Girls can be a tough show for me to watch a lot of the time, and it’s actually for the same reasons that my girlfriend insists she can’t enjoy Arrested Development. She swears that the Bluths make it impossible for her to watch that show, being that she hates them so thoroughly. Of course, anybody can decline to watch any show for whatever reason — but whether you like Arrested Development or not, it’s pretty clear that you’re supposed to hate the Bluth family. The only person you’re really supposed to root for on that show, in any kind of capacity, is Michael — and even he acts with incredible selfishness and little regard for any kind of moral compass. On a show like Arrested Development, this is entirely the point. The show is a satire. When I watch Girls, I experience something similar to what I would imagine my girlfriend goes through whenever she tries to sit down in front of Arrested Development: I just fucking. hate. all. the. characters. on. the. screen. All of them. I feel the same way when I watch How I Met Your Mother, and I’ve spent ample time trying to figure out why. I can’t honestly say that I hold either show in critical contempt. Girls is some well-done television. The writing is solid, the acting is fine, and the direction is pleasing. I don’t have any beef with the quality of Girls, but I’ll be goddamned if it’s not super hard for me to watch these selfish, terrible kids act like assholes week after week. It’s hard because apparently I’m supposed to be rooting for them.
Ostensibly, Hannah is supposed to be the protagonist of Girls. We’re supposed to root for her as she makes her journey towards self-actualization. Right? I assume so, but by the end of season one, I had a seriously hard time giving a shit about Hannah’s journey. The girl hasn’t learned a goddamn thing, and doesn’t really seem like she wants to, even subconsciously.
Season two of Girls begins with Marnie getting fired, which is actually kind of fun to watch. The fact that I’m gleefully watching this character lose her job, though, makes me wonder whether or not Lena Dunham is in on her own joke. After a minute in the kind of slightly surreal, coldly uncaring “grown-up” world, we’re right back to Hannah. This time she’s banging Donald Glover’s character, before she explains to him that she has a bunch of “rules” for this new relationship, because she must act, at all times, as though she is in high school. The very next scene features Hannah taking verbal abuse from her not-really-ex-boyfriend Adam, and I find myself wondering, once again, if Lena Dunham is in on her own joke. I can watch Arrested Development because it’s a show whose intention is to expose how fucking awful its main characters are. They might not be in on the joke, but the teller of the story most absolutely is.
Is the teller of Girls’ story in on the joke? I seriously don’t know, because when I watch Adam and Hannah interact, I don’t feel like I’m watching a biting satire that examines the foibles of my generation. I feel, instead, like I’m watching two actual emotional cripples treat each other like shit. There’s not much that’s funny about depicting idiots exactly as they are. It’s the same reason I don’t like How I Met Your Mother.
If Girls is supposed to be a satire, the only character and/or actress who seems to “get it” is Zosia Mamet as Shoshanna. Otherwise, I can’t find myself rooting for these shitty, selfish kids. And Jesus GOD was I fucking bummed when I remembered that we’ve also got a supremely irritating British girl and her dipshit husband to follow around for a whole season. Chris O’Dowd’s Thomas-John was a great character to laugh at for an episode, but I have zero desire to know what he’s going to be doing for an entire second season of television. What’s more is that his scene with Jessa accomplished little other than to remind us that these are two giggling adult children who don’t give a flying fuck about anybody but themselves and want to make out a bunch.
I really don’t like hating on television this much. A review like this makes me sound like a bitter, angry guy — but Girls is getting to be a tough show for me to watch. The first episode of season two ends with three quick scenes. First, we see Jessa and Thomas-John giggling like assholes while they cut in front of a ton of people for a cab. We see Marnie seeking comfort from her own inflamed insecurity in the arms of her ex, who has a new girlfriend. Finally, we see Lena Dunham cruise over to Donald Glover’s place for bangings, immediately after leaving her other boyfriend’s bed. Can someone remind me why I’m supposed to care about (let alone be rooting for) any of these characters?