Brief, Unfocused Thoughts on HBO’s "Girls"

so i’m really coming around to hbo’s “girls,” after a somewhat shaky pilot, unmemorable second episode, but a third largely-cringeworthy, but wonderfully written and acted, and ending in one of my favorite scenes in 2012 tv thus far. just funny, unexpected, and genuinely touching. first thing that came to mind when i saw that scene was “fucking golden,” and that opinion hasn’t changed in the several times i’ve rewatched that episode. i think the world of lena dunham, but, as i’m starting to really get to work on my own series (and i’ve learned a great deal from “girls” already, and am looking forward to where it goes), the issues i have with “girls” boil down to two things, one far more important than the other.

the less relevant one is that the dialogue thus far (and i’m a fan of the show, not trying to prematurely judge its first season after only three episodes, but thus far) seems uneven and choppy at times, interspersing more than a few misses with some amazing one-liners. still looking for the consistency. secondly and more importantly, thus far the show has struck one note; it’s struck it well, presenting the idiom of we snarky, jaded and media-saturated 20-somethings better than any other show yet, and, though i don’t yet live in a major city (though i have, in the us and in germany), and seems to affirm that idiom’s accuracy based if only on my twitter feed lol. but it’s a note that has a limited range; “girls” seems to be described more often as comedy, but thus far it’s been more of a tragicomedy. i’m hoping to see it expand its scope, with the understanding on my part that it’s playing within its contours. none of the characters is particularly appealing, which is, of course, part of the point, but characters like adam (while extremely-well acted) just come across as one-dimensional. and maybe that’s the way things are in manhattan? been there multiple times, look forward to coming back, but haven’t lived there, but have lived in boston, berlin, and frankfurt, and the sort of cynicism that comes through most strongly in ms. dunham’s dialogue just misses more than it hits, in my view at least. when it hits, it’s pretty much the best out there, but the misses just seem forced.

i highly doubt i can ever match ms. dunham in terms of witty/current dialogue, and am not sure i want to (though i have the highest degree of respect and admiration for her). sort of always been an outsider in my generation, and as i get older and gain more experience and perspective, come more and more — really with each passing day — to take a skeptical approach to my generation’s skepticism. not to bash on “girls,” but at times thus far it’s seemed rote, and entirely rapt with itself. i think of that scene on boston common in “good will hunting” where robin williams tells an insanely-young matt damon, that to understand him (williams) and his depth requires loving something more than himself. now that’s had a great deal of personal relevance (another issue for another time), but makes an important point; that there’s a spectrum that exists between treacle and nihilism (of course, and more suited to philosophy theses than some random thoughts about a random medium). not to paint “girls” with either brush, which, it seems, is ms. dunham’s point.

i guess my counter (not in an antagonistic sense) — and what i’m trying to create — is a canvass on the el greco scale, or say a mahler symphony or something in that vein — with the focus on how complicated contemporary life can be across generations, dealing with 20-somethings sure, but also with 50-somethings and 50-somethings caring for their 80-something parents, all in the landscape of a mid-sized midwestern city burdened by the flight of the unionized manufacturing base. not to try to emulate “the wire” (though, as the best novel of the 2000s, is worthy of emulation, but to explore the landscape of rockford, ill.

looking forward to more “girls,” and will keep you posted on my own project. all in all though, tremendous respect for ms. dunham, and i really do look forward to experiencing more of her work.

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~ by Benji on 27 May 2012.

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