Dunham's Jugs A-Flashin' Ain't Gonna Save Girls

The HBO series Girls misfires again in this week's episode that has viewers pulling their hair out wishing the characters would just stop their whining, grow a spine and grow up. In the wake of the recent backlash, it's curtains for the series for this viewer (and many others) as the backlash grows.


{Note: I admire all who create. Creating is not easy. Still, when you put something you create into the world you open yourself up to criticism. Girls has been getting a fair share of it as of late, some of it deserved. The following is my opinion, take it for what it's worth. I believe that Lena Dunham can do better.}

The problem with the HBO series Girls (by creator & star Lena Dunham) isn't so much the backlash and controversy against the show, although that was on an epic scale. (In case you missed it, one of the show's writers tweeted insensitive comments that were deemed "racist" which lead to a critique that for a show set in Brooklyn, a very diverse borough, it lacked diversity.) The problem in addition to that is — the show isn't as funny as it thinks it is. The characters are so pathetic while being so arrogant at the same time that it's hard not to feel they deserve every horrible thing that happens to them. In short: They act like idiots.

And not the endearing kind.

"Hannah's Diary" doesn't show them changing anytime soon. They're still clueless girls who want us to revel in their cluelessness. They are the kind of moronic idiot that is hired as a nanny, goes to the park to talk down their nose at actual (multi-cultural) nannies, and then loses your kids. Then said nanny goes home to flirt with your husband who tells said nanny that losing children in public "happens to all of us."

God bless and god help us all but um, cough, no — it does not.

The moment at the end of the show made me pretty much decide to put Girls on my own personal permanent hiatus. A show this self-consciously awkward cannot expect us to believe this phoned-in attempt at a "heartfelt" moment. Plus it totally misfired. Jessa is a totally unlikable character. It's not that we don't have sympathy for her — we just simply pretty much despise her. Like most in the show, she's self-involved to the point of needing an intervention. Hello, Jessa, reality's calling: It wants to bite you (in a last-ditch effort to make you grow up).

Is this the new thing in the low-rent hipster world? You're a self-destructive moron who doesn't give a f*** and we're supposed to revel in this? Whoever's selling that can keep it. I ain't buying.

This show is "adorkable" and "awkwardable" but it is just not cute. Not cute at all. In fact, it's the anti-cute. It also is not really all that funny. Not nearly as funny as it wants to be.

I want to like it. I want to like Hannah, I really do. I want it to be "quirky," and witty, and smart and even off-kilter and bizarro. But at the end of the day — I just don't. I cannot escape the feeling of wanting to swear at the television screen and hurl my hipster T-shirt at my flat panel TV. But then I'd be watching the show either a) topless or b) in my cami. Oh wait — Hannah already did that in this episode.

Why? Is it because HBO loves nudity and sex? Is it because, well, what with Hung and Game of Thrones, HBO wants to be a porn channel? Probably not. In the case of those other shows, their sexual encounters, while graphic, are always in context. Those sexual scenes are actually required for the series' storylines. In Girls? Not so much. Maybe they're required for (methinks) Lena Dunham's massive narcissistic ego.

There, I said it.

When she took her top off, to take the topless photo of herself, the camera could've cut from the shoulders up. The only conclusion to draw is that she wants the world to get a gander at her headlights. Okay, noted. You got two boobies, so do most girls. Can we move on now?

The episode was downhill from there. I tried to get into it. I tried not to get annoyed at the hipsterism gone awry. There are different kinds of hipsters but this show represents the worst kind: Entitled and lazy East Coast hipsters who actually come across like they're stupid. They make mistakes and bad decisions and it's not okay. Why? Because they should know better.

Girls would play better as a tragedy than a comedy. Nearly ever single character is a complete f***-up and totally lost. It's as if the lost generation became very self-conscious and decided to just give up.

Hannah appears to have completely given up. Her quasi-"friends" either wear a coat of such forced cynicism it's plastered on like lipstick on a 3-year-old — desperate to appear cool but really not grown up yet; or they come across like forlorn little girls: Aimless, confused buoys — floating on the sea of life — desperate to cling to any man hoping he will rescue them.

Why — oh why — can't there be one character in the show who gives a rat's ass about her career? Is career a dirty word to these Girls? Is trying uncool? How about just a passion about anything? Like, even, a hobby? Is learning freaking Windows and Word macros that difficult?

Yes, yes and no.

The "awkward" moments abound: An overly-eager character's overly-eager date goes down on her, much to her chagrin. We get it. It's the flagship "awkward" moment. Then there's the kind of funny text with the requisite "OMG!" that follows (only in this case, it's characters repeating "Oh my god!" over and over until you want to hurl your vinyl record collection at your flat panel TV). Turns out, Hannah's non-bf BF accidentally texted her a photo of his penis dressed up as a squirrel in a fur that someone said looked liked their grandmother's fur coat. Kind of funny. Then Hannah's flashing the camera her set, which was "awkward." And Hannah's whole office dysfunction.


I didn't want to go here but I'm going: For all the controversy surrounding Girls, no one's really taken on the feminist angle. Trust me, I don't even really mean feminist (other than in the broadest sense of the word). I mean like just a normal, upright, breathing, responsible, female women.

I'm starting to dislike this show so much — I'm starting to really dislike Judd Apatow. This is saying a lot since I considered myself a huge Apatow fan. Maybe Apatow does represent, on a big scale, like never taking responsibility. Many characters in Apatow movies have that in common. Many of these girls are learning to deal with responsibility, they're not fully grown-up yet but hello, they are 24 not 14. Or rather — they are 24 going on 14.

So back to the office. Hannah's boss decides that he's going to give her a "massage" and feels her up (er, down) instead (hand down shirt). No, that's not cool. While most women can understand inappropriate stuff at the office, or borderline stuff, or off-the-cuff jokes (especially if you've ever sat in the writers' room on a comedy show, I have) — you roll with it. What you don't really ever roll with is some old dude, as in ancient — sticking his hand down your shirt.

Unless you're just like really kind of messed up. By that I mean: A total f*** up.

When he's your boss and you don't like it? It just isn't cool.

Since I'm complaining, the other thing that wasn't cool was the stereotypical portrayal of minorities in the office. They spoke with strong accents. They drew absurd eyebrows on Hannah's face (which her BF later said she looked "Mexican:" Is this supposed to be a Frida Kahlo joke or what?). They also told her to accept the Old Mister-Cop-a-Feel and deal with it because they got financial perks and kickbacks from the old perv.

Girlfriend, say whaaaa!?

I don't know about you, but most tough city girls (of any race) that I know — would not put up with this crap. The episode ends with her roommate's boyfriend writing a partial song after reading Hannah's diary. I felt like I was watching an Afterschool Special, we're back in the 24 going on 14 territory again.

If the show had something to say — or was extremely funny — these types of egregious and offensive elements could be overlooked. As it is, it is just so annoying that it makes me want to shout at the television screen.

A lesson to be learned here is that pathetic girls aren't funny because these Girls have lost themselves — lost their power. They have no self-esteem. They don't even aspire to self-esteem. That goes from awkward to just — yuck.

Women make mistakes, we all make mistakes. Being "empowered" as a woman does not mean you don't make mistakes. What it does mean is — you don't play the victim.

You really don't play the victim when you have a choice.

A show isn't a political statement, but what is this show saying?

  • Don't take responsibility for your life.
  • Be a total headcase, first-rate f*** up masquerading as "adorkable."
  • Let an old perv stick his hand down your shirt and smack you on the butt.
  • Let your non-BF BF degrade you (we are talking serious degradation here) and go back and beg for more.
  • Be a victim in your life and then think it's funny.

I want to be on the "Oh I'm so hip" bandwagon and give a big ole Facebook "thumbs up" "Like" to this show but I just can't do it.

Not until Hannah discovers her spine and starts taking life a little more seriously.

In the meantime, I wish her the best on her journey. May she find a good eyebrow stylist (may I recommend threading) and learn to keep her shirt on and that she does not have to work for a perv. I thought the personification of a New York woman was that she was a tough, ballsy, no-bs type of woman. Hannah has the personality of moldy socks and can't seem to find her spine or any cojones. Maybe the Midwestern girls have it right — all that cold and snow makes you tough and independent. Or the California girls who work smart (not hard) and are independent and savvy. Failing that — maybe Hannah just needs to move out of New York.

Maybe I just don't get it. If glorifying absolutely aimless incompetence and powerlessness for women is the new cool — you can count me out.

Photo courtesy of HBO


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Comments on "HBO Girls : Hipsterism gone awry"

Sara March 04, 2014 | 4:41 PM

Agree COMPLETELY with this article, especially after just finishing season 2 and finally deciding whether or not I liked this show: I didn't and I'm done watching. I said something similar to myself while deciding I was done with it, it's like this show was written by a misogynist. The "point" a lot of you are saying is to see the ugliness we girls refuse to see in ourselves. I'll admit that there are some qualities in the girls I'm ashamed to admit I posses, but truly do you guys really know some girls who have ALL of these ------ qualities? And more importantly, if you do, don't you wish you didn't?

Jay July 30, 2013 | 3:30 PM

I have come late to this show, and am just now catching up. Personally, my response to it (thus far) has been equal parts "this is funny" and "this is irritating". I find many of the characters and situations quite humorous, and Judd Apatow's influence is obvious in some episodes. However, I also find few of the characters to be consistently sympathetic. Watching irresponsible people make bad decisions is entertaining, but only to a point. But that being said, I enjoy it enough to keep watching (for the time being). One other comment: While it's nice to see a "regular-looking" woman in a starring television role, I can't help but notice that pretty much all of the other female characters in the show fit the "young, attractive, stylishly-attired" mold to a tee. And for a bunch of penniless hipsters, how do they afford all of that designer-boutique clothing? At least on in the City, there was (sort of) the explanation that each of the women had successful, profitable careers.

Molly July 29, 2013 | 4:19 PM

As a twenty somthin' 'Girl', I am offended that this is the way the creator of this show has chosen to represent young women today. I totally agree with this review. The characters are moronic, idiotic, and most of the time offensive. I get that some people may like the somewhat witty banter and one-liners that occur between the characters, but when watching these shows that spout they are going to portray the 'real twenty something woman', we need to be super critical. How do we want ourselves portrayed? I myself would never, ever want to be characterized as a Jessa, Hannah, or Marnie. The only somewhat likable character is Shoshanna, but she too is is portrayed as this babbling immature and naive idiot. These are college educated women and yet they are stupid in their professional AND personal lives. That is not how I want to be seen. Love this review.

Sarah June 06, 2013 | 8:56 PM

This article is FANTASTIC!!!! I am a 25 year old girl and this show is completely stupid and pointless. I tried to get into the show, but I never could. I watched every episode wanting to laugh hysterically, but really i just wanted to write to HBO and tell them that this is the worse show they have ever produced. I wish I could say I don't like it because I am jealous, but it is just a really poorly scripted show. I have aspirations to write and I am not super funny, but I do think my life and my friend's lives are more relatable and funnier than the crap Lena Dunham and her friends have done. It is a great concept, but it needs a new cast and new writers and then it could be AMAZING!!!!

Della May 16, 2013 | 2:48 PM

The person who wrote this has no sense of humour. They probably find sit-com/rom-coms starring Kate Hudson hilarious. Anyway, she's missed the point, like others have said. You are not supposed to like the characters. You're supposed to see in them the parts of yourself or your friends that are not pretty, and that you don't like. People like the characters on Girls do exist, and you can't blame them for becoming products of a society which demands narcissism, self-interest and vanity. And to refer to the joke as racist, seems, again, humourless. Like the kind of person that goes to a stand-up show and spends the whole time being offended. If you want to talk about meaningful depictions of racism in the media, discuss the fact that 'Django' and 'Beasts of the Southern Wild' were nominated in the same Oscars' category; now THAT is ironic racism. Calling Lena Dunham a narcissist for baring her breasts on TV, while arguing that the skinny, un-dimpled bodies seen naked on other HBO shows are justified through plot... really? I mean, really? When someone who is not typically beautiful or slim disrobes in film/tv, the idea is that they should be embarrassed or ashamed? I think the author has some self conscious tendencies of their own. I don't know if the author has never been in a relationship with someone who treats them poorly, or has never known someone in their early 20's that has no idea what the ---- is going on around them, but I hope they do have these experiences eventually. Maybe then they can enjoy some honest television.

Katie Carroll March 06, 2013 | 6:47 AM

Yeah, this chick missed the point. Whoever wrote this, you're overanalyzing this show and ruining it for yourself. If you had stated your opinions against the -actual- point of the show, then I'd have less to say against your article. But you're taking it way too seriously. Like it or not, 'Girls' is hilariously relatable to many women, it's meant to be light-hearted and most importantly it's HONEST. It almost seems like you wrote this just to stand out, to disagree because the majority loves this show. Your argument just sounds like you went digging for anything you could think of to complain about. Try smoking a joint and having a beer before you watch another episode and maybe lighten up a bit

Robb February 24, 2013 | 5:04 AM

Whoever wrote this completely missed the entire point of the show. I felt really embarrassed and annoyed reading this.

LightNinja February 14, 2013 | 11:34 PM

Well, it's obvious that @Lorraine is one of the writers for this painfully unfunny, awkward "Comedy"

Lorraine February 14, 2013 | 3:03 PM

@Beatle Deuce Obviously, you have never been to New York. It's a city with several boroughs and therefore various facets--not everything and everyone is going to look shiny and new and glamourous. Also, I am astonished that you would think it appalling that the characters are far removed from Hollywood stereotypes! If anything, this level of realism that the show portrays is (quite ironically) refreshing! Finally, something we can relate to! If you can't relate, then you may darn well be sweating glitter!

Anon February 11, 2013 | 8:50 AM

It's basically porn. I felt ill after watching. And dumber too.

Beatle Deuce February 10, 2013 | 1:03 AM

I never for 1 second thought about the show being ALL white, cuz guess what, EVERY show damn near is ALL white! I accepted that years and years ago. What I dont like about the show is how dirty it makes me feel. I mean physically, i wanna take a shower when it's over! Most of the characters (especially Lena) all look so greasy and dirty! The dirty apartments, the dirty , the dirty people, dirty streets. Is this the "Real" New York??? If so, it's no longer on my list of Citys to visit. As a drama, i get it, but it has Never made me laugh.

Venus January 15, 2013 | 6:42 PM

There are rare moments when I think it hits the humor it was going for but other than then, it's bad. I really don't care about the - my bigger concern is the show is boring and not funny. You get annoyed at the scenes instead of laughing while thinking this could be funny if the characters weren't pathetic or someone could direct that understands comedic timing. I don't know what people like? A lot of criticism is that the show is unrelatable. What people miss is us haters think it's unrelatable not because it is about privileged white girls in the city, it's unrelatable because their actions and choices are plain stupid and are never offset with substance.

leelee January 14, 2013 | 4:16 PM

I am a 40 year old woman, and my friends and I love this show. I think it's hysterical and have thought "wow I had that exact same conversation with my friends before" I think the eyebrows episode was classic and the way she reacted to him when he made the eyebrows comment was genius... (you should Stop being so miserable.) In real life- I hate to say the majority of people do not have diverse circles of friends. I personally do- black white hispanic israeli and ..BUT we are not offended buy the fact that this small circle of girls are all white... even being 40yrs old I think it's funny. I actually got a penis text and then a message saying that was not for you- that happened to me about 5 years ago- so when it happened on the show I thought it was hysterical. its a comedy- if it's not your type of humor-don't want- but how dare you be-little someone's efforts creativity and talent. what tv show did you write and get a golden globe for?

ZZZ January 13, 2013 | 10:13 PM

When has a show ever failed by glorifying people who are like the great majority of people? Never? Yeah, people like Girls because it's an excuse for their own crappy behavior.

beachy21 January 13, 2013 | 10:49 AM

Haha, well the show was never supposed to be a beacon of good behavior. Showing really flawed people without airbrushing, sugar coating, and fairy tale bs (like and the City) IS the point. This show made me cringe because it was f*cked up at times, but I don't think that's a bad thing. Dunham is a pioneer with this sort of thing- not perfect people in all their glory shown on TV. Kudos to her and her self-confidence.

Ridi January 02, 2013 | 5:36 PM

Gosh after reading this cr*ppy expressed opinion of yours I just want to be rude-.- In which world do you live? Take a look out of the window and then back to your tv screen, girls is one of the very few series one can really identify with. Character's behavior is of course exaggerated at some points! Which characters aren't ?! People in their twenties really feel like that today I can claim that from my own experience as 20 year old.

That's right December 28, 2012 | 1:46 AM

Show sucks ------- ---. Those who like it are delusional.

Fifi October 19, 2012 | 7:49 AM

I'm with you. I find the characters on this show offensive, pathetic and unlikeable. worsens every week. I am a 20 something girl living in a big city and they sure as hell don't represent me. Your level of vitriol is fair too - this is what has happened to feminism? All the commenter s telling you to calm down and that it's just entertainment are missing the bigger picture, shows like this are part of an ever present social message that glorifies narcissism, selfishness, entitlement and keeps women in down the totem pole as shallow clueless victims in their relations with men. She offers to f*** her ual assaulter!! Just because a 26 year old woman writes and acts in a hit show does not make her voice of a generation and whatever else she is being lauded as. Bravah on a great article.

Chrisine Avila July 19, 2012 | 1:23 AM

Wow. Calm down. You are exaggerating. I love this show, I love the charcters, and I love the story. Maybe you are just too old.

Steph July 11, 2012 | 10:35 AM

I read about half way through this crit and ummm how did you even make it to Hannah's diary? Girls isn't for everybody. All your complaints....I think you missed the point of the show and it's gone right over your head.

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