I had two (major) thoughts while watching the second episode of HBO’s Girls. The first was of this scene in Sex and the City - the final season I think - where Samantha returns to New York from her Scott Jarrett live-in base in Los Angeles with the tiniest (we’re talking a skin roll) bit of belly flab, barely visible between an impossibly tight pair of white pants and a cropped halter top. Miranda, Carrie and Charlotte stand around in disgusted awe: that Samantha dare show her face in New York with said roll is apparently disgusting; an atrocity, something that must be stopped immediately, and, clearly, symptomatic of a much larger problem. First we’re told that a tiny skin roll is a Problem, only to have it cemented by Samantha’s admission that yes indeed, the skin roll is symptomatic of a much larger problem (monogamy’s just not her bag).
The thought proceeding the above was a deep, gut-rooted ‘ugh’. An ‘ugh’ at seeing Lena Dunham’s arms in the air, small breasts and not-petite stomach laid flat, face up on the kind of thrift-store bed I recognize well. ‘Ugh’ at the ‘sexy’ rape-talk her creepy partner is mouthing. It was an ‘ugh’ at the whole situation, really, an ‘ugh’ for two very distinct reasons. ‘Ugh’ because unlike that Sex and the City faux-ment this scene achieves the awkwardness it was going for – I have a male flatmate who will testify to this - ultimately because - like most instances on Girls – shit's real.
When Marni pronounces to worldly, head-in-the-clouds Jessa that the dynamic between them turns Marni uptight, because Jessa makes her uptight, even though she’s not usually uptight, you can relate. Unlike the two-dimensional four-some in Sex and the City (Carrie is like so creative right) Hannah, Marni, Jessa and Shoshanna are believable, believable because their interactions are subtle and nuanced: the result of 24 year olds writing about 24 year olds in 2012.
The honest depiction of a their body types is similarly significant. Forget a simple skin roll and admire Jessa’s buxom babeness, or the ability of the writers to make the character closest to physical perfection – Marni – the least sexy. These paradigms exist in reality, but they’re blurred by the designer stick figures who feature on most female-oriented shows (the irony of women re-enforcing these stereotypes is not lost on me, either).
Or more specifically sex. Like the dynamic between the four leads, discussing the 'The Totem Pole of Communication’ in relation to a new partner who won’t text you back is something everyone - I know at least - can relate to (and if they say they can’t they’re lying). The intimate moments are a cornerstone to the significance of Girls, too. No tealight candles or mood music here, no 300-thread-count sheet draped over private parts either, every awkward position and every call for a condom is laid, ah, completely bare. If teachers showed this to kids in sex-ed instead of scaremongering with a rant about STD’s and teen pregnancy, said kids would perhaps be a lot better off.
Ultimately Girls is just a big bunch of refreshing, and - for you naysayers - it doesn't pretend to be anything more than what it is. It’s really funny because it’s real life for a bunch of young women – if the hype is anything to go by – who are fucking sick of watching heiresses stomp around in poorly put together designer outfits, having perfect sex in perfect apartments with perfect boyfriends. I applaud HBO for screening it and look forward to more honest programming to follow.