In a fairly long discussion about the show Girls a few friends and I got into a heated debate about the relevance of the series. Essentially it came down to whether the show was sensitive enough to the economic predicament our generation, of twenty and thirty-somethings, has been trying to wade through. We have less job opportunities, less money and less time to commit to the career and love ambitions we have been taught to want. Most writers, for example, are living off of bank loans or personal ones, and in most cases are trying to fit in a few hours of writing and pitching stories in between dead-end office jobs or waitressing ones. Leaving, frankly, most of us committed to living at our parents house, again, or giving up on our lofty ambitions all together.
However, there are a few friends, acquaintances and facebook stalking subjects, that are lucky enough to have parents who can support them until they’ve successfully launched their careers. A long lineage of old money can help a struggling artist become a successful one by providing them with a familial investment, and some consequential industry introductions.
Then I posed the question, why has there been such a harsh critique of this show, when we grew up with our very own pop culture example of the 1%, Sex and City of course, before the 1% became a catch phrase? The response from a successful photographer, who has only recently been able to support himself without a second gig, at thirty, was this: Sex and the City wasn’t presented as a generational representation and it wasn’t filmed in faux-documentary style - it was merely a grandiose daydream of Manholo’s and walk-in closets. Sex and the City was fantastical. Girls, however, has been marketed and filmed as though it is representing something real.
Perhaps the show would have been more widely accepted had the title not been such a generalization. Girls. All of us? Not quite. More precisely, ‘Rich, White (Jewish) Girls’.
This isn’t meant to come across as a bitter review of the show, but it does. In a unique social environment, where families have lost their homes and jobs, where new immigrant families are trying to build better lives for their children, where most of us turn a blind eye to ghettos in America, just a few blocks away from the gated communities of the rich, a little more sensitivity and diverse representation would have been better appreciated by so many of us.
Strangely, having said all of this, I still watch and love the show, because truth be told, I’ve been Lena Dunham. What the show does represent quite precisely is the experience of being a new-adult woman. Our twenties have probably become some of the most arduous years we will ever encounter. We, Girls, make bad decisions about men. We allow self-doubt to infiltrate our friendships and our sexual ones. We begin building the framework for the rest of our lives and yet we have absolutely no clue what we are doing. We have the opportunity to question what we would like to achieve, but not the life experiences to make the clearest decisions. We want to be babied by our parents and we want to be submissive to our boyfriends, but only in bed. We want to do well, we want to throw money back in our parents’ faces but we are working against thousands of other women who are willing to work for free, or for favours.
Perhaps if the show had just chosen a better stylist, so that we could gawk at the perfected imperfection of young women in the city, the element of make-believe that is so incessantly lacking would be there. The only Girl on the show whose style one might want to mimic is Jessa Johansson, which we’ve showcased in this post. Maybe this is because her real-life mother owns a vintage store, Geminola, in the West Village, which supplied much of STC’s wardrobe. Yes, you read correctly, the real-life women who portray the Girls on the show, are essentially representing their own lives. Jemima Kirke , Lena Dunham, Allison Williams, Zosia Mamet.
With the right stylist, Jessa’s looks could go from just another art school bobo to an idealistic version of what a rich white girl, struggling with the weight of her small fortune, might wear. As it stands, her styling looks like a second-hand concoction of hippie staples, while what I imagine they are going for is a rebellious trust fund kid who wants to drown the neglect of her absentee parents in xanax and pot. This is reflected in vintage-looking but designer wear, long silhouettes and layers. The kimono she was wearing when she seduces her ex-boyfriend, again, would be a maxi-length kimono-style dress, while the feathered shrug look in the Bushwick party episode would be accessorized with a layered statement necklace and not a series of turquoise, garage sale beads. And while the printed wide-leg pants in the Camp Ramah scene were right-on, the jersey blouse and bomber jacket, were not. A tonal-blocked biker jacket, silk asymmetrical tank and red-leather bucket bag, might be more reflective of what we imagined, or wished, her character to wear.