HBO’s Girls is Reality-Check TV

The millennials take Manhattan: Sex and the City without the orgasms. By Gail Shister

I love girls. I also love Girls. The two are not mutually exclusive, at least so far. Massively hyped before its April 15th launch, HBO’s estrogen-rich comedy had been dubbed Sex and the City for twentysomethings, and its creator Lena Dunham anointed the voice of her generation.

No pressure.

Then came the backlash. How could a comedy set in New York have an all-white cast? Why would anyone care about four privileged brats whose vacuous lives include depressing, emotionless sex?

Both sides were right. Both sides were wrong.

Admittedly, Girls‘ premise is derivative: a quartet of female friends in New York City explore sex, adulthood and the meaning of life, in no particular order. Think Sex and the City: The Gen Y Years. Even the characters are equivalent.

Dunham’s Hannah, a neurotic writer, is Carrie, minus the wardrobe and orgasms. Marnie (Allison Williams), Hannah’s roommate and best friend, is Miranda. She has a serious job and a serious boyfriend, neither of which she likes.

Jessa (Jemima Kirke), an unapologetically promiscuous Brit, is Samantha. She returns to New York to move in with her cousin, Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet), an NYU student and manic virgin. We’ll call her Charlotte because Charlotte’s the only one left.

That’s where the comparisons end. Unlike the Sex and the City‘s quartet, Girls‘ girls struggle to make the rent. (In the pilot, Hannah’s parents, both university professors, drop her from the payroll and she freaks.) Their apartments are not glamorous. They are all, to varying degrees, overeducated underachievers.

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