QuestionThirty – Q30

“Girls” Gives TV Critics Sandy Vaj

girls hannah marnie jessa

girls hannah marnie jessa Why should we watch the dislikable”Girls”?

girls jessa suitcaseI dragged my body weight in emotional baggage to New York City in the fall 2005, along with two giant suitcases stuffed full of H&M baby-tees. With fresh wounds weeping after a break-up with my college sweetheart, I hunted for an affordable apartment in a neighborhood with artistic atmosphere. I settled in Greenpoint, the Brooklyn neighborhood where Hannah lives and works at a coffee shop in HBO’s “Girls,” in the very early days of the Polish neighborhood’s gentrification, before most the natives had been forced out by rent hikes that arrived along with the hipsters.

Back then, the western streets were still lined by abandoned warehouses rather than boho boutiques, and my roomies and I climbed through holes conveniently cut by interlopers into the chain link fences by the waterfront to sunbathe on seagull shit covered boulders, while the East River boat wakes lapped Bud cans, plastic bags, and yellow foam into watery crevices at our feet. We smoked funny cigarettes in front of the stellar view of Manhattan across the river, and bitched about our post-adolescent anguish and fledgling careers.

Despite the bourge-y changes in Greenpoint that arrived with newest wave of entitled, young, upper-middle class NYC immigrants like Hannah and her friends, I can relate to the “Girls” constant self-obsessive rhetoric and, unlike many critics, I don’t find these girls so unlikeable.girls kitchen table brighter

I won’t argue that the girls of “Girls” aren’t self-obsessed, but to declare the show unwatchable, like Washington Post’s Hank Stuever in his article “ ‘Girls’ and ‘Shameless’: Despicableness is definitely an acquired taste,” is an egregious error. Stuever writes, “We are talking too much about a show that is only about the hollowness of empty, despicable people. Ignoring “Girls” doesn’t mean you’re old or missing a joke or even that you’re anti-feminist.” Actually, yeah, Hank, it kind of does mean “you’re…missing the joke,” especially when the dismissal comes from a successful, male baby boomer.

Oprah, Lisa Vanderpump, and Miley Cyrus tweet, “Live your truth,” a commandment the “Girls” obey, without considering what truth means…

…Jessa interprets this philosophy by telling the truth, calling out her fellow rehab inmates like she’s Perez Hilton…

…Hannah panders to her editors asking a former junkie to buy her blow in season two, and through the road trip we see in season three, hoping to channel Hunter S. Thompson (I assume) or some other egocentric author who writes through the lens of trip upon trip–psychedelic and road…

What’s the difference between living your truth and pursuing a delusional fantasy?

Shoshanna's top bunk oh-face.

Shoshanna’s top bunk oh-face.

Obviously, we aren’t all built to be prima ballerinas; some dreams just can’t come true…

…Marnie misinterprets living truth as living out her fantasy, embarrassing herself by belting tunes to her ex-boyfriend…

…Shoshanna is getting Rihanna raunchy, sleeping her way around dorm room top bunk beds, and why shouldn’t she?–as long as she keeps those college boys’ Chupa Chups wrapped up.

Hannah didn't road trip to hike, mofos.

Hannah didn’t road trip to hike, mofos.

The “live your truth” message has messed with the girls minds at the expense of consideration and compassion for others. While having a Rolling Stones moment, Adam reminds Hannah, “you can’t always get what you want,” if getting what you want comes at the emotional expense of others. How can we teach this to children who may get what they want more easily and often because they’ve been born into economically comfortable families? The girls are blind to their upper-middle class privilege and, therefore, inherently successful lives. We need to repackage the “live your truth” message to benefit millennials before they become our sociopathic world leaders.

emmy-shamelessBut apparently that’s not what TV critics care to discuss. What would you rather talk about, critics with the sandy-va-jay-jays? Don Draper’s daddy issues? Francis Underwood’s spanking then spunking on Zoe Barnes, who looks like his prepubescent son? Talk about daddy issues. Ew.

Critics, please shake the sand from your bikini bottoms and tell us: what cultural topic is relevant enough to talk about?

Steuver says, when compared to “Girls,” he prefers “Shameless,” despite its equally unlikeable characters.

I’ve witnessed more than enough middle-aged, white alcoholics destroying their children’s lives from my sleeping bag at middle school slumber parties in the suburbs. 

Not to mention, I don’t want to watch any more onscreen perfect, perky mammories jiggle, like Emmy Rossum’s as she gets screwed over a kitchen full of dirty dishes. Show me a woman in her early(ish) twenties with a not-so-famished body who gets done doggy-style by a hot dude who doesn’t fit in at a hipster bar but might find a place on the autism spectrum, and I’m hooked.

I’ve seen “Shameless.” I want to watch more self-obsessed, fluffy “Girls” get rammed by Rain Man. Whoop!

Hannah rethinks a post-coital snuggle.

Hannah rethinks a post-coital snuggle.

I apologize if I was too hard on you, Mr. Stuever, but Gen-Y and Millennials are a complicated bunch, not just spoiled, self-serving brats who make shows that are irrelevant to cultural conversation. I think many of us, including me, have gone through a nasty early twenties phase, totally absorbed by our adult-ish facades, and come out on the other side of twenty five-ish perfectly lovely, caring human beings. Honest self-reflection is a skill that needs to be explicitly taught, encouraged, and practiced. With time, I learned true compassion, and I hope Dunham has this epiphany in mind for Hannah, Marnie, Shoshanna, and Jessa too.


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Lauren Sczudlo

am a 30-year-old nap enthusiast, former high school English teacher, world traveling vineyard laborer, and picture book librarian, pursuing her life-long dream of being a ‘real’ writer.

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