Writer, producer and leading actor Lena Dunham beautifully portrays the lifestyle of struggling 20-something girls who are finding themselves.
Their narcissistic and naïve personalities accompanied by the awkward, uncomfortable and truly realistic scenarios make this one of the most hilariously relatable shows ever made.
The storyline follows the lives of four friends as they try to find themselves in their 20s in New York City– Hannah Horvath (played by Lena Dunham), Marnie (Allison Williams), Jessa (Jemima Kirke) and Shoshanna Shapiro (Zosia Mamet).
What I find so darn addictive about this show is how it portrays that ‘awkward phase’ – as a friend of mine likes to call it – where women are lost and struggling while they attempt to find a direction in life post-university. Girls goes there; learning about sex, addictions, loneliness, heart break and rejection from jobs.
It is very refreshing to see a leading cast of women painfully struggle to make it in the world, which so accurately reflects the lives of my generation. We see Marnie lose her job, Hannah work as an unpaid intern for over a year, Jessa rarely working and Shoshanna fail part of her university course.
There is a constant underlying theme of mental health throughout the series. One episode which really captured my attention was Season 2, Episode 5 ‘One Man’s Trash’. This episode exposed Hannah’s raw loneliness and pain. Hannah meets a man in his 40s; a doctor who is going through a divorce, his character excellently juxtaposing Hannah’s immature naivety. She is like an orphan taken in off the street; having sex with this “grown up” and seeing what it’s like to be a grounded adult. This is before she has a mini breakdown; needing Joshua to reassure her that she is beautiful and declaring that she ‘just wants to be happy’ and that all her experiences and feelings are wearing her down. This scares off Joshua and after he leaves for work in the morning, Hannah does too, taking out his trash and walking down the street. I think this episode was extremely powerful in depicting the pain that Hannah is experiencing and the act of Hannah taking out Joshua’s trash metaphorically represents her personal baggage that she has thrown out.
The other character’s struggle with their personal baggage as well. Jessa often travels, running away from her problems when life is getting hard for her. After she separates from her husband she goes to Hannah’s house who is singing in the bath. Jessa tells her not to move, takes off her clothes and climbs into the bath with her and cries, which is an incredibly raw scene. Jessa also battles an addiction. After Shoshanna breaks up with Ray she goes on a downward spiral; becoming promiscuous and takes up smoking. Throughout the entire series Marnie – who has an absent father – needs the approval from men for any feeling of self-worth. She also seeks alliance with character Roy who points out that neither of them have anyone else to each lunch with, also wonderfully portraying loneliness.
Hannah Horvath (played by Lena Dunham) says in the first season, “I believe that I am the voice of my generation. Or at least a voice, in a generation”, and I believe this statement could not be more fitting to the show’s creator Lena Dunham.
I struggled to put down Not That Kind of Girl; a hilarious, forthright autobiographical account of her experiences thus far. I am becoming slightly addicted to watching interviews with her on YouTube and watched the movie Tiny Furniture. I am so inspired by her incredibly intelligent, witty and feminist demeanour and her incredibly successful career at such a young age.
Lena Dunham carries that quirky, humorous way that women in their 20s are so painfully struggling through everything of hers that I have consumed so far. And that, in my humble opinion, is what makes her so brilliantly unique.
Girls, with all its wonderfully layers, complexities, realistic and relatable scenes and cringe-worthy humour, is one of the best shows of our time.