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.
… 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.