After many female protagonists lives are played out in the concrete metropolis of New York, why is HBO’s Girls so compelling for young women today?

“Sometimes being stuck in my own head is so exhausting it makes me want to cry.”As Marnie Michaels expresses in an episode of Girls, life, even in extravagant cities, carries complexities.

New York City forms a recognisable backdrop to many idealistic lives; Buildings clad grey and glass and a glistening skyline, manifests a locale on which many sumptuous apartments, stylish bars and enchanting love scenes have enticed us into this seductively opulent city of TV idealism. 

It’s therefore inevitable that distinct clichés have arisen from the plentiful sightings. Now, such idealisms are breaking into a realistic beacon of Lena Dunham’s somewhat awkward, irresistibly bold show, and it’s enticing a new generation.

HBO’s Girls has received both backlash and admiration. In a realm of new TV reality, fashion, friendships and figuring it out, is played out in the most barefaced of means (and occasionally in complexion), giving todays generation of twentysomethings, a sense of justification to be honest with themselves.  “Please don’t tell anyone this, but I wanna be happy” says Hannah mid-season two.

In 2013, Dunham became one of the 100 most influential people in the world. The female protagonist she plays however, is rather contradictory. Struggling, in a concrete metropolis. Viewers come back to Girls for the relatable lives of the characters.

Inescapably, the girls face love-escapades, drunken nights, weddings (though short-lived) and weekends at the beach house, but it is the quintessential laissez-faire attitude to sex, groping, relationships, death and a multitude of other life scenarios, which shows that screwing up is just another mundanity we all must face. These melancholically ordinary lives are somewhat uplifting.

Lena is playing out the flaws and weaknesses of about every single woman everywhere, having herself suggested that people are their own contradictions. It has lead famous teen blogger Tavi Gevinson to state in her TedX talk, that because of the ideal, the superwomen we see on TV, “people expect women to be that easy to understand, and women are mad at themselves for not being that simple…” and goes on to explain how feminist Dunham is now representing the archetype of aspiring adults who have never been represented on TV, using four eclectic women at the centre.

Friendships have not changed, nor have people, society has. Girls shows this in comparison to seemingly popular, city-empowered female protagonists. Friendships in Girls are shown pragmatically, as is fashion. Though fashion still needs to express an element of “theatrical reality” explains costume designer Jennifer Rogien to The Hollywood Reporter, she explains how she uses the clothes to show “explicitly where they are in their lives.”

Life can be as sacerdotal as we dream. If one were to own a menagerie of designer clothes, those Louboutin’s would be strutting away with a towering coffee in one hand, and an intellectually compelling book in the other, but whilst one is still figuring life out, shows like Girls are saying its ok to not be there quite yet.


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