Say what you will about HBO’s Girls—and so much has already been said*—it is impossible to watch without taking it really, intensely personally.
If you are old (or old-ish), it makes you think how NOT like Hannah and her friends you and your friends were. (Or, possibly, how you were.) If you’re young, you might think, “Hey! Where can I find a parent who will bankroll me in NYC while I find myself in an unpaid internship?” On another level entirely (and regardless of age), you might just find that the characters are interesting, some of the predicaments ring true enough, and the whole thing is entertaining in and of itself. Sometimes a sitcom is just a sitcom.
Here are some thoughts on Episode 1: Pilot.
Like a lot of Girls watchers, I viewed the first scene from way the hell up on my high horse. And why not? I love passing judgment on fictional characters! No one gets hurt. You don’t get called out for being judgmental. There are no awkward counterattacks. Observing character flaws in scripted TV characters gives you a smug self-satisfaction you just can’t get anywhere else. (Reality TV, in contrast, make me fear for humanity.)
That first scene was a bonanza.
Here’s Hannah, out to dinner with her parents, slurping spaghetti the way kids do before they’re taught the fork-twirling technique. One minute everything is fine and then, BOOM! Hannah’s mother informs her that, after a year or so of funding her post-graduate NYC life, the parental money train is coming to a stop.
Brute force of numeric data (aka age) puts me firmly in the parental camp. And yet… I can’t help but wonder how is it that Hannah is so completely blindsided by this turn of events? Was she unaware of the family’s socio-economic status? Did she never read an article, somewhere, that said that at some point people have to save for like, you know, retirement?
True, Hannah is appalling—clueless, selfish, and lacking a single compelling reason why her parents should support her. (She’s their only child? They have nothing better to spend their money on? They’re lucky that she hasn’t taken up drugs, or serial abortion?) But in Hannah’s defense, her parents seem to have neglected to teach her at least two key life concepts:
1) How to eat spaghetti in public, and
2) The economic facts of life
Also in her defense: It does seem a little incredible that there were no parental warning shots prior to this bombshell. This gravy train just… halted. Mid tracks. Not cool, Mom and Dad!
After this scene, we meet the other Girls and associated guys and get their takes on the disastrous turn Hannah’s life has taken. Her sensible roommate Marnie (sensibly) advises her to find a job. The guy she’s sleeping with tells her he’d never take his parent’s money (“Don’t ever be anyone’s slave”), but admits he gets $800 a month from his grandmother. Her world-weary British friend Jessa tells her to simply inform her parents that she’s an artist and will die in a garret if they don’t pay up.
It comes full circle when Hannah, fortified by this sage advice (and opium tea) shows up at her parents’ hotel room, thrusts her memoirs at them, and passes out.
Hard to say what they thought of her work, since when she wakes up in the morning, they’re gone. Her first move? She tries to order room service. Oh, Hannah.
No dice on the room service. The parents have checked out and paid up. Hannah needs to vacate the hotel. And what does she do then? She takes the money her parents left for housekeeping.
Oh, Hannah! Can this Girl be saved? I’ll definitely be tuning in to find out.
Oh, and PS: Jessa’s pregnant.
Hannah Horvath: Lena Dunham
Marnie Michaels: Allison Williams (Brian’s daughter)
Jessa Johansson: Jemima Kirke (daughter of Bad Company drummer Simon)
Shoshanna Shapiro: Zosia Mamet (David’s daughter)
Dad (Dan Horvath): Peter Scolari
Mom (Laraine Horvath): Becky Ann Baker (Fun fact: Mrs. Cartwright on Smash!)
Study Group Question:
• Is it just me, or did you notice a strange gleam in Hannah’s mother’s eyes? Was that weird TV lighting? Or something more sinister? Discuss.
Hannah’s dad looks mighty familiar! Bonus points for 80s tweens who can remember which shows he was on.
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