A Girl on Girls

03/01/2015 8:07 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:24 AM IST
Jeff Kravitz via Getty Images
PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 09: (L-R) Writer/executive producer Jennifer Konner, writer/executive producer/actress Lena Dunham, actresses Jemima Kirke, Zosia Mamet and Allison Williams speak at the 'Girls' panel during the HBO Winter 2014 TCA Panel at The Langham Huntington Hotel and Spa on January 9, 2014 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)

I came off badly in a fight with one of my closest girl friends last year and that's when another friend (also a girl) recommended I watch this new TV show. "It's like Sex and the City, only it's pretty real," was her one liner pitch to me, and so I thought: what the hell.

The TV show is called Girls, and is written, produced, often directed and also performed by the immensely witty Lena Dunham. This is an HBO show, so be sure you know you're in for a bit of nudity and a lot of cussing. This is NSFF (Not Safe For Family) and it is NSFW. But if you are attempting to watch this at work, then this is probably the show for you.

Two years out of college, Hannah Horvath (played by Dunham) is an aspiring writer living in the Big Apple with Marnie, her best friend from college, when her parents announce to her their decision to stop supporting Hannah financially. At the same time, Jessa, a free-spirited, bohemian friend of theirs returns from a tour of new countries and newer boyfriends to live with her bubbly cousin Shoshanna, who is on the cusp of graduating from NYU. A band of boyfriends and exes and parents makes up the rest of the cast of this insane show that follows these girls as they navigate their tortuous twenties.

So what makes Girls any different from the usual fare of women-struggling-to-make-it-big-in-New-York shows?

Well, here's where it really scores.

10 points for seemingly accurate description of living in New York

Remember Monica's huge and very purple apartment in Friends where everyone just loved to hang out? Yeah. The women in girls live in tiny cubbyholes, and most often Hannah struggles to make rent, because she's always quitting a job that's just not good enough for her. In fact, the only time one of the girls makes it to a huge house is when she impulse-marries an idiot with too much money, and comes to suffer its consequences. Girls easily shirks of the glamour of living in New York and brings us a city where neighbors are recovering drug addicts, living rooms are dingy spaces filled with borrowed/handmade furniture, and money is hard to come by.

10 points for interesting take on relationships

Yes, Girls comes with the expected string of break-ups and hook-ups, but the greater focus here is on girls playing at being women--and so, they generally botch up every relationship. There is redemption, and romance and forgiveness, but there is also the bitter pill with it that reminds you that love and friendship may not necessarily conquer all.

10 points for not giving us a round up of the story

The one thing I came to love, and then hate of Sex and the City and Grey's Anatomy was how one woman's voice narrated the beginning and ending--always sort of tying up a neat little string on top of the pretty mess of things that had just been created. That doesn't happen here--which usually leaves you open-mouthed at the end of episodes thinking: wait, what just happened?

10 points for realistic bodies of women

So there are bared breasts on the show, but they're not always like perky compass needles, pointing to one true love. They hang and they sag, and are adequately normal. There are also stomachs and thighs that have real flesh in them, and are really pretty in authentic ways.

10 points for absolutely bang-on descriptions of Girls fighting

You know how a fight about a toothbrush is actually, not really, about the toothbrush and leads to two best friends and housemates parting ways?

10 points for depicting a young writer's warped headspace

The one character that Dunham really gets right in the writing and performance is Hannah. She is in equal parts troubled and delightful, self-obsessed, funny and stupid in her struggle to become this great writer. She quits a great job at GQ because she learns that no one who works there ends up really writing his or her novel. She struggles with writing her first e-book, only to end up in the hospital from a stress provoked neurosis.

There is a moment in the show where a friend discovers something scathing and personal that Hannah has written in her journal about her and Hannah's greatest concern in that moment is whether the writing was enjoyable. *Straight face*

10 points for freakishly true to life depiction of OCDs

I will withhold comment so you can witness this for yourself.

I will withhold comment so you can witness this for yourself.

I will withhold comment so you can witness this for yourself.

I will withhold comment so you can witness this for yourself.

I will withhold comment so you can witness this for yourself.

I will withhold comment so you can witness this for yourself.

I will withhold comment so you can witness this for yourself.

I will withhold comment so you can witness this for yourself.

10 points for not stereotyping characters

Except for Shoshanna, who probably, maybe, like, is the typical cusp-of-twenty-girl who thinks its like probably maybe cool to talk like that? The really heartwarming thing though is that a lot of great wisdom also ends up coming from Shoshanna, in like, the same long-strung, breathless sentences.

10 points for Adam Driver who plays Hannah's boyfriend... called Adam.

Adam is the character who does strange things. He is (variously) a woodworker, a playwright, and an actor. The kind of boy who calls you only when he wants to sleep with you, gets off by calling you a filthy whore in bed, fucks you in strange (sometimes pleasurable) ways, texts you pictures of his privates, and um, he pees on you in the shower. But the truly weird thing is that he's endearing in all his glory. Serious credit goes to the writers for raising Adam from certain-as-death douchebag to affable weird guy because somewhere in the middle, you really start to get why he's the guy to keep going back to even though you know he's bad for you.

Girls is about to kick off its fourth season on HBO this January, and so far, its take on the quarter-life crisis has been pretty damn good. Watch it for witty lines, great characters and quirky struggles.