No show is without its problems, and Girls is probably one of the best examples of this. The show, and creator/executive producer Lena Dunham have come under a lot of fire recently for the inability to incorporate diversity into the show’s cast. There have been several other criticisms for the show as well, which begs the question: why do I even watch it? Well readers, here is my plea.
The characters on Girls are not easy to love. Hannah (played by Dunham), at the forefront of the show, is selfish, judgmental, and not always a beacon of the goodness of humanity. Similarly, Marnie, Jessa, and Shoshanna (Allison Williams, Jemima Kirke, and Zosia Mamet, respectively) all have their faults and are not exactly righteous. But which of us are? Who among us hasn’t acted the way the girls of Girls act? Who among us can say that we haven’t screwed up royally at one time or another? The show cuts these characters down to size and doesn’t play them up to be perfect women who go through life gracefully and maturely. We all have pitfalls. We struggle with our employment and living situations, as well as our love and social lives. I believe that Girls chooses to focus more on these ongoing issues than on the more positive victories in life.
Another much-discussed topic on Girls involves the consistent nudity in almost every episode. Here, Dunham takes gutsy steps in the right direction. By physically exposing the characters on the show, they are essentially stripped down to their vulnerabilities, just as we all are. The sex on the show can be quite awkward at times; in fact, I’d go so far as to say that sometimes it is a bit out of my own comfort zone. However, this can be seen as a good thing. By watching these scenes, we are able to acknowledge that sex isn’t always great. Sometimes it is messy and awkward. Sometimes we don’t look attractive when we’re naked, much to the contrary of many other shows that portray nudity as a flawless and perfectly achievable concept.
In terms of nudity and acknowledging body image, Hannah Horvath is a strong figurehead for girls in our society. It is important that we see a woman who is not thin, yet is still happy. Hannah has relationships, sexual and otherwise. She doesn’t hide her body simply because she does not look the way the world expects her to look. After being bombarded by our culture’s uniform images of model-thin girls, it is refreshing to see someone who doesn’t look that way and who shows her body unashamedly. Of all the messages on the show, I believe this one to be of utmost importance, especially since the target audience is in fact girls and young women.
If I want you to take away anything from this it is that, yes, Girls is problematic. But here’s the thing: it’s okay to like things that are problematic! In fact, I encourage the viewership and acknowledgement of TV shows with heavily debatable issues, only so that we can better educate ourselves on morally controversial topics such as lack of diversity on television. Casting people of color is incredibly important, and by actively viewing shows like Girls, we can take a step in the direction of understanding that the world we live in is colorful, and it’s time we reflected that on television.
I of course don’t want to completely discredit Dunham, who has created a show that examines what it is to be a girl, nay, a woman in her 20s. While Dunham may not be “the voice of our generation,” as Hannah believes she might be on the show, Dunham is still a vital female voice that speaks directly and honestly. Quite frankly, hers is a voice that deserves recognition. Girls may not be as progressive as we would necessarily like it to be, but it definitely takes a step in the right direction, and for that I applaud the show.
Do you watch Girls? What’s your opinion of the show and the criticisms against it? Let us know what you think!