"The ultimate television show for women." "The voice of a generation." "Real and refreshing." These are just some of the phrases thrown around regarding the US television show Girls, which has its UK television début tonight. But whilst the show is funny and somewhat original, it is not the televised revolution the media are making it out to be.
Lena Dunham, the creator, writer, director and star of Girls has been praised for her refreshing look at how life is for young women in New York. Young, white, middle class women that is. Women who have their unpaid internships, rent, phone bills and New York lifestyles bankrolled by their parents. Women who talk openly - and loudly - in public about sex and abortion. Women whose lives are suspiciously glossy considering its "real" premise.
Many reviews have labelled Girls the antidote to Sex and the City. Whereas Sarah Jessica Parker and co had perfect lives and bundles of Manolo Blahnik shoes, Dunham and co have awkward relationships, no career prospects and opium tea.
The biggest praise Dunham has received revolves solely around her weight. A size 12 woman who is not afraid to show her thighs on international television! And this is what disturbs me most - the media declaring that it features "real" and "normal" women who have "real" figures. I'm sorry, but does that mean that every size 6 or 8 woman is some sort of robot? Having 34D boobs does not make you any more - or any less - real than someone who wears a 32A.
I think it's a pretty clear indication on where the media stands: the reason Dunham's size 12 thighs have caused such uproar in the media is because the media has spent the past decade telling women that a double digit figure is something to be ashamed of. Yet here they are, declaring that we must all now celebrate a woman who wears an average clothes size. Talk about a mind fuck.
The media insists this show is groundbreaking. It is not. Newspapers and blogs tell us that we - especially 20something women - should worship this show because people are shocked at the excruciating honesty of the show. The only people shocked by this show are the newspapers and blogs. Normal, sane people could not care less if it is a skinny or chubby woman parading around on our television sets, so long as they have a modicum of talent.
Hidden amongst the almost universal acclaim for Girls sits a few reviews that dare to point out the flaws. It dismisses abortion as something that every woman goes through without much thought, and the pilot sees Dunham launch a tantrum when her parents declare they will no longer be financially supporting her.
The biggest criticism is, without doubt, the race debate. Without wishing to join the debate, which features people far more intelligent and wiser than me, it does strike me as incredibly odd that a show set in Brooklyn has no black or Hispanic people, not even in the background.
There are a few exceptions, mainly in the pilot which features two black men who act as a taxi driver and a homeless man. Dunham has responded to the criticism with a casual "these issues will be addressed" yet delves no further into the furore surrounding it. I'm not suggesting that she should shoehorn in a token character of colour, which would be ludicrous, but someone somewhere along the production line needs to realise that it makes the show seem even more out of touch with its target audience.
Whilst Dunham is undoubtedly talented - her multiple credits on the show vouch for that - it is hard to see her as some sort of creative genius. She is simply a young woman who has written a somewhat autobiographical show that is funny and is receiving praise. Girls is a good show and has some hilarious moments, but it's not some sort of revolution. Watch it to be entertained, not to have your life changed.
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