Are the women in Girls (TV series) Commendable?
In two seasons, Girls has established itself as a cracking and thought-provoking show. Smart, sensitive, and realistic – the show has held a mirror up to society and proven that we should all look out for one another. For those who haven’t heard of the show, there are three things you need to know about it. First, a lot of whinging is involved. Second, It involves a wave of bland, washed out tones. Third, many characters get naked at some point or another. Many critics have failed to look past these three elements; citing its hipsterness as the cause of all problems affecting modern TV! I believe the show’s characters are what make it whole. They may be silly sometimes, but isn’t everyone at some point or another? Some of us are even sillier than the characters on this show (myself included)! All four main characters represent different emotional states (states of mind or being). I recently looked back on the first two seasons to determine how and why so many people consider these characters to be annoying, selfish, and even disgusting. Hopefully, this will convince others that a. this show is effective, and b. we should embrace who and what the people around us want to become.
Hannah Horvath (Lena Dunham)
Hannah may be a layabout, but she represents people who believe they have tried and failed to conquer the world. Everyone has felt this way at some point or another. Despite her obsession with what everyone else thinks, Hannah tries to succeed but can’t find the right words or pathways to do so. Hormones and self-esteem issues affect everyone to a certain extent at some point in their lives. Hannah is a walking time bomb. This is no more evident than in the first scene of season one. While her parents talk to her over dinner about cutting off her financial ties, she freaks out and begins to wonder who or what she is. From this episode onwards, she transforms from a whiny, self-conscious person, to an even more self-conscious person, to an optimistic and sweet individual. Battered (figuratively) by her strange boyfriend Adam (Adam Driver), she attaches herself to him before he can decide whether or not he wants her. Despite her abrasive attitude and multitude of errors, she does care about her friends and wishes for them to be successful. In the first season, her falling out with Marnie is realistic and punishing. Despite being in the wrong, her decisions are reminiscent of impulsive choices young people make everyday. She uses her sexuality to prove why and how she is important to people around her. Getting naked in every episode, her erotic interludes with Patrick Wilson and Donald Glover’s characters allowed us into her psyche and strip the character bare in more ways than one.
Marnie Michaels (Allison Williams)
Marnie may be the series’ most annoying and self-centred character. From the very beginning, she manipulates and lies to everyone around her. This type of girl may exist in real life, but that doesn’t make them interesting and/or likeable. From the first episode, it’s clear she doesn’t like her current boyfriend. despite being a nice guy who has been dating her since high school, she pushes their relationship along because she is self-centred and afraid of change. Admittedly, this occurrence is common. However, Marnie’s manipulative and dirt-cheap tricks only suit her. From then on, she proceeds to have make-up/break-up sex with him, whine about her job prospects, sleep around, and whine some more. Her appearance is one of many positive aspects that she frustratingly fails to notice. Her character may have realistic traits, but she fails to grasp why people around her treat her the way they do. However, season 2 shows a naively sensitive side to her. She soon becomes jealous of her ex-boyfriend’s success and seeks redemption and solace. Her character becomes slightly charming, despite stupidly getting on stage and singing Kanye West’s ‘Stronger’ at a party. Despite this behaviour, she is slowly coming into her own and becoming a much more likeable human being.
Jess Johansson (Jemima Kirke)
Despite having a limited amount of screen time, Jess is the most outlandish character in the show. Her trippy philosophies and ‘free as a bird’ attitude are puzzling yet intriguing parts of a heavily damaged psyche. In season 1, her babysitting job is tested when the father falls for her beauty and sluttiness. Certain episodes then focus on the painful decisions she makes and hearts she will inevitably break. The character may act like she is high on lithium, but her raw honesty keeps the audience invested. Jess and the other characters (Hannah, in particular) bond over many silly incidences and memories while the future becomes increasingly bleak. Her rushed marriage with Chris O Dowd’s character is another important factor. Here, Jess pushes everyone away. But, unlike other female characters on TV, she admits wholeheartedly to having dark and crippling issues. Her selfish ways then become a part of the season 2’s overall narrative structure. In one episode, Hannah and Jess visit Jess’ father and his new family. This touching episode, bolstered by Ben Mendelsohn’s scene stealing performance, brings Jess’ human side to the forefront. Whether or not she’s a morally driven individual, her vibrancy and warmth lend this show an aura of care and sensitivity.
Shoshanna Shapiro (Zosia Mamet)
As (essentially) a sex-obsessed chipmunk, Shoshanna is used as background dressing in many episodes. However, her manic charm and loving side make her the show’s most interesting character. In the first season, she is discovering the world and her wavering inhibitions. A virgin at 24, her seemingly promiscuous friends decide that she is just fine the way she is (a bold move that separates this show from others of its type). Throughout the season, she decidedly finds a place to call home and strives to find things that will give her happiness (including her new boyfriend). She is also a hilarious counterpart to Hannah. Hannah’s soft personality is met with Shoshanna’s ‘and then…and then…and then…’ way of speaking. Rushing into every situation, Shoshanna embodies the manic persona of many girls her age. However, she successfully avoids becoming a Sex and the City type character (a show referenced in the first episode) and amiably finds her calling. There is one episode in particular that establishes her as hilarious and thoughtful. Her drug-related freakout ably establishes her as a sweet yet lively person afraid of being unafraid.
Whether they be manic pixie dream girls or frightened loners, the characters in Girls have traits that everyone can relate to. These characters have changed drastically throughout seasons 1 and 2; choosing to see the seeing the bright side of life beyond the darkness. The end of season 2 depicts the four lead characters as independent, unique women – transforming themselves beyond the promise of the show’s title.
What do you think? Leave a comment.