Tuesday, 24 April 2012

GIRLS - Review

After watching the first two episodes of HBO’s Girls I am going to make as bold a statement as to say that it is some of the best television I have seen in about half a decade.

Though I do not want to delve too far in to the racial politics, in fear of offending someone, I will just very quickly address the widespread criticism of the ‘All-white cast in a multi-cultural New York’. Admittedly, it did not go unnoticed – and certainly does not feel right: As a viewer you do definitely question the producers’ logic with regards to their casting decisions. However, I do not see this, necessarily, as a deliberate decision, but maybe as more of an oversight? It could have simply been that the actors, who were best suited to play the characters, just happened to be Caucasian.  Alas, while speculation is welcome, we cannot know the truth behind the casting at this moment.

Not since Six Feet Under left our screens in 2005 have I watched such a brave portrayal of women on the small screen. Even Alan Ball’s more recent True Blood, though deliciously entertaining, still falls short when it comes to the sincerity of its characters (yes I know, they’re vampires). Girls, in fact could be seen as the sassy product of Six Feet Under and Sex and the City’s wild drunken night at the HBO Christmas party – and that’s a good thing.

Though lots of the themes of Girls are similar to those of SATC, it is a more brutally relatable portrayal of the women. We know women (and men) may wish to talk about their various issues regarding sex: but unfortunately, not everyone can afford to spend the time and money doing so, every night, in a bar in Manhattan - whilst drinking an over-priced cosmopolitan. Instead we have penniless college-graduates discussing abortion as they sit in the STI clinic. It’s Bleak.

The Bravery of the writing makes the characters easily accessible and though we have only known these four women for a total of 57 minutes, we are already fully rooting for them. Without playing any ‘archetypal female roles’, we get four very different and complex characters – none of which could be seen as the stereotypical woman… Well, maybe Jemima Kirke’s Jessa (who plays the free-spirited and typically cynical Brit) but I’m willing to overlook this because she still remains an intriguing character.
Sex and the City showed the highs and lows of the women’s sexual life, but all four women seemed to strive for (and often achieve) perfect happiness in the bedroom.  Girls does not glamorise the orgasm or sex in the same way, we are only really seeing the lows. ‘Sex is really, really overrated,’ advises one of the girls.

It is this blunt writing style which makes this a fresh and terrific show, standing out from the crowd with heavy competition from various new (and old) shows. Let’s just hope that that the next eight episodes remain as strong and that we will hopefully see some more cultural diversity in the future.

One to watch.

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