Since the HBO original series, Girls, premiered about 10 weeks ago, I’ve been engaging with a lot of people of all ages about the show -- getting into deep discussions on many levels about why I think it’s the most brilliant work on television right now. Obvioulsy, not everyone agrees. But the reasons why people agree or disagree is interesting. It’s starting to become clear that almost everyone can be put into one of the the following 6 categories on a scale of worshipping to not even watching:
1. The Worshipper
The Worshipper, like me, wants to bronze every word that comes out of the characters’ mouths (esp. Lena Dunham’s), frame it and put it on a wall to revisit time and time again. (e.g. or "Didn't you say texting is like the lowest form of communication on the pillar of chat?" "The totem of chat, and Facebook is the lowest, followed by Gchat, then texting, then email, then phone; face-to-face is of course ideal, but it's not of this time." Or, “No, I have not tried a lot to lose weight, because I decided I was going to have some other concerns in my life.” The worshipper also loves the awkwardness of seeing Lena Dunham’s not-perfect body naked and in compromising positions almost every episode. It’s a nice, realistic break from the cartoonish Samantha Jones sex we got in Sex/City. As one critic wrote recently: Everyone on the show is “beautiful but nobody looks like they’re on the CW and nobody has a body your friend wouldn’t have...”
2. The Liker
Just below worship, of course, I’ve encountered those who dig the show, but aren’t going to proselytize about it on a major Weblog. The Liker generally appreciates what Lena is doing to buck the stereotype of what we generally consider worthy of a leading, sexy lady role on a major television show. The Liker also appreciates things like the fact that one of Hannah’s tattoos was inspired by the children’s book Eloise that she got in high school because she gained a lot of weight in a short amount of time and wanted to feel in control of her own body.
3. The On The Fencer
This person has watched a few episodes, maybe even half a dozen, mostly because all her friends are talking about it on Facebook, but hasn’t committed yet. Seeing Lena have sloppy sex is a struggle. Also, aside from Lena’s character, the On The Fence-r isn’t sold on the other three girls—their plot lines aren’t developed and their acting is subpar.
4. The Critic
The Critic can’t stand that a show has been made about four girls who come from privilege and/or famous parents. (e.g. Dunham is the daughter of Laurie Simmons, a photographer and designer, and Carroll Dunham, a painter. Zosia Mamet, another star on the series, is the daughter of American playwright, essayist, screenwriter and film director David Mamet and actress Lindsay Crouse.) As if such girls don’t exist in real life. The Critic also doesn’t like that of the four girls, none is African-American, Asian or Latino. Again, as if there aren’t four female white friends who hang around together in the real world.
5. The Loather
In my discussions with people about the show, many have expressed their violent reactions to the series. In general, I’d say these people are speaking from a jealous place. Either they are writers who are envious that the show is getting so much attention while their pilot sits dusty in a drawer somewhere, or they are jealous of Dunham’s raw talent. They wanted to be the voice of the millennial generation or are upset that Dunham’s quirky dialogue is regarded as the voice of the millennial generation. Every comparison of Dunham to Woody Allen makes them want to run from the family room screaming. (Wait, do people still watch television in the family room?) Others are put off to such a show because it’s too real. They want sitcom dialogue with its familiar setup line, setup line, joke, setup line, setup line, joke. If they’re going to see people naked, having sex on camera, well it better damn well be someone they’d want to fantasize about later. Not some average-looking chick with an average amount of cellulite an tattoos.
6. The Won’t Watcher
This person has heard a few things about the show and has already decided it’s not for her. Maybe she even saw Dunham’s 2009 feature filmed while still at Oberlin College, Creative Nonfiction, or her 2010 Tiny Furniture. Maybe one of those films rubbed her the wrong way. Or maybe she doesn’t have HBO and isn’t shy about saying so. “Pff. I hate all that pretentious crap on cable.” Whatever the reason, The Won’t Watcher isn’t watching and isn’t willing to give it a try. That’s okay. Girls doesn’t need Two and a Half Men numbers. It just needs numbers 1-6. Because a list like this is proof that Dunham has done something really, really big. And don't forget, no one ever erected a statue for a critic. How about you all? Do you fit one of the six types above? Let us know in the comments below!