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HBO's 'Girls' not another 'Sex in the City'

By Bradley Hartsell
On April 23, 2012

HBO's new comedy, "Girls," is drawing attention from every angle right now. The blogosphere's leading critics are fawning over it (along with HBO's brand new "Veep," which premieres after my deadline but will have aired by the time you read this), but there's also a lot of backlash.

Backlash, of course, is probably the dumbest, most petulant thing about media, but it's unfortunately here to stay until the sun burns itself out.

"Girls" is about Hannah Horvath and her three friends, white girls in their 20s, trying to get by in New York in a shattered economy.

Because this is an HBO show with a girl cast in New York, "Sex and the City" comparisons abound. Creator Lena Dunham (also plays Hannah) slyly addresses that comparison in the pilot, sneaking in how much Shoshanna loves the show.

The two shows are stylistically different, so don't be scared off by the superficial overlaps.

Hannah's gang is awkward, misguided and entitled, but Dunham is so good at making the girls likeable through transparency.

These are cultured college-educated people from affluent backgrounds in the country's intellectual epicenter. Who wouldn't feel like the world owes them something? That's the joke, but unfortunately, many viewers are taking in all of the misanthropy and filtering out Dunham's intentions.

They think the show is bratty and arrogant and self-important - mostly stemming from Hannah's opium-induced rant to her parents that she thought she was "the voice of her generation. Or at least A voice of A generation." This is funny. This is a joke.

Dunham is clearly turning Hannah's high opinion of herself against her, but some critics take the statement at face value (unfortunately associating the performer with the creator, which is stupid because you're taught in high school to never connect the speaker of a poem with the poet itself).

Another charge against the show is good ole nepotism. All four of the main characters have "famous" parents. Dunham's mom is Laure Simmons, the artist, Allison Williams is NBC's Brian Williams' daughter, Zosia Mamet is playwright David Mamet's daughter, and Jemima Kirke is the daughter of Bad Company drummer Simon Kirke.

Forget that Bad Company peaked 30 years ago - that's kind of a cool fact that all these women can be linked to people with Wikipedia pages. That would be a problem if they all sucked and it was clear were riding mommy and daddy's coattails. But Dunham is good! They're all good. Nepotism doesn't make you a good performer. See, this is why backlash is poison.

"Girls" isn't laugh out loud hilarious like people keep claiming "Veep" to be, but it has consistently enjoyably humorous moments and a richness to the characters that's very engrossing.

Different shows all have different needs, but for "Girls," Hannah is watchable when she's lost and the more she wanders out without a foundation, the better this show will be.

 


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