TV: Girls—A Season Two Retrospective.

girls

How did Girls go from this…

How did Girls go from one of the best shows on television, so perfectly rendering the lives of twenty-something women in its first season (if a little narrow minded on the racial diversity front) to the disjointed, experimental mess of season two, the finale of which aired last night?

Lena Dunham was obviously under a lot of pressure to perform to the standards she set last year and she buckled under it, mirroring Hannah’s signing on to write an ebook in a month and getting shafted with a mental illness for her efforts. While pretty well every episode of season one lent themselves both to plot and character development, it seemed like the ten episodes of this season each existed in a vacuum; separate from each other and only slightly showing us both new and familiar aspects of the characters.

For example, I know Jemima Kirke just had a baby, but where the hell was Jessa? Sure, we met her dysfunctional dad, which gave us a glimpse into her carefree and flakey motivations, but she was barely around for us to see just how the unraveling of her marriage to Thomas-John affected her.

And Shoshanna was one of the best things to come out of Girls, and still is, arguably, but I hate that her character has succumbed to the virgin-turned-whore trope in that she’s gotten a taste for sex and now she can’t help herself. I expected more from Dunham.

Marnie’s remained just as unlikeable, though less relatable, as she was in the first season while Hannah’s—and, by extension, Dunham?—personality fluctuates from episode to episode, perhaps to foreshadow her eventual OCD relapse.

girls hannah cuts her hair

… to this?

It seems as though Dunham used the early episodes of season two to respond to her detractors (no racial diversity? Hannah dates a black guy. Dunham’s obsessed with being naked? Get naked some more.), and force feed characters of colour (okay, one character of colour) and gratuitous nudity down our throats. I found the balance of “awkward sex”, the embracing of different types of naked bodies and everyday activities that didn’t involve these things in season one refreshing, but by season two it was just too much. Did Hannah really need to wear a mesh singlet with nothing underneath while on a cocaine bender for a whole episode? Did we really need to see Hannah drop trou to pee next to a train station in the middle of nowhere? While I think body diversity is great, and Dunham is largely responsible for the current discourse about it, I think she’s going the wrong way about advocating for it.

Having said that, though, the episode with perhaps the most sex and nudity—the mid-season “One Man’s Trash”, which drew the ire of Dunham’s, and the show’s, critics who thought Hannah wasn’t “pretty enough” to bag a rich, hot doctor—was actually my favourite. It was also the most removed from the essence of Girls, so much so that it was speculated that it could have been a dream sequence (yeah, ’cause someone like Hannah could never get someone like Joshua in real life).

The lackluster sophomore season of Girls has left me wondering what happened to a show that could have been “the voice of my generation… Or at least a voice… of a generation.”

Related: Girls—Pretty Girl Problems.

Girls Are Complex Creatures.

Girls Acknowledges Its Privilege.

Elsewhere: [Jezebel] Why We Need to Keep Talking About the White Girls on Girls.

[Jezebel] What Kind of Guy Does a Girl Who Looks Like Lena Dunham Deserve?

[Daily Life] Why Ugly Sex is Important.

3 thoughts on “TV: Girls—A Season Two Retrospective.

  1. Pingback: On the (Rest of the) Net. | The Early Bird Catches the Worm

  2. I also found it disjointed but interesting. my main issues with S2 was that the sudden descent into OCD was so very sudden and inexplicable and also that the reunions seemed pat at the end. but describing anyting regarding Lena as “not what I expected” is where you made your first mistake, I think the beauty of her work is that she is not ‘what we expect’ and in challenging your perceptions and making you ask questions – about her mesh top, for instance – is exactly the reason she does the things she does. To get dialogue happening about body image, and how we present ourselves. If a woman on Entourage was wearing a mesh top, it would have gone unnoticed. :) Also, I do resent the Shoshanna story line being described as a “madonna whore” archetype. She seemed not to be preserving her virginity in the first season for any ‘moral’ intent and in fact she wanted to get rid of it because she had no concept of what her own sexuality was. the fact that she then discovered it and started enjoying it and indeed, became impulsive as a result seemed perfectly rational to me. It would only be madonna/whore trope if she was actually conservative, before, not just shy and ignorant. And once we all get a taste for good sex – doesn’t it lead us around by the nose for a while till be really get a handle on it?

    While i was also confused by S2 I will still be watching everything Lena has had anything to do with. She’s the most intriguing and stimulating woman in TV today.
    cheers

  3. Pingback: TV: Catching Up on Women-Friendly TV. | The Scarlett Woman

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