Contains some spoilers.
Season three of HBO’s acclaimed series “Girls” starts Sunday, so what better way to get ready for the premiere than to look back at lessons learned from previous seasons?
I know what you’re thinking. What lessons? “Girls” is often criticized for portraying a group of privileged, selfish 20-somethings, and that’s accurate. You’re not supposed to like these characters all the time. Lena Dunham admits that Hannah, Marnie, Jessa and Shoshanna all have their flaws, but that’s what makes them interesting.
Plus, can you name a show that you like because you truly enjoy and relate to the characters? Some of my favorite series showcase the most unlikeable people. Take “Shameless” for example. Frank is a drunk, deadbeat dad. He spends more time at the bar than at home. His favorite hobby is using people. Or Maggie on “The Newsroom.” Her crazed mannerisms bug the crap out of me. Don’t even get me started on Dana from “Homeland.”
For all of the criticism Dunham has received since the “Girls’” 2012 premiere, I think she’s doing something important. She’s part of a larger conversation about women in their 20s. Does she really think she’s the voice of our generation? I don’t believe so, yet that’s a line that people tend to cling to. Might I remind you that it’s Hannah, a character, that spoke those words when she was high on opium and begging her parents not to cut her off.
As for Dunham, I appreciate that she not only has opinions but shares them. She’s intelligent, well-articulated and hardly ever shies away from controversy. It doesn’t mean you have to agree with her but at least she has the gumption to put her ideas out there and start a healthy dialogue. There’s something to be said for that and more to learn from her unfiltered interpretation of millennial women.
“I’m a growing girl,” are the first words we hear out of Hannah’s mouth over dinner. It’s fitting. Her “appetite” is in question throughout the pilot episode. The series commences with Hannah enjoying a meal with her parents when they tell her she’s cut off. No more “footing the bill for her groovy lifestyle.” The next day at her internship she tells her boss she can no longer work for free, expecting she’ll receive a full-time job offer. Instead he says she’ll be missed.
“Well, when you get hungry enough, you’re gonna figure it out.” “Do you mean like physically hungry? Or like hungry for the job?”
Unemployed and living in New York, Hannah calculates she can last for three-and-a-half more days, maybe seven if she doesn’t eat lunch. Survival of the fittest in the city. It may seem harsh, but when you have zero income and no safety net, you push yourself and figure out what you need to do. Hunger is a good thing.
Everyone has baggage
It may not be public knowledge, but everyone you know carries around baggage. Sometimes we get so bogged down in our own problems, we don’t realize that we all have them.
In this hilarious scene from season one, Shosh dishes on her littlest, medium and biggest baggage with Hannah, but season two is where we actually see all the characters’ biggest baggage come to light:
- Hannah’s OCD returns in full force during the anxiety-ridden writing of her book.
- Adam’s dark, alcoholic past damages a new relationship.
- Ray, 33 and homeless, questions his career at the coffee shop.
- Jessa’s rushed marriage ends in divorce.
- Marnie is fired. Ironically, her ex Charlie strikes gold with a mobile app startup.
- Shoshanna finds love and consequently finds a way to screw it up.
Words (and dick pics) carry weight
In season one, Ray and Charlie raid the girls’ apartment while they’re out, rifling through (and getting grossed out by) their underwear drawers, when Ray discovers Hannah’s journal. Charlie, kind and unassuming, tells Ray not to read it but Ray can’t resist the temptation.
Filled with her interpretation of her best friend’s relationship—Hannah describes Marnie as being stuck in a prison of Charlie’s kindness:
“Just because someone is kind doesn’t mean they’re right. Better to end it now, cut off the limb and let the stump heal. He’ll find someone else—someone who appreciates his kind of smothering love.”
As you can guess, this doesn’t go over well with Charlie and results in the end of his relationship with Marnie…for some time at least.
As for Hannah, she’s delighted when Adam sends her a dick pic, only to have him text her again that it wasn’t meant for her.
Remember that words, and oddly enough dick pics, carry weight, power, and often the truth. Think before you say or do, but don’t hold back the truth.
Find yourself, but don’t forget your friends along the way
Your 20s are about figuring things out and exploring your passions, but they’re also about making mistakes and the inevitable disappointments. We all need quality friends that will leave judgement at the door and be by your side when you need them most. Work on those relationships. Never take your friends for granted.
Hannah, Jessa, Shoshanna and Marnie all have their problems but deep down they would do anything for each other. Jobs and boyfriends may come and go, but you can’t replace good friends.
Different definitions of love exist
It may sound cliche, but nothing is ever black and white. If there’s one thing we consistently see on “Girls” (other than Hannah’s boobs), it’s contrasting definitions of love.
We experience Charlie and Marnie’s safe, stagnant love; Hannah and Adam’s unusual, aggressive love; the spontaneous love and marriage of Thomas-John and Jessa; Ray and Shosh’s heartbreaking love; and the honest love between friends.
Crack is whack
So what can you expect in season three’s Sunday premiere? Spoiler Alert: a sad, single and broken Marnie, Jessa in rehab, an extra superficial Shoshanna and surprisingly, Hannah seemingly in a good place. We’ll see how long that lasts.
(Images via http://girlshbo.tumblr.com/)