings living in New York and struggling through the relentless obstacles it throws at them could be rather appealing to certain audiences. A series that could be labelled as “Sex And The City for the next generation” has a surprisingly nice ring to it.
What makes HBO’s Girls a more appealing show for not only the younger demographic, but females and males alike, is the characters, the stories and its ability to capture the ‘now’.
Incited by her parents cutting her off financially and leaving her completely on her own in the real world, Girls, through protagonist Hannah Horvath (creator Lena Dunham), focuses on independence, relationships, discovery and the most important transitions in a group of people’s lives.
The central characters are crafted from various stereotypes of modern American culture with a seemingly unique autobiographical touch. There’s something reflective and relatable within each of them, however simultaneously there are numerous qualities that alienate us to them all together.
Firstly, we have Hannah (Dunham) as the Carrie-like leading lady, constantly finding herself in the spotlight, even if she has to force her way there and step over those closest to her in the process.
As each new season passes and we’re introduced to a new Hannah hairstyle, her character becomes less quirky and more insufferable, to the point where one could find themselves raising their middle finger at the screen midway through one of her many narcissistic rants (yes, that someone was me…).
That being said, with episodes being a merciful 30-minutes in length, it’s rather easy to glide through without growing completely sick of the characters, in particular Miss Horvath.
Next is Shoshanna (Zosia Mammet), the Charlotte of the group. ‘Shosh’ as she’s regularly called, is the epitome of innocence. A hard worker and obsessive, Shoshanna’s escapades revolve around her unlocking herself to life’s greatest challenges (in the world of an American girl in her mid-twenties that is) such as relationships, sex, drugs and travel. Shosh’s endearing naivety makes her spiral and transformation all the more predictable, however as the seasons progress, it’s actually quite refreshing to follow her on her personal journey as it moves away from the sometimes laborious endurance test of characters such as Hannah.
For some viewers, the archetypal embodiment of entitled, spoiled brattiness is captured organically through Marnie (Allison Williams), the Miranda of the group in many aspects. Someone who strives for greatness and doesn’t mind putting herself out there, she is constantly making terrible decisions and getting caught in her own tangled web of failed relationships, careers and lifestyle choices.
Where her personal stories may grow a little boring, particularly when she begins writing music, she always manages to find a way to hook the viewer back in, for better or for worse; a quality most of the characters share at the end of it all.
Lastly, there’s Jessa (Jemima Kirke), Shoshanna’s off-putting British cousin with an attitude as large as the city in which she lives. Jessa is a difficult character to grasp completely, primarily due to her rollercoaster journey throughout the five seasons thus far. In some regards she’s a carbon copy of Samantha, however she’ll all too quickly prove to be the polar opposite of the promiscuous blonde bombshell.
Jessa certainly lives a life of highs and lows, it’s very black and white with no real grey area in which to breathe. Provocative, volatile and turbulent, Jessa is in some ways the most interesting character of the girls as she represents the extreme aspects of our culture that taps in to the generational narcissism of today’s youth – also her peculiar British/American accent is always fun to listen to!
Where Girls becomes a show that’s about more than petty arguing and failed relationships is with the leading female quartet’s interactions with the central members of the opposite sex.
The primary male and by far the most intriguing member of the bunch is Adam (Adam Driver), an enigma above all else who has wayward interests, peculiar social approaches and an infectious comedic awkwardness to him. Spending the majority of the first season shirtless in his apartment that could only be described as ‘a lunatic’s workshop’, Adam is an escape for Hannah. His contribution to the series may be small in terms of screen time, but retrospectively, the peripheral part he plays is integral to the unfolding of almost every other character’s story somewhere along the way.
Both sweet like a gentle giant and violently rampant like that of Kylo Ren on cocaine, Driver not only adds an element of alpha masculinity into the mix, he injects an imperative dose of interest into the default Mr Big role he undertakes.
Other male associates such as Ray (Alex Karpovsky), Desi (Ebon Moss-Bachrach), Charlie (Christopher Abbott), Elijah (Andrew Rannells) and Fran (Jake Lacy) represent different facets and stages in both the girls’ lives, but forms of the male ego. Exploring masculinity as much as femininity within the series, Girls is in fact as much about gender symbiosis as it is about a singular collective.
Although characters are despicable, intolerable and blood curdling at times, there’s something deeply relatable about them and what each character symbolises within modern culture.
We all know a Hannah, a Jessa, a Shoshanna, an Adam and a Marnie, and that’s the irritatingly engaging quality Girls possesses that keeps us coming back for more.
A show that grows on you, hooks you in and spits you out, only to rope you back in, Girls is certainly one of the more puzzling series that documents contemporary culture with a flair of Hollywood fantasticality.
Although creator Lena Dunham’s Hannah Horvath is a loud, irritating, self-obsessed narcissist, she deserves credit as a writer to portray herself this way. The temptation is undoubtedly there to paint oneself in a positive and likeable fashion, which, to an extent is the Hannah we are introduced to at first, however over the years, we see a gradual spiralling transformation into the monster that burns many a bridge throughout the span of five seasons.
Girls presents enough to keep our fixed interest episode after episode; slipping and sliding, rising and falling through the rollercoaster of modern life in the outskirts of the big city.