Recap Television

The Inner Struggle of Enjoying HBO’s Girls

Last night, after an insane half-week at work, I finally sat down to watch the season premiere of Girls, the hit HBO show written by the newly crowned by Vogue “Queen of Comedy” Lena Dunham.

I had discovered Girls last year just as the second season was premiering. Thanks to the genius product that is HBO GO, I was able to binge-watch the entire first season on my winter break and I absolutely loved it. I fell off with the series as school was winding down, but I caught up within the last two weeks, so I was ready for the new season.

After watching this season’s first two episodes, I realized something pretty disturbing: I should actually hate this show.

The season premiere brought it home to me that pretty much all of the characters that I spent an hour watching suck. Like, they really freaking suck. Not just in the sense that they are bad people (even though they are), because I love pretty much every character in Scandal and they are verifiable monsters. I mean in the sense that if I ran into Hannah or Jenna or Marnie or Shoshanna or Ray in the street, I would run in the opposite direction because being around them would be excruciating torture.

Actually, I would probably either punch Hannah square in the jaw or scream at her for 30 minutes, then run away.

Seriously, the main cast of Girls, save for Adam, are all extremely awful, soul-sucking people who drown in their own banal narcissism. A root canal is more engaging than listening to them talk about their aimless lives. I should despise this show for painting a dire picture of Millennial life in New York that makes BuzzFeed seem supportive in comparison.

And yet, I love this show.

See my struggle?

Here’s my reasoning.

Lena Dunham is a smart enough writer to understand just how absurd these characters and their dialogue are and to let the viewer in on the joke. Girls is called a comedy for a reason. It’s not because funny things happen to these characters, or the characters do funny things. The comedy lies in the characters themselves. They are messy people who say messy things and do messier things, and the insanity of it all is where the comedy is derived. Even better, Dunham doesn’t try to force these characters down our throats, trying to make them likable. She is totally fine that we hate them, as long as we see them as fully realized, three-dimensional beings. Hannah, on paper, is absolutely awful and should be avoided like the plague. However, she’s totally real and we all probably know someone like her, or worse, have a bit of her in ourselves (if you can fully relate to Hannah, well then I don’t know what to tell you, but Hannah takes medication now, so…).

It really goes to show that we are entering an age where we don’t have to like our television characters for us to enjoy a show. In fact, we should probably hate some of them. It’s excellent writing that keeps these characters from careening off the edge, and despite any unevenness the show may suffer from at times, Girls is an excellently written show, one of the best on television.

That is my justification for loving this show, and I’m sticking with it.

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