Stand Up and Take a Bow Sky Atlantic’s Girls!

Sky Atlantic’s Girls in its pre-publicity was dubbed the ‘new’ Sex and the City but I must clear this up straight away. 

Sky Atlantic’s Girls in its pre-publicity was dubbed the ‘new’ Sex and the City but I must clear this up straight away. 

It’s nothing like it.

I may have only seen the odd episode when there was nothing else on but the only comparison I can see between the two is that they are both set in New York City.

Middle class twenty somethings

Girls chronicles the lives of listless, over-educated, middle-class twenty somethings who are pushed from pillar to post by the publishing houses and art galleries that so many people of the same age are trying to get into. Going from internship to internship and never managing to get a job because of the high demand, we are presented with four young women trying to succeed in different aspects of life.

There’s potential protagonist Hannah (Lena Dunham) trying to find inspiration for her debut book whilst understanding what kind of relationship she has with the dysfunctional, Adam. Best friend and uptight Marnie (Allison Williams), free spirit Jessa (Jemima Kirke), who flees rather than faces her problems, and my favourite character – Shoshanna, played by Zosia Mamet, the naïve virgin who’s one-liners, like ‘I may be deflowered but I am not devalued’ have you laughing out loud.

The comedy takes different forms

The comedy of the programme takes different forms from the laugh-out-loud, wickedly witty and gleefully gauche. The sex scenes leave your stomach churning thanks to the awkwardness of the performance and the ‘leave it for another time’ pillow talk, which could be argued as giving a true portrayal of the act of making love.

None of this would be achievable without the talented Lena Dunham, who as well as providing a stellar performance also created, writes and directs the show, which has seen global success, at the age of 26. Her portrayal of Hannah’s extreme OCD that is exposed in the second series is deeply admirable as is her way of making the audience love and hate the character.

Dunham doesn’t only do flippant

But Dunham doesn’t only do flippant. The comedy drama has tackled the somewhat taboo subjects of abortion, drug use, mental illness and STI’s. In the second episode Hannah gets tested, something she is paranoid about. So paranoid, in particular about getting AIDS, that over the course of the visit to her gynaecologist she persuades herself she actually wants to get AIDS. “That is an incredibly silly thing to say” her gynaecologist says. “You do NOT want to get AIDS…”

Girlsalso addresses the somewhat benign questions that we ask ourselves and our friends about regularly. During a discussion about the “totem of chat,” Hannah and best friend Marnie rank the acceptability of the different forms of communication.

They are in agreement that sending a Facebook message is at the bottom with text messaging following next, email second and talking on the phone at the top. “Face to face is of course ideal,” says Marnie, “but it’s not of this time.”

In tune with audience and reflective of culture

This example shows how in tune Girls is with its audience and today’s social communication obsessive society. As much as television is a medium for escapism, viewers seem to enjoy watching other people suffering and dealing with life’s dramas. The popularity of soap operas in the UK is evidence of this as peak points of drama pull in high viewing figures because of the perverted entertainment suffering seems to supply.

The programmes ability to be reflective of culture isn’t the only commendable quality. HBO’s choice to cast ‘ordinary’ looking girls in the four principle roles should be celebrated also. Dunham and her counterparts don’t fit into the idealised image the media is accused of portraying.

The brilliance of Lena Dunham

American TV shows have become notorious for casting beautiful, model-esque actors in roles, which are supposed to mirror the ‘average’ citizen. In some cases they are a lot older than the characters they are playing, which distorts reality. Girls‘ casting choice is refreshing and hopefully will pave the way for change.  

There is no doubting the brilliance of Lena Dunham in providing an insight into her generation and I shall be eagerly anticipating the arrival of season three next year.

What do you think of Girls? Have your say in the comments section below, on Facebook or on Twitter.