The cast of HBO's Girls
I tried watching the pilot episode of Girls on four separate occasions. Each time, I was left annoyed, frustrated, and confused as to why the series received so much attention, not only from my friends and family, but by the entertainment industry as a whole. It was raunchy, tried too hard, and my natural inclination towards hating Lena Dunham surely didn’t help.
This tends to happen a lot in my life, but somehow, I found myself sitting and watching the series finale on April 16, having plowed through all six seasons in a little under two months. It felt like the end of an era; an era that I had only been a part of for a handful of days. Still, after watching the finale, I realized that I didn’t hate Girls. I simply was not ready to watch it up until this point in my life.
When I try and explain the plot of Girls, anyone reading may be led to think that this was just another show about friends living in New York City, living unrealistically, and solving life’s many problems. Girls is exactly this, but so much more, and in such a different and refreshing way. It is messy, ugly, gross, and sometimes tough to watch. There are bodies flopping around in dirty apartments, dishes piled high in the sink, rent unpaid, and chipping paint.
Yet, at the end of each episode, I felt a weird nostalgia for my girl friends and the relationships we’ve built over the years. While the “girls” on Girls have a few years on my friends, and are unarguably better, more sympathetic people, I think that the underlying theme of that sense of support and community struck a cord with a lot of people.
Between the men, the apartments, the unemployment, one thing remains constant: the relationships and the friendships built and torn down over the years. Even if your friends don’t sleep with surf instructors, shit in the middle of the street (shout out to Jessa), or move to Tokyo when they’re feeling a little lost, people all over the world have found a way to connect with each and every character, even if they were embarrassed about it. I found myself as Hannah, self-absorbed and lost. I found myself as Shoshanna, feeling immature and inexperienced. I found myself as Marnie, like life had somehow been unfair to me and owed me more, and even as Jessa, feeling like I should simply run away from everything.
I wasn’t ready to watch Girls until this year. I felt uncomfortable, not only watching the character’s on-screen, but with myself, all of the times I had turned on the pilot episode and quickly shut it off. I couldn’t understand that period between girlhood and womanhood, and while I’m probably not even at the peak of it yet, I feel like I am getting there.
Girls was the best teacher of this subject. It didn’t offer any clear solutions like so many shows do. The characters didn’t wake up with full faces of makeup, rock hard abs, or lives that were worth lusting over. But somehow, it made me, and a lot of other people, feel comfortable in our current situations, no matter how messy they may be. Girls is about girls. Not girls becoming women, not women becoming mothers. It is about living and relishing in the fact that there is truly nothing like being a girl in this world.