Girls, Girls, Girls: Why We’ll Be Watching … Or Not

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This is probably a sign that I am a little older than the target audience for HBO’s new series: I get that horribly sexist, totally fun Motley Crue song stuck in my head every time I hear Girls mentioned. It can almost drown out the deafening applause I hear from all the people who got advance screeners of the show. The consensus seems to be that it’s great, mostly because of the honest, gritty way it depicts the experience of young Millenial women trying to make it in the big, bad, Recession-ravaged city. I’m not so old that my memories of being 25 in New York are faded. But they are far enough behind me that I do get just a tiny bit nostalgic as I read 50 Shades of Grey — nostalgic for the naivete of Anastasia (OK, I think most of us were like that when we were 17, not 21), her apartment with her best friend, her excitement for a low-paying publishing job, and, oh, yeah, her f—ed up relationship with a millionaire that’s totally OK because it’s not like she’s looking to get married or anything.

Yeah, that’s the kind of view of one’s 20s that only comes with distance. So, I’m contemplating whether to sign up for HBO again (and who are these 20-somethings who can afford premium channels, anyway?), something I usually only do when there are new episodes of True Blood, just for Girls. Maybe I need to be reminded why everyone told me my 30s would be better. Anyway, I gathered some quotes from critics to help me decide; maybe they’ll help you too.

Why We Should Watch:
It’s sticking it to the man: “Even before the Republican candidates adopted The Handmaid’s Tale as a platform, Dunham’s sly, brazen, graphic comedy, with its stress on female friendships, its pleasure in the sick punch line, its compassion for the necessity of making mistakes, felt like a retort to a culture that pathologizes feminine adventure.” — New York

It’s real, unlike the admittedly flawed Sex and the City: “Where that series had a high sheen to it and was all about finding men and shoes and happiness (about in that order), and the four variations on a feminine theme came together all-too-neatly for lunch and chat sessions, Girls is a much more lo-fi, rooted-in-realism affair, and it mines the honesty of its characters in such a way that it produces both robust comedy and genuine, emotionally dramatic moments.” — The Hollywood Reporter

“Lena Dunham’s much anticipated comedy about four single women in New York, which starts on Sunday night, is worth all the fuss, even though it invites comparisons to Carrie Bradshaw and friends, and even though it incites a lot of dreary debate about the demise of feminism. … “Sex and the City” served up romantic failure wrapped in the trappings of success. “Girls” offers romantic failure wrapped in the trappings of failure.” — The New York Times

It’s funny, and boys will want to watch it with us: “So the real reason to watch Girls — with your girl, say, or at least on-demand sometime — is because Girls is very funny. And this kind of funny doesn’t have all that much of a gender bias anymore.” — Esquire

It’s just good: “Girls is the sort of authentic original you dream of discovering, and once you do, you can’t wait for everyone else to discover it.” — TV Guide

Why We Shouldn’t Watch:
It’s bland and cliched: “And with this, the creative team behind Girls throws everything at the wall (passionless sex, STIs, casual abortions, boring boyfriends, gay boyfriends, drugs, money woes, body image), in an effort to see what sticks. But due to tired tropes and failed attempts at dry humor, nothing does.” — Mother Jones

There’s too much navel-gazing: “There is a cool cleverness to the show that is both attractive and off-putting; the characters are flawed and hyper-aware of their flaws, the stories so bent on covering every angle of self-examination that there is no real role for the viewer to play.” — The L.A.Times

It’s actually anti-sex: “Is this ‘realism’ or an old-fashioned moralism very sleekly packaged for a new age? This seems a bit like the kind of ‘realism’ that leads flirts like Henry James’ Daisy Miller or Max Beerbohm’s Zuleika Dobson to meet bad ends for their reckless and loose ways. And I find it a little far-fetched that sometime, somewhere, there is not a 24-year-old girl who goes home with someone after a party and has just kind of boringly, ordinarily fun sex, that that too isn’t ‘real.’ ” — Slate

We actually don’t want to relive our 20s so realistically: “I can’t dispute the fact that the well-acted and naturalistic Girls, which is produced by Dunham, Judd Apatow and Jenni Konner, presents an original point of view and deftly captures life between adolescence and adulthood. It’s just that I’ve survived those years and I don’t wish to return.” — Red Eye Chicago

So, are you tuning in? Come back here on Monday and tell me what you’ve decided!

[Photo: HBO]