Last year, HBO debuted Girls to a bizarre backlash and a backlash to a backlash for reasons that never made sense. Now, entering season two, it’s time for everyone — even men — to watch HBO’s best comedy that isn’t Curb Your Enthusiasm
Before we talk about the first four episodes on the screener HBO was kind enough to send us, let’s go back to last year. The first season of Girls was an interesting TV experiment. It’s not quite a sitcom, but it’s definitely not a drama. As we watch the relative incompetence of Hannah (Lena Dunham) and her friends as they try — try being the key word — to establish themselves both as professionals and adults, viewers initially believed they were supposed to relate to and support the characters. That initial disconnect was part of the reason for the much-discussed backlash against the show for reasons relating to nepotism, lack of diversity, unlikable/narcissistic characters, and distaste for the section of society the show is representing.
The second season of the show seems to establish right away that this isn’t a traditionally structured show. Every character, perhaps other than Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet), is supposed to have their flaws be painfully obvious. Hannah is kind of gross in a lot of ways and completely unaware of anything other than herself, Jessa (Jemima Kirke) is a party girl who just isn’t as worldly or malleable as she likes to think she is, Marnie (Allison Williams) is kind of repressed and completely unaware of who she is. Secondary characters on the show are equally as insane, if not moreso. And the stories in every episode teeter on a trainwreck because that’s what the show is built around: These girls aren’t good at life and you should laugh at them and occasionally be moved by their friendship in spite of that.
So why is Girls a show that guys can watch? It’s genuinely funny, much in the same ways the aforementioned Curb or — in a dangerous but perhaps more apt comparison — Louie is. It’s deliberately uncomfortable, ranging from some of the awful sex scenes to Hannah’s horrific wardrobe choices that are the butt of some of the show’s most obvious jokes. It’s edgy, evidenced by an episode in this season that features Hannah trying cocaine to write an article for a new Web site (that still strikes a different chord than an episode in Season One where one character accidentally smokes crack in Bushwick at a hipster party). And when it has a poignant moment, like a confession of love in a subway or a gross shared bathtub moment of friendship.
The most important thing is to get what the show’s going for and always view it through that prism: This is a show teetering on a parody of being a 20something in New York that occasionally has heartfelt moments that are exceedingly well-done. If you take it like that, then it’s a good half-hour of your week every time.
The show just works in a way that a lot of the drek your girlfriend has you watch doesn’t. It’s not Sex and the City and you won’t have to listen to hours of prattling on about whether your girlfriend and her friends are Hannahs or Marnies or Jessas. But it’s an entertaining way to burn half an hour that you can enjoy together. Assuming you can ignore Lena Dunham’s husky 14-year-old boy boobs.