Mic Wright’s Remotely Furious: Funny Girls, Silly Girls, Insulting Girls With Lena Dunham
Mic Wright’s Remotely Furious: Funny Girls, Silly Girls, Insulting Girls with Lena Dunham
I’M not quite hate watching Girls yet but I’m on the cusp. The trouble is, for all the great lines and characters I really like despite their broken biscuit misfit personalities (or perhaps because of them), Lena Dunham has this habit of casually insulting her audience. I don’t think she even realises she’s doing it but this week’s instalment descended to a new low in an otherwise entertaining episode.
Hannah got a job at GQ but failed to initially realise that she was not, in fact, being taken on as a staff writer but rather as someone creating advertorial features. While the script kicked out at the sniffiness of the magazine and website staff towards the ad feature makers, it also implicitly suggested they were right to be scornful. Hannah ended up putting her head under the tap then resigning then retracting it when she realised her dream of being a ‘serious’ writer might go off track if she continued to work in what seemed like pretty fun office.
This all sticks in the craw a little when you realise that Dunham, still teeth-grindingly young and already a show-runner, author and filmmaker, had a relatively easy route to where she is today. There’s no denying she is a brilliant writer – not THE voice of her generation but A voice of her generation to paraphrase Hannah in Girls Season 1 Episode 1 – but she didn’t have to make the tough choices Hannah has had to. Dunham is the child of artists and a graduate of an expensive and highly respected artsy university.
Dunham shrugging and mugging around the idea of having to use your writing talent to shill for commerce is unfair on her audience and quite crappy all round. She is an exception, a shooting star in a generation of slow moving asteroids. Just as The X Factor loves to make a huge deal of how world-endingly terrible it is to work in a supermarket, live in a bedsit or pull pints for a living, Girls seems to imply the choice is pursue your art in purity or corrupt yourself entirely. Given that Dunham has filmed commercials for fashion brands, I’m not sure how she gets off making that case.
I still think Girls is one of the best shows out there, despite its relatively minuscule audience – vastly outweighed by critical analysis like this very column – it is funny, frank and speaks to the lives of twenty and thirty-somethings today in a way its antecedents like Sex And The City never really did. Girls isn’t aspirational, it’s generally empathetical. That’s why the ‘Hannah at GQ plot-line’ gets on my nerves so much. In reality, a person in Hannah’s position would be delighted to have a foothold at a publication like that. And she’s also got a book deal floating on the horizon, however legally messed up, so she’s hardly struggling.
It’s most galling because Dunham is writing some exquisite scenes for Marnie and Shoshanna whose relationships with Ray and “the idiot” are excruciatingly hilarious. And in Hannah and Adam she’s constructed one of the most realistic relationships in TV history. I know a few Adams. There’s a lot more of them in the world than there are Shoshannas.
Back in the world of terrestrial channels, I can’t recommend the Winter Olympics, despite the sterling commentary. If you want to know why, read my review of Hunted from last week. If you’re itching for something to stuff into your eyeballs go for the new series of Line of Duty – starting tonight at 9pm – and the fantastic anthology horror of Inside No.9 which follows straight after.