Unpacking the Poster: A review of season one of ​”Girls” by Will Kay

Posted on August 3, 2012

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It has become apparent to the Egg that two new blogging rules have been instated: 1) make a post about Games of Thrones and 2) make a post about Girls. Since the editors of the blog have unfortunately not seen enough of Game of Thrones to comment (mostly due to our obsession with hate-watching shows eg. The Secret Circle and Smash), we would like to welcome ourselves to the Internet with: Unpacking the Poster: A review of season one of Girls. P.S. Who does HBO’s P.R. because we’d love some of that when, our latent but obvious, megalomania kicks in.

THE POSTER

Firstly, Girls is about four twenty-something upper-middle class white girls making their first shaky steps into the post-collegiate creative world of New York City. It invokes Sex and the City in the first episode as an obvious cultural meter and fellow HBO comedy stablemate (in fact probably its sire), but the show attempts to differentiate itself by being a more “authentic” younger struggle in New York. It presents itself as less of a love drama and more of a battle to keep afloat. Incrementally throughout the season this premise takes more of a back-seat to the love dramas.

Looking at the poster, let’s start with creator, writer, director and star of the show, Lena Dunham, who plays the infuriating Hannah. Hannah is in the centre of the poster, in the centre of the couch, with her head dead-centre. Consequently we can surmise that Hannah is the centre of the poster and the show. Let’s use a bit of legilimency on Hannah. Legilimens:

Hannah is sorta like hey I wore these shoes today because you know when you’re getting your picture taken you have to represent who you are and what you’re about and seriously I have some of my shit together, hipster style. Plus I am really trying to connect with the camera, like, shit on these bitches, but I am the star of the show, in fact, “I am the star of the movie of my life.” I’ll be going places as long as I make it obvious that I don’t need these bitches. That is why I, somehow, manage to take up most of the space of the poster without having outward-facing body language. I am all about the neg. The neg face, the neg boyf, the neg on the job. The neg is my artistic jam. But I’ll sit next to Marnie so everyone knows she’s maa bestie.

As you can tell, Hannah is out to prove herself by being as self-centered as possible, which is a frustrating and difficult character choice. Hannah’s attitude is one that I simultaneously  admire and despise. I admire that she looks out for her own interests and tries to be successful in her own manner. On the flip-side, the character then suffers from a lack of likeability. Dunham has said repeatedly that the characters have the extremes of characteristics she sees in herself and those around her which could explain the extremity of Hannah’s self-centralisation. However, the greatest malady of the character is that she doesn’t seem to have any redeeming features. Although we are told repeatedly that Hannah is smart, in Hannah’s actions it isn’t apparent. Throughout the season, she is aware of little that goes on around her, even with her love interest, Adam, which is evident in the railroad scene when Adam asks her what she knows of him, which turns out to be very little. This contradiction, of smart but unaware, can’t feasibly be explained away as a narcissistic personality disorder, because we are talking about the main character in TV show. As the main character she should be self-reflective in order to allow a broad audience to understand the show.

Hannah

On the rest of the “girls”, Marnie (Allison Williams) left of Hannah has two main things going on. Firstly, she has the I-am-a-very-important-art-bitch wardrobe down. Then there is the “zig-zag” sitting position (as us body-linguists call it), which involves quite a bit of Jessa (Jemima Kirke) who is sat to the left of Marnie, and it all goes a little like this:

Marnie is a bit like I wouldn’t mind a bit of Jessa (in the face), I’ll let her give me some sensual back to back touching.

Jessa is like oh gods this feels so right. I am just going to chuckle quietly to myself. Holy shit! My feet aren’t even touching the ground that is how much I am into this sensual back grazing.

Although Marnie is like I am going to keep my distance by crossing my leg away from Jessa, it makes me comfortable, and will have Jessa wanting more body language attention… mmmhmm. Jessa will be wanting that piece of boney ass that is now poking into her leg.

Jessa is just like still chuckling, so happy right now. Like seriously, our hairs are touching, dream come true. All these years of ignoring her have finally paid off. I am not a rebound or nuttin’.

Marnie is like this is best way to get back at Charlie for that trollop he had on his arm when I saw him last. He is still mine, come on, the break-up period obvi. We even had getting-back-together-but-oh-no-we’re-breaking-up-again sex, if that doesn’t entitle me to a least five months…

All the while Jessa is like so many people who watch HBO are going to wanna be me, this is brill, I mean shit, I am even wearing my rainbow sandals and taupe relaxed-fit trousers, all the HBO-bitches wanna be me. Of course Marnie can’t resist this. But hey, I might just marry some random dude because I am a cool-ass hipster gold-digger.

But most of all Marnie is like I’ll be damned if the world doesn’t think I’m the hot one.

OK, so I obviously don’t like Marnie, which is more my fault as I always find A-type characters a shallow representation of the complex personality type. So I am not going to comment any further, because I can’t without involving my prejudices. Jessa is a character I love because I am an HBO-bitch. In all seriousness, Jessa represents those who are adrift, which to me is a wonderful place, but obviously not an adult place. The show hasn’t really given her any interests or hobbies or anything she does apart from escapist travel wanderlust, which only serves the “adrift” character trait. Jessa’s listlessness is a choice that defeats the idea of Jessa having hope and ambitions, even progression. It is a rare person without hope. Why would we care about her, if she doesn’t care about herself?

Finally we have my favourite, Shoshanna, to the right of Hannah. Shoshanna dreams on her own:

Shoshanna is a little like it is, like, so comfy without my shoes on; I don’t know why the other girls haven’t taken theirs off. Maybe my feet smell that could be it. I wonder what they are thinking about, I bet it is way more interesting than the stuff I think about. This apartment is so real and cool, a lot gross, but really cool. I wonder if I could live here? No.

Basically Shoshanna is the lovely, nutty, innocent “girl”, who, despite the little amount of screen-time she’s got, has the most consistent character, which I think is a tribute to the actor Zosia Mamet. Shoshanna has the most brilliant lines in the show, for a few of the best click here.

All-in-all I find the characters of Girls fun and funny, also entirely annoying. Let’s be honest I know these girls” in real life, but in real life they are infinitely more complex. While the show represents an aspect of the upper-middle class white girl, they by no means represent the entirety. These characters might be reductive, but it is pretty hard to find a character-based TV show that isn’t. So no, I won’t say it is great, but it is a decent new, honest conception of twenty-something “girls”.

Girls airs on Showcase on Foxtel at 8:30pm on Mondays.

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Posted in: Television