I truly never thought I’d feel compelled to write about this show. If you’re somehow not familiar, Girls is an HBO original created by Lena Dunham that follows the lives of four white women in New York City as they navigate their 20’s. As it gained popularity, Lena Dunham was both hailed as the Voice of a Generation and harangued for being a White Feminist. Which like, honestly both are probably true to some extent, but I'm not here to talk about her. I never thought I would write about this show because Girls was never at the apex of my must-watch television list. It hovered somewhere near the top, then drifted down towards the middle, but now as it's ending I've found myself feeling surprisingly nostalgic.
I was talking to a friend the other day, trying to figure out why that is. What has triggered feelings of nostalgia at the series wrap-up? One thing we came to that I hadn’t previously realized was that we kind of grew up with Girls. Most of the people I know who watched and kept up with the show are close to, if not exactly the same age as the characters depicted on screen, making us, when it started, around the ages of 22/23. Which I’d argue is probably the most fragile part of your 20s because it marks the end of the beginning. You’ve cleared your teens by a couple years, you’ve graduated college, you’re officially an adult by most of the world’s standards, but that frontal lobe's still not quite fully developed and you have no fucking clue what to do with yourself. And to top it off, you can drink legally now, so it’s really like a powder keg of circumstances. I don’t know about your early 20s, but mine were a WRECK. And Girls provided a space where I got to see my poor choices, or more often worse ones, portrayed on screen which was comforting and created an odd sense of camaraderie, not only with the characters but with other American women around the same age who saw themselves reflected in the show.
Of course when I say that I saw myself reflected, I’m speaking loosely. It’s well documented that the show had a glaring lack of color, particularly egregious for a story set in Brooklyn. But generally we got to see people going through similar shit we were going through. Navigating dating and pseudo-dating relationships, dealing with conflicts within friendship, realizing maybe your friends are actually shitty people, realizing maybe you’re also kind of a shitty person, learning to establish your Self within the context of parental relationships, dealing with the fallout when those parental relationships break down, etc. And that experience, of seeing your life unfold on screen, was unifying. We shared commonality. Even the quality of the show as it progressed feels like a metaphor for going through your 20s. It starts out and everything’s great, everyone’s excited, your dumb drunk stories are still cute, it's a blast! (Seasons 1-2). Then somewhere around the middle it's not so cute anymore. You feel lost, and like no matter how much you try you can’t stop making bad decisions, and everyone is kind of annoyed, including yourself (Seasons 3-5). But then hopefully by the end you start to get the hang of it. You feel more comfortable with yourself which then makes everything else feel easier, and everyone can breathe a sigh of relief (Season 6). I feel like even though there is plenty of room for criticism of Girls, it did a good job of showing how people can evolve and step into themselves more fully. I appreciated the telling of these stories, 10/10 would recommend. Okay 8/10.