In the first episode of Lena Dunham’s HBO series “Girls,” Dunham’s character, Hannah Horvath, defines herself as “the voice of my generation” — the me-centric millennials still bankrolled by their parents, the anxious 20-somethings with crippling low self-esteem and the lost souls who dare to dream without knowing that they’d eventually settle before figuring out what they want.
As if to prove her point, Horvath backpedals a bit, clarifying her goal to be “a voice of a generation,” hoping to articulate what it’s like to be an age when the only thing you’re absolutely sure of is how unsure you are.
Written and directed by Dunham, “Girls” shows you what’s behind the Valencia-filtered Instagram photos: the minutes you’re questioning your entire existence and Googling “stuff that gets up on the side of condoms” in the middle of the night.
Dunham’s voice is full of disappointment that even though “Girls” is branded as a comedy, the show comes across as a series of awkward, emotional and sad events. While Horvath dreams of becoming a bohemian writer living in New York City, the reality is that she’s hardly living. She has no steady job and she can’t afford rent. To top it off, her ex-boyfriend (Andrew Rannells) tells her that he’s gay and that he gave her an S.T.D., her old boss (Richard Masur) gropes her at work and her undefined intimate partner (Adam Driver) treats her like her “heart is monkey meat.”
Her roommates Marnie (Allison Williams), Jessa (Jemima Kirke) and Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet) are equally lost in their own ways. Marnie has a boyfriend from college (Christopher Abbott) that she’s been dating forever but doesn’t love. Jessa’s never worked before being hired as a baby sitter. And Shoshanna’s a 22-year-old college student who’s biggest baggage is still being a virgin.
Unhappiness unites them as they desperately seek love and adventures through a series of study abroad experiences, unpaid internships and casual sex with men who don’t text back.
If “Girls” is “a voice of a generation,” it’s an uncomfortable one — like a modern day “Sex in the City” with Esther Greenwood from Sylvia Plath’s “Bell Jar” as its narrator. It’s not very glamorous and Mr. Big hasn’t figured out how to adult either. But in 29-minute episodes, “Girls” captures the anxieties of being 24.
If we were to believe Dunham’s portrayal though, being 24 is one fear that you’d want to miss out on.
“Girls” was created by Lena Dunham.