Is HBO'S Girls The New Sex And The City?

Four white middle-class women living the high life in New York. Sound familiar? Well, HBO's upcoming 'Girls' isn't quite Sex in the City, in a good way.
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Four white middle-class women living the high life in New York. Sound familiar? Well, HBO's upcoming 'Girls' isn't quite Sex in the City, in a good way.

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HBO’s acclaimed series Girls is coming to Sky Atlantic this October and it’s been lauded from word of mouth and critics alike as representing ‘real’ women, but is it any cop?

“Have you seen Girls? You’d love it.”
Sceptical look. “I heard it was terrible.”
“No that’s New Girl."
Blank.
"And 2 Broke Girls.”
"Hmmm…"
“No really, Girls is good. It’s about four girls who live in Brooklyn but they don’t make cupcakes or anything. It’s very REAL.”
“What’s with the girls buzz lately anyway?”
“I dunno. Just watch it.”

...to my horror, I found myself enjoying it.

After considerable goading from different parties and with some hospital recovery time in hand, I finally sat down to watch Lena Dunham's famed first series. And y'know what? It ain't half bad. I have to admit, I approached it with a sort of stubborn reluctance. I was waiting to hate it, patiently biding my time before laughing in its liberal arts ways, but to my horror, I found myself enjoying it. So what gives?

Getting past the pilot is crucial. If you do commit to the series - it is ten episodes to be fair - know that you will want to switch off after episode one. The reason? It’s not easy to sympathise with such a self-centred protagonist. Hannah is bratty and selfish, and too old to be acting such a chunt to her folks. They seem pretty sound. Yet, bear with Hannah, you might find yourself rooting for her. Actually you can say that about most of the characters; none are particularly likeable, some are pretty hateable to be honest. A part of you wants to bitch slap Hannah out of her own self-imposed misery, while another part of you hopes she's gets it together.

If you’re a fan of HBO’s other series about four women living in New York, you might rejoice at the familiar HBO “hommme” of the opening credits, however this where similarities with Sex and The City begin and end. Having it all this ain’t.

Co-writer and co-director Lena Dunham grew up idolising the SATC girls and apparently, the show is largely autobiographical. If you caught her debut film Tiny Furniture, you’ll already know what to expect tonally. In both, Lena’s characters struggle with life after a liberal arts degree. The internships. The rejections. The friendships. The body issues. The jerky boyfriends. Her character’s gynaecologist sums it up with "You couldn't pay me enough to be 24 again.” True that.

At the root of it, Girls is about four privileged, self-obsessed white girls.

Aside from Lena as the “13lbs overweight” protagonist Hannah, there’s also her uptight roommate Marnie, her well-travelled flaky and sexy friend Jessa, plus her naïve cousin Shoshanna. All but Marnie aren’t on the career path yet, and all four girls have varying relationship troubles, encompassing everything from being smothered in kindness to being totally degraded. Yep, there's a pissing scene.

Exploring relationships with men, friends and parents, Girls is self-indulgent of course, but humour in the little details out saves it. From losing out on a job on her internship to someone who knows Photoshop, to knowing she should take a HTML course and psyching herself up for dates, Hannah’s often cringe-inducing honesty hits some home truths.

There’s been a backlash of course and not without reason. At the root of it, Girls is about four privileged, self-obsessed white girls. This much is true. But unlike New Girl and 2 Broke Girls, HBO’s offering is typically more grounded in reality. There’s no canned laughter, no staged quips and at a count, just one scene with a cupcake.

Already filming the second series, Dunham's Instagram feed offers a snapshot into series two. It won't be on screens until the new year, but Dunham has promised to address some criticisms from season one, like the white skin homogeneity. Time will tell how the series develops. Like its characters, Girls isn’t perfect, but hey, it’s a step in the right direction.

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