A voice of a generation died on Sunday night in Iowa City, Iowa. The voice, which began as a clarion call about the pitfalls and life lessons learned by a very specific slice of upper-middle class, white Brooklynites finally collapsed under its own weight when Hannah Horvath quit the Iowa Writer’s Workshop because her classmates Mean-Girl’d her and thought her work unserious or worthy of their accolades.
Of course, she did little to ingratiate herself with her fellow graduate students, but having taken the next step in a series of random steps (to paraphrase Adam) and failed spectacularly, to pull up stakes is just the sort of who-gives-a-shit kind of decision that I guess you can make when it does not appear that you need to earn money to live or be concerned about consequences other than the fact your boyfriend got himself a new girlfriend while you were away, which should not surprise you since you randomly told him you were going to Iowa the night of his Broadway premiere. But hey, <shrug>
For all its acclaim and the avalanche of thought pieces, show recaps, and Internet buzz it generated, Hannah’s return to Brooklyn, only to discover that Adam has shacked up (in her apartment no less!) with a new lover is the jump-the-shark moment when Girls has officially run out of things to say. It is not just that Jessa continues to have a cosmic get-out-of-jail free card (even when she pees on the sidewalk) or that Marnie can make from-behind-ass-eating oddly untittilating, or that Shosh seems to be a Tourette’s robot incapable of speaking in anything other than an odd staccato that one can only hope does not actually exist in real life, it is that one can only roll one’s eyes so many times at this crew before finally saying, WHO CARES.
When it began, Girls seemed revelatory and fresh, its protagonist famously advising her parents that she thought she could be “a voice of a generation.” But that wobbly combination of self-confidence and insecurity that is stereotypically millennial wears thin after a while when the people start looking like hamsters on a wheel and no progress is made. While it is true that the Seinfeld gang went to lunch on the “no lessons learned” mantra for nine seasons, it took itself far less seriously and was elevated by the vox populi to its exalted state from meager ratings to be a show that tens of millions watched each week. On the other hand, and as others have observed, shows like Broad City have cropped up to show a more realistic (and bawdy) version of life in New York City for random 20somethings.
My own feelings about Girls are well-documented and there is something to be said about the idea that anything in culture only loses its relevance if people stop paying attention to it. Clearly, Girls still matters to some in the media, just not in the way it once did. Recaps and analysis seem perfunctory and the show is no longer appointment television, which highlights the difficulty any show has in sustaining the sweet spot of cultural zeitgeist and critical accolades and underscores the difference between the very good and truly great.
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Season 2: http://scarylawyerguy.blogspot.com/2013/08/girls-season-two-review.html
Season 1: http://scarylawyerguy.blogspot.com/2013/03/girls-season-one.html