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Girls: A review

New Hollywoonderkind, Lena Dumham is behind the HBO series, Girls: a look at four 20-something women in New York trying to make sense of their lives and relationships.

Dunham plays Hannah, an aspiring writer who is forced to quit her internship when her parents cut off her allowance. She’s in a relationship with a guy who asks for some very particular things in the bedroom but will never go out with her in public.

Her friends are: Marnie, a gallerina who is over loved but unsatisfied by her boyfriend; Jessa, a precocious and affected free spirit who has just returned from London; and Shoshanna, reserved and younger, she looks up to Jessa and wants to be as outgoing but doesn’t know how.

The comparisons to Sex and the City are obvious: to the point where Shoshanna had a poster of the HBO series on her bedroom wall.

But the portraits of the young women in Girls is so much more real than anything we ever saw in Sex in the City. There’s subtext here: a feeling of so much more beneath the surface but not knowing how to come out.

And there’s also a big understanding of the awkwardness of sexual compatibility that we haven’t seen before.

There’s a lot of honesty in Girls. It’s a world that I would probably be a stranger to, but it is so recognisable from the friends I had in my 20s. It contains the emotional excitement and shame that is part-and-parcel with being a 20-something. I’ve never seen that portrayed so accurately on television before.

Also contained within the honesty of the show is an explicitness in the depiction of sexuality. It would be pornographic but for the ordinariness of it.

Girls, in a nutshell, is this constant masturbation with other people watching: a sense that the characters need to explore more about themselves but they are also confined by what society is expecting. Everything is an exploration and handled with a humour and drama more mature than most stories that get to the screen.

A version of this review of Girls appeared in Episode 306 of Boxcutters.