If there’s one thing Lena Dunham can do better than most, it’s drawing lines in the sand. In casual discussion of both Dunham and her work, it’s uncommon to hear an indifferent voice. Over the past four seasons, Girls has become the show we love to hate. But whether you’re watching in expectation of brilliant material, or watching to find the next thing to gripe about on Monday, you’re watching.
In recent years, Lena Dunham has come under fire for her depiction of life as experienced by millennials in the big city. Only in the past season or two did Dunham make a keen effort to hoist her project from a grossly whitewashed vacuum chamber. Not to say that doing so in mainstream television is a simple feat, but looking back on seasons one and two, the effort to diversify the material was non-existent at its worst, and laughable at its best.
Girls is a lumbering target. It really is a blimp in a sky occupied by enemy fighter jets, hopelessly unable to evade incoming fire. Targeted for its poor representation of race and socio-economics in the Big Apple, on the surface, the criticism seems justified. Anything from the vexing Los Angeles-esque weather to the lack of well-rounded racial representation continues to alert critics. Critiques commonly attack the show for choosing to only show the tiresome stories surrounding the problems of the privileged. As a result of these assumptions of the show’s intentions, both the series and Dunham can be found indefinitely up the river—perhaps unwarrantedly so.
We must not consider if Girls is an accurate depiction of common life’s truisms, but if it is intended to be. We may be expecting too much from something so simple. The series may strive to encompass no reality other than that of the affluent, white twenty-something. In this case, we cannot blame Lena Dunham as a writer, or the series as a greater narrative presentation. We can, however, applaud the series for the accurate representation of a demographic we may have a hard time relating to. While to be young and affluent is not the case for the majority, it is the case for some, and Girls is the story of that some.
As many episodes do, the premier of season five embodies affluent American culture in an emphatic and self-deprecating way. Opening with the wedding of Marnie and Desi on a North-Eastern countryside property, the environment set before us speaks eloquently to the series’ mockery of struggling while privileged. The relationship shared by Marnie and Desi, played by Allison Williams and Ebon Moss-Bachrach, has been strained by miscommunication and creative differences—each character being one half of an indie-acoustic duo. The two characters have always embodied the trials and tribulations of the hip, or better put, the pseudo-bohemian, New York crowd.
At the wedding, Marnie’s inability to find satisfaction with the weather, the hired makeup artist, and her friends, along with Desi’s emotional breakdown and corny tear-drenched swim in a nearby creek is what many view as everything that’s wrong with Girls as a show. However, it is Hannah Horvath’s effort to behave and dress in a way that she feels most comfortable—her standing against the momentum of Marnie and the surrounding environment is what resuscitates reality, extinguishing the superficial. Hannah’s resistance reminds us that Lena Dunham is, in fact, aware of her characters’ social ineptitude.
Traditionally, Girls has struggled with being entertaining episode-to-episode, as a story of reality moves as reality does—slowly. Although the mundane is part of our reality, this is still TV, so let’s see something happen.
Images Via HBO