Let’s get this out of the way: Girls may be on HBO and based in New York City, but it’s not a regurgitated Sex and the City. Execs have already tried that with failures like Lipstick Jungle and Cashmere Mafia. I’m still trying to ignore that The Carrie Diaries is in production.
Moving on. HBO’s new series, written and created by star Lena Dunham, centers on four friends (the magic number!) who are going through various life trials. Sex is a part of it; money is a part of it; career, families, STDs — they’re all part of it, because that’s the type of stuff real life women worry about. And the thing about these specific girls is they are at varying stages in their lives despite being around the same age. Lena’s character, Hannah, is trying to work at the publishing house she’s interned at for way too long already when her parents announce they are cutting her off financially. While trying to prove her worth to said publishing company, she is instead let go. To make matters worse, the guy she’s sleeping with only seems to care about having sex with her when he’s bored. Rough.
Hannah’s friend Marnie (Allison Williams) has limited sympathy for her. She just wants Hannah to be able to pay the rent. Marnie is high-strung and bored with her boyfriend, but she’s beautiful so she seems to have things a little easier than Hannah. (This is how it’s portrayed, not what I’m deciding, for the record.)
Jessa (Jemima Kirke) is a British transient and lacks any kind of commitment to much of anything, other than sex and smoking pot. Marnie doesn’t understand Hannah’s friendship with her. Jessa is staying with her cousin Shoshanna, played by Mad Men‘s Zosia Mamet. (Girls possibly robbed us of Zosia playing lesbian Joyce again on this season of Mad Men, but maybe she’ll still show up on the AMC drama.) Zosia plays a much different character on Girls, as Shoshanna is a fast-talking virgin with an active interest in her cousin’s exploits.
Jessa, Hannah and Shoshanna
The girls of Girls feel three-dimensional enough that you begin to care about them by episode 3, though you’ll mostly consider whether or not you’d actually want to know any of them. This alone makes the show feel more realistic than others that fancify the young, broke and fabulous lifestyle of living in New York City. Instead of conversations in shoe stores and hot spots, the women are in their apartments, the waiting room at an STD clinic or on park benches. Technology is a big part of their lives, but not to the point that watching them text or use a computer is uninteresting. In fact it’s their conversations that are the big draw, mostly in the way they speak to each other and about the topic at hand. Each of the women have as many unlikable qualities as they do likable. Each have their own motivations that aren’t dictated solely by men. However, I could still do with less of Hannah pining after Adam (Adam Driver), but maybe she’ll wise up after episode 4.
When I ran into Lena Dunham at SXSW, she told me there will be a lesbian character toward the end of Season 1 and definitely more of a lesbian storyline in Season 2, if there is one. Lena doesn’t live in a straight-girl-only fantasy, thankfully, so if Girls will truly be reflective of real live girls in their 20s, more ideas about sexuality will be on display or at least discussed. After all, they talk about everything else.
Girls premieres on HBO this Sunday, April 15 at 10:30 p.m.