Lena Dunham has been praised for her sophisticated voice as the writer, creator, director, and actress in the new HBO show Girls. There has always been a fad among artists of all kinds to name that which is awkward, offbeat, or simply different as sophisticated or honest. Adorkable women (and girls) are currently trending and fabulous (see Zooey Deschanel), but what is missing from Dunham’s show is a lesson to learn. These girls fumble around the idea of who they think they are or who they want to be and make sexuality their means to pretending they have a hold on their future. They’re lost as hell and trying to fill the job, family, faith, love, self-confidence void. Most 20 something girls just out of college are dumped into this bleak job market and riddled with the anxiety of barely being able to support themselves. The more recent feminist ideal is of one who can support herself or an entire family for that matter. But these girls, this show, this kind of art is merely a reality TV show being lauded because it doesn’t sound as scripted as reality TV.
Dunham’s character is hooking up with a skeevy, can’t ever find a shirt, jerkface man who is apathetic and witless, but she confuses him as charming and cute. One of their encounters (all of which make you feel filthy, vomity and a bit rapey) involves him fetishizing her as a child and basically telling her to be quiet so he can do what he wants. This scene has specifically been acclaimed as humorous… While Dunham has been interviewed and seems to want to draw attention to the fact that our generation is so displaced from real human connection, I wonder if the best way to teach that lesson is to simply reiterate it on television.
Feminism and the search for one’s self is partially an understanding of one’s sexual self, but by no means is it a good example of the entirety of the self. Most people have a basis for how they come to understand their values, character, and convictions. Giving women these characters to relate to is something new and un-glamorized. But where Sex and the City was unrealistically sexy, kooky and fun, Girls is disparately and desperately sexual. Maybe this awkward sexual resurgence portrayed in Dunham’s hit show is an eye opener that will pave the way for women to feel okay about themselves and their experiences, but I can’t help feel that this show is a perpetuation of sloppy, misguided lust akin to that in Secret Life of the American Teenager or Jersey Shore, mindless humping in the hopes of finding yourself in the orgasm.