Tomorrow night the 4th season of the acclaimed HBO series “Girls” premieres. Like I said in a previous post, it took me a while to get into the Lena Dunham penned show. Last season, I caught the last few episodes and it intrigued me enough to binge-watch all of the previous seasons. The motivation to watch the show was the need to support any show that has unconventional lead stars, meaning the fact that Dunham as Hannah is the rare leading star who isn’t the svelte and beautiful prototype for a show like this. (I had also just moved back from New York City and loved the East Coast scenery).
It only took a few weekends to catch up with the story of Hannah Horvath, the privileged self-centered aspiring writer who is trying to find her voice in the Big Apple along with her former college pals. “Girls” is really nothing more than our overly sensitive lead finding her way, which actually translates into Hannah maturing. She starts the series off as a true spoiled brat (and let’s not kid ourselves, she’s isn’t terribly different 4 years later), only about 2 years out of college and still depending on her parents money for everything from laptops to rent. Her parents cut her off at the very beginning of the series, forcing her to finally fend for herself. She goes from one weird job to the next before her journal entries peak interest by a few publishers, which is another strange emotional roller coaster ride for Hannah.
And of course there’s Adam (Adam Driver), the on again/off again type of relationship that TV shows thrive off of. He’s intense and strange, oddly sexy, abrasive yet motivational and supportive. And while Hannah does things like testing how far she can stick a Q Tip up her ear, or snort cocaine just to come up with a good story, Adam proves too crazy for even HER! Which is the cause of their relationship ups and downs, and at the end of last season it was definitely on the Down-cycle. Adam became really passionate about acting, and as his star rose on Broadway Hannah felt threatened. I think her biggest problem was seeing him be so passionate about something, while her writing career was being under-used as an ad-writer for GQ magazine.
Last season ended with Hannah getting an acceptance letter from a prestigious writing program at the University of Iowa, and though it was unclear if she was going to accept at the end of the show, it’s definitely been confirmed by the trailers for this season. Which presents another hurdle for the young couple.
Now even though the show is called “GIRLS”, plural, Hannah dominates so much of the show that her other girlfriends are basically after thoughts. Though their stories outside of Hannah are interesting, they are basically just broad generic arche-types. For example you have the two extremes of Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet) and Jessa (Jemima Kirke). Shoshanna is the too-obnoxious fast-talking but studious one who always has her head in a book and is very strict about her schedule and goals. Until she breaks up with her older boyfriend Ray (Alex Karposky) and decides to have fun in her final months at school. Which ended being a huge mistake because she failed her classes so bad she couldn’t graduate. Jess is pretty much the polar opposite, she’s the free-living go-with-the-flow, borderline junkie friend who shirks responsibility and maturity at any turn. While she started off as an interesting character, I was quickly over her especially after her failed marriage that she ruined because she was “bored”. She’s a really hateful, mean, lazy person, and the character I care about the least. She ended the season in a reflective mode, looking like she’s thinking about making a change for the better, but we’ve seen that before haven’t we.
Hannah’s closest friend is Marnie (Allison Williams), and I say that simply because she used to be her roommate before a big falling out. Marnie is a strange character because I am so intrigued by her every move, yet she’s so droll and blank of seemingly devoid of any type of emotional temperament. She’s essentially a passive agressive spoiled brat who feins anger or hurt when she’s really just manipulating her way into getting whatever she wants at the moment. She’s gone from being “passionate” about modern art, to being a cheesy hostess, to her current impulse of becoming an singer.
I’m not completely sure if the actress is just bland, or if the sort of aloof vibe of Marnie is a complex trait of the character – which is entirely believable. She really doesn’t give the viewer any reason to care about her, but oddly enough I do.
Yes, most of the characters on “GIRLS” are actually unsavory when you think about it. And they are all pretty horrible to each other in one way or another. If they aren’t giving each other HPV, they’re sleeping with their gay ex boyfriends or tricking them into driving hours to pick them up from rehab. These are a bunch of people that are just so selfish that we shouldn’t care about them, or we should be hoping for bad things to happen to them.
But thanks to Dunham and crews writing, the show is engaging and somewhat endearing. It’s really funny because the characters are so odd and get themselves into such awkward predicaments, it’s a treat to see them take their foot out of their mouths. Plus Dunham does a good job of putting the viewer in Hannah’s shoes, we sort of understand her strange logic about things and we see her perspective of the world. It’s not always a realistic perspective, but we understand her so well we get lost in her head in a way.
This season should be especially interesting, mainly because we’re taking Hannah out of her now natural element of New York and taking her to Iowa, where it looks like she might finally have to confront her self-centered-ness. Shoshanna is unleashed onto the real world and finding it’s not as easy as she imagined, Marnie has effectively stole another girls boyfriend and seems unhappy (gasp). Jessa and Adam look like they are getting closer, which is something I’m going to hate to watch. It just seems like these “GIRLS” are finally being forced to grow up and face reality, and that is going to be both interesting to watch … and to recap (since I’ll be doing weekly recaps of each episode starting Monday).