(The ten best comedies of 2012 will be revealed on Hulu’s homepage each weekday of this week. To view the rest of the list, click here.)
4 – Girls
Here’s the thing with Girls: It’s for everyone. It’s not not for everyone. You’ve probably been led to believe that. The people who have led you to believe that have not seen the show, or they are telling you something about themselves.
It’s becoming a part-time job to work up brand new, full-throated defenses of this show.
But it shouldn’t be. Because this show is excellent. Most of the objections are what make it one of the best comedies on TV.
I’m not the demo for this show. I’m a guy. I’m a young guy, too, who falls between the two stark categories of men (emotionless hipster handyman; world-class pushover) depicted on this TV show. I also see things in these women that iron permanent wounds straight into my developing and currently stupid soul.
The first, most visibly obvious knock on Girls is its lack of diversity. The closest thing to a non-white American girl on the show is a white American girl who sometimes has a British accent. Critics were quick to point out the omission. It’s not an omission. It’s probably the core of the show.
Hannah and her, um, sisters have no sense of other. In her increasingly impractical quest to become a writer—to tell the truth about herself for a living—she is creating a rigid isolation. Hannah defines herself by the progressively similar people around her and everyone else is the other.
She’s living in a bubble. That’s what this show is about. She has no black friends in Brooklyn and that is a problem and that is intrinsically part of the show. Her inability to cope with or change this part of her identity is the central thesis of the whole thing, and it’s lost on many.
It’s a race and gender issue. The man in Hannah’s life is a mechanical robot who acts out in quick bursts. He doesn’t humanize, he malfunctions, and that prompts her to react like her toaster has just broken.
Again, that’s not a criticism of the show. That’s what the show is about. This is its very aim.
There is, then, the very real criticism that these can often be wholly unlikable people. And that criticism is completely right.
Jessa, the sometimes British friend, is largely an abhorrent, self-centered ex-girlfriend from Hell. She is a grown child who compounds bad decisions on top of other bad decisions until the mountain of terrible choices should leave you with no sympathy for this person whatsoever. She totally sucks.
But then you realize: You know this person. In one way or another, there is a person like this in your life. What you liked about this person has long since passed. She is now a human bad choice. But you support this person regardless for the hope of it being a phase. Once again, she sucks. She is also part of your life.
This person has existed in reality since the dawn of Smiths albums. This person has never existed on TV with this level of clarity and realism.
In truth, most of the people who hate this show embody some of the unflattering characteristics of the characters within it. It’s a funhouse mirror for those donning the hipster malaise.
Look at it this way: There’s no one in the 50-plus set spending their time hating on this show in public.
I’m part of it. Embrace it. Get involved, engrossed in this thing. Eat the pilot alive and you’ll be fine. It’s impossible to stop watching.
At worst, it’s National Geographic with a nice soundtrack. Use it as a handbook of what not to do. And enjoy it. It’s one of the better shows you can’t watch on TV. It cuts so deep. And it’s one of the better shows you can watch on TV, for the same exact reason.