I am officially now a “Girls” fan boy. Mark it down, put it in a paper, fly it from a plane: I’m not ashamed to say that I am like the most massive, not physically, as I’m only 6’1” and I avoided some of the more caloric excesses of the holidays, fan of the show that I know. Lena Dunham is a brilliant writer and actor, and the show has earned every little bit of praise that it’s gotten so far–and none of the negative reviews.
That said, this is not the space for a television review of the show. Sure, it has great cinematography, acting, direction, blocking, editing, etc., but the real highlight of the show is its casting and dialogue, and the choices that the show’s creators, Judd Apatow, he of “Knocked Up” and “Superbad” fame, is also a producer, make when trying to accurately portray life as it is it happens right now.
In terms of dialogue, the show is just miles ahead of most other visual media produced currently. “Skyfall” earned a billion dollars recently, and that movie has some of the worst, most cliche-ridden dialogue of the last several years. In “Girls,” however, characters talk and interact with each other in ways that seem ripped out of everyday life.
It is not just the content of the discussions, though it’s hard to imagine milennial characters dismaying about their ennui in anything other than milennialese; it is also the form of the discussions. Characters talk to each other with the dialogue and lingo of Twitter and Facebook and Snapchat. Kudos to Dunham. I am not saying that I know the inner lingo of the British intelligence top-secret underground, but I still imagine that the young stereotypical tech dweebs that they portrayed in the movie would still talk like young stereotypical tech dweebs, not Sir Walter Raleigh with a laptop.
The casting of “Girls” is top-notch, too. Though there are certain characters that are attractive and put-together, both the main characters and the bit actors look more real than anything else on television. There’s a fair amount of nudity, but it’s not like most of the rest of the film/television industry in that there are only beautiful people. Authentic-looking folks are portrayed honestly and non-disparingingly, and there’s a range of body types and attractiveness levels. Compare this to the typical male gaze of shows like “Game of Thrones” and anything on network television. It is a heck of a lot more empowering and liberating to see women, especially on television, that don’t fit into the typical mold of what a bunch of 40-to-60 year old television producers think 18-to-35 year old males will want to see.
So maybe this did turn into a bit of a review piece, but I still want to make a larger point: there needs to be more stuff like “Girls” on television. Mass visual media has been dominated by a singular male focus for far too long, and this male focus has resulted in generations of women only seeing a few kinds of role models for what women look like. Less awful but still awful has been the portrayal of relationships, too, as sweeping unions of beautiful people who talk in poetry. Real life is not like that, and those “ums” and “uhhs” and “Facebook mes” are much more authentic than whatever drivel we get day after day from plastic-surgery ridden models as they try not to overact, should be easy after all that Botox, but nope, it’s not. Watch the show. Let the powers that be know that we want more of that stuff.