Over five years ago now, Hannah Horvath let the self-absorbed statement “I think I may be the voice of my generation” fall from her twenty-something lips. Its naive and rather delusional idea were to set the tone of Hannah’s journey to the harsh realities of life as an adult.
With its opening episode Girls shattered everything we thought and expected the series to be. There’s no gloss to be found here and there is certainly no glamour. This was not Sex And The City 2.0.
Girls has come to deal with everything we think about ourselves; our disillusions, our illusions of our own self and the numbing disappointment that the reality of life can send our way. In so many ways it was absolutely everything Sex And The City was not: realistic, honest, unpolished. Whilst one sought to add a slick layer of Dior-clad gloss to the trials and tribulations of the everyday life, Girls chose to give it to you straight. But without one, the other certainly couldn’t have existed. Hannah Horvath owes a lot to Carrie Bradshaw.
Before its launch the comparisons were heavy and, for the most part, entirely unjustified. Just one episode of Girls was enough to show you Hannah was no Carrie. Yes, she was a struggling writer looking to find her place in the world, surrounded by a group of girlfriends dealing with their own roster of tribulations, but it was here the similarities ended. No moments were wind-machine perfect, no outfits were deliciously styled by Patricia Field from the coolest thrift stores, and there was no Mr Big to save the day.
Our only insight in the ‘perfection’ of life we find our TV screens so regularly plastered in, the character Marnie, had a rather spectacular fall from grace throughout the course of the show’s five seasons. Shifting from mildly spoilt and privileged to penniless and delusional about her own character. ‘I’m not a bad person’ she claims to the man she’s only in a relationship with to satisfy her need to be adored. I beg to differ Marnie. You’re the darker sides of our tendencies for self-indulgence.
We all have flaws in our nature, kinks in our armour. The masterpiece of Lena Dunham’s show is that they are laid out for all to see, they are accepted and they are much as they are in real life – a simple fact of our existence with one another. Those people with whom we chose to fill our lives with will make mistakes, they will falter. But they are our people all the same and we deal with it, we help each other combat the bumps in the road.
The life of a twenty-something in today’s world is troublesome to say the least. Society’s make-up has evolved from the expected route our lives take into something rather unpredictable. We spend years studying and preparing for the life we think we’ll have… only to graduate and find out that nothing goes the way people would have things simplified to be. You will more than likely live in some variation of a shit hole at some point, you will date wholly questionable individuals and your dream career will not fall into your lap. It’s realism in its most brutal form. This is where Girls is at its best, displaying in an incredibly humorous fashion, that it happens to the best of us. There’s a reassurance in the collective uncertainty of the people we tune into each week.
Despite the show’s name, men don’t find themselves at the sideline, sporadically appearing as bit parts. There may not be many of them but they are just as complex as our protagonists.
Adam Driver’s Adam is a masterpiece of characterisation, evolving from someone who once made me wholeheartedly uncomfortable to someone who was to one of the show’s most intriguing parts. Shoshanna meanwhile is often given a rough deal, regularly reduced to a bit part in later episodes. Unexplored possibly, but the most richly developed character who’s endearing nature lies in the fact we all know that ultimately, we probably all have a lot of Shosh within us. Her inability to stop talking in awkward situations, down to the narrowing of her eyes when she’s irritated, she’s me. She’s us. We identify.
The resonance of Girls extends far beyond the vocalisation of the reality of life, it offered up discussion on the politics of displaying our bodies and our comfort within our own skin. The acceptance of our own appearance and therefore our acceptance of our self, all features. It prompted discussions on sex, the role of women within our culture and the attitude so often settled upon them. Hannah Horvath is not your standard leading lady, but then since when did our leading ladies represent reality? Celebration should be had in the fact we finally received a heroine who represented the reality of life.
As the series comes to an end I find myself perplexed. Did it end too soon? Was there life in this motley collection of people yet? Who knows. But if you haven’t gotten to know the girls of Girls yet, now is the time.