It is a programme for women disillusioned with the slick image sold to them by "Sex and the City"by Lucinda Smyth / February 20, 2017 / Leave a comment
“I don’t give a shit about anything, yet I simultaneously have an opinion on everything, even topics I’m not informed about,” says Hannah Horvath, the protagonist of HBO’s Girls, in the first episode of the sixth and final season. If Hannah has ever summed herself up in a sentence, then this might be it. Narcissistic, flippant, witty, and cripplingly self-aware, Hannah (Lena Dunham) is an embodiment of the “millennial” temperament. She has high expectations, dwindling self-esteem, and no salary. She wants to have her voice heard, even if she has nothing to say. In an environment where opinions abound freely on the internet, she struggles to find work that either pays or satisfies, and so channels her energies into doing “writerly” things instead.
In the first five seasons, audiences watched as Hannah blundered her way through her twenties: sticking an earbud all the way into her cochlea, making (rebuffed) advances on her gropey boss, teaching Philip Roth to twelve-year-olds, and dancing in public in a see-through yellow mesh vest. Six series later—the first episode of the final one aired last Monday—Hannah is still up to the same tricks. She remains relentlessly entertaining—and Girls is still brilliantly funny television. But she is also sickening, and her behaviour often makes her a difficult character to watch.
The same thing might be said of Girls as a show. With its abundance of grimy nudity, blasé swearing and egotism, Dunham’s sitcom is not always an easy jaunt—even if the laughs make it worth the discomfort. When it first aired in 2012, Girls caused shockwaves for its unapologetic portrayal of twenty-first century femininity and privilege. The four central characters were all largely unlikeable. Criminally for a show about women, they didn’t even seem to like each other much. “It’s not like I’m interested in anything they have to say either,” says Hannah, after her boyfriend Adam complains about her “uninteresting” friends coming for dinner. “That’s basically the point of friendship.”
Stumped for a predecessor, critics initially looked to Sex and The City: another “zeitgeisty” HBO sitcom about women in New York. But the comparison falls wide of the mark. Girls is, if anything, an anti-Sex and The City. Where the SATC aesthetic was notoriously glitzy, inGirls clothes are patchy and piecemeal—set stylist Jenn Rogien has said that she tailored Hannah’s costumes to look “ill-fitted.” Where sex was often glamorous and (at least) hygienic in the…