Art · Brooklyn · New York City · Women

On “Girls”: Will The Real Hannah Please Stand Up?

I no longer can resist blogging about “Girls,” and I don’t even care if that’s a cliché, because I’m so similar to Hannah–only a few years older, East Coast instead of Midwestern, state school instead of liberal arts digs–that I’m really no longer concerned about clichés. Because apparently, I am one. Or at least an archetype.

But what I find most interesting is not comparing Hannah and myself, but rather Hannah and Lena Dunham. They are both writers, with gumption and moxie and lust for artsy boys and a flouncy “can’t-do-the-9-to-5” air about them. But whereas Hannah has to struggle through the internship and interview mills, her creator, Lena, never had to. She began making films and TV series in college, because she was raised by creative, supportive parents. Wealthy parents. Well-connected Manhattan parents. But Hannah’s got none of that. She’s gotta make it on her own–sort of, because her parents keep her funded (or did, for two years).

Was it too difficult for Dunham to portray the real lifeworld of a Brooklynite writer, whose parents can’t dole out cash, and who waits tables and writes blog posts for $50-a-pop in order to experience the thrill of having her words published? Hannah is a brave character who in many ways represents so many aspects of young womanhood (awkward sex with not-quite-men, financial struggles, disdain of one’s body, difficultly adjusting to post-college professional life). And in her core, Hannah is a feminist. She’s unafraid to go for what she wants, and believes in the power of her intellect. But she would be more of a feminist if she had to do what most twenty-something women in New York City–who aren’t from extremely wealthy families–have to do: hustle, often while working stupid jobs and doing dumbed-down work.

At this point in the series, I’m waiting for Hannah to get her mind off her boyfriend’s dick, and get real. She’s managed to get Adam to take her seriously–which almost went very badly, but then appeared to be quite promising. He’s one of the more compelling characters of the show–partly because he has so far to go before he can realize his talents. He’s impetuous, impatient, and self-absorbed: qualities that make him lovable yet prevent him from achieving anything substantial. But now that Hannah has a boyfriend, she needs to focus on herself. What about her “book of essays,” which she sometimes calls a memoir? What is it about and will she ever focus on completing it? I am curious to see how Dunham will carve out the path to success for Hannah, who is, unlike the show’s writer, not propped up by parental support and connections. In other words, I need to know what become of the Brooklyn writer, the real one who has no money but many things to say, who isn’t so pretentious to think of herself as “the voice of her generation” but is perhaps “a voice of a generation.” How does the Every Woman, who can’t ask her parents for money, produce something as profoundly important as “Girls”?

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