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HBO’S “Girls”: The Decline of the Female Twentysomething?

HBO’s popular show “Girls” is already in its sophomore season and has just been picked up for a third. For those of you not familiar with the show, “Girls” chronicles the lives of four white, female, twentysomethings trying to make a living in New York City. The show was created by writer and producer Lena Dunham, who also stars in the show, and has been quoted as saying “Girls” is loosely based on her post collegiate life experiences.

“Girls” has come out to mixed reviews by media critics, with many arguing that “Girls” is in the same comedy-drama vein as “Sex in the City”. However, where “Sex in the City” did have a similar plot- four career women taking on life in New York City, shopping, brunching , lunching, drinking cosmos and talking about their sexual exploits- “Girls” is different. “Girls” is real. There is no glamour. There is no such thing as brunch in Lena Dunham’s New York. What you see is what you get.

For example, in the pilot episode, Dunham’s character, Hannah Horvath –an English major that does very little

Photo: David Shankbone/Flickr CC

“Girls” creator & lead actress, Lena Dunham
Photo: David Shankbone/Flickr CC

writing- quips she “can last in New York three more days, seven if she doesn’t eat”. Later in the episode, she asks her parents to support her due to lack of job opportunities but to her dismay they cut her off. With little happening on the job market, gone are the days of Mary Tyler Moore and her famous “independent- woman- no glass ceiling -hat-throwing scene” during the opening credits of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” in the 1970’s (for those of you have no idea what I’m talking about, do yourself a favor and watch more TV Land).

The job outlook for people in their twenties is bleak. The three remaining characters of “Girls” also find themselves in the same boat either with little to nonexistent employment or a job they don’t like. Each character seems to be floating around, unsure of what they want out of life. Females in the eighteen to twentysomething bracket find this show so relatable because they’ve found themselves in similar situations as the characters.

Today’s twentysomethings were released into the post collegiate world in a time of bad economy, no jobs or being overqualified for jobs. There often seems to be a sense of pride and unwillingness amongst many post grads to work a job they are overqualified for. This mindset is illustrated when Hannah gets let go from her internship after asking for a raise and begrudgingly accepts a job at a local coffee shop in order to pay her half of rent. This sense of entitlement to hold the job you want or no job at all would not have gone over well during previous generations.

“Girls” also does a good job of illustrating the seemingly longer transition from young adult to actual adulthood that this generation is experiencing. It is understood that your twenties is a time to figure out what you want out of life and how to make it yours, but what happen if this seems to be taking too long?

The show raises questions that force viewers to consider the lives of twentysomethings today. Questions like such as have twentysomethings started to get too comfortable in their search for self-discovery? Or are the characters’ lack of motivations due to the economy or what some would call this generation’s, formerly known as Gen Y and sometimes affectionately called “Generation Why Bother”, growing sense of entitlement?

While the characters are not always necessarily likable,  “Girls” can be at times entirely too accurate. We either know girls like this or are these girls. Personally, I have disliked each of the characters at one point or another, but upon further self-reflection found some of these grating character traits to be reminiscent of my own past behavior. From the silly things like the character of Shoshanna comparing herself to the characters on Sex in the City-“I think I’m definitely a Carrie at heart but like sometimes, Samantha kind of comes out” to more serious issues, like knowing when and how to take responsibility for my mistakes and being the instigator of so called “on-again off-again” relationships. So while not all of these moments are flattering, Dunham works in quite a bit of self-loathing into the story line. She is able to poke fun at herself, the remaining characters and the irony of the situations she is trying to illustrate.

Love her or hate her, Lena Dunham is able to capture this generation’s female twentysomething well- awkwardly confident, trying to make something of ourselves, and almost getting it together. Sorta. But like the character of Hannah Horvath, us soon to be twentysomethings and beyond are scrappy, so don’t count us out just yet.

Posted by on February 15, 2013. Filed under Around Campus,Entertainment. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

One Response to HBO’S “Girls”: The Decline of the Female Twentysomething?

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