Girls recap – 1×01: ‘Pilot’

Courtesy of HBO

The much hyped and long-awaited new show, Girls, by indie darling Lena Dunham, premiered Sunday night on HBO and it seems like people are losing their shit over it. Welcomed to almost unanimous acclaim, including Executive Producer and Comedy Spiritual Adviser Judd Apatow, there seems to be a lot riding on this little show.

But let’s put all of that aside and really get into it.

Early in the episode we are introduced to Jessa (Jemima Kirke) and Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet). Shoshanna is a big Sex And The City fan, and she has a big movie poster hanging in her apartment. Of course, Shoshanna is supposed to be vapid and obsessed with how people perceive her, which is obviously a slight dig at the other HBO show that centers on a group of ladies.

Well Girls is definitely no Sex And The City.

While the latter focused on ladies in their 30s (and eventually 40s) working and spending money like it was going out of style, Lena Dunham’s version of NYC is much darker and more realistic. While SATC aired during a boom in the American economy, Girls is premiering in the midst of a recession. But the new show isn’t about four downtrodden girls trying to make it in the city of dreams. This is more about four spoiled girls who seem to be stuck in a rut while life happens around them. The show could have easily been called “The Lost Girls” (although perhaps that would have confused people into thinking it was a new vampire show?)

Courtesy of HBO

The opening scene does a really great job of setting up the tone and style of the show. We find our protagonist, Hannah (Dunham), having dinner with her visiting parents only to be told that they will no longer be bankrolling her life in NYC. This is not done to garner pity for Hannah, because she and her friends are not necessarily supposed to be liked. In fact most of them are pretty pathetic. Now basing a show around characters that aren’t very likable can be a difficult sell. But there is more to Hannah than just a spoiled brat and this is where the show wins points (and believe me it needs to).

In this first episode, we learn a lot about Hannah: some of it is distasteful, but mostly it’s interesting and challenging. She is the sort of character you want to yell at through the screen – like the girl in a horror movie who goes upstairs when she hears a sound instead of running outside and screaming like any rational person would do. The scene between her and her dirtbag of a boyfriend, Adam (Adam Driver) is sad, but also revelatory because it really portrays Hannah as someone that is failing at life. Hannah seems to be incapable of winning; from losing her job (in the most pathetic way) to getting high and begging her parents to support her, one thing becomes very clear in this pilot: she is a loser. I do hope some rays of sunshine will peak out as the series progresses because this first episode is a little too dark for its own good. To the point that it’s almost alienating.

The other characters have small introductions, which is okay because Dunham is really great at using dialogue to reveal showcase character. In a short thirty-minute span we were given a lot of information about these ladies, more than some shows reveal in eight episodes (I’m looking at you, GCB!)

Let’s run it down:

Marnie (Allison Williams) is ‘the best friend’ and a little domineering (basically Hannah’s opposite). She’s dating a guy who loves her so much it turns her off.

Hannah: “What does it even feel like to be loved that much?”
Marnie: “I don’t know. I can’t feel it anymore.”

This may be realistic dialogue, but it’s certainly less than endearing for an audience. It’s difficult to relate to someone who clearly has a good thing and doesn’t appreciate it.

Meanwhile, the aforementioned Jessa has returned after a whirlwind trip, and is is now incapable of giving good advice to Hannah (alright). In the first episode we find out she is pregnant, so this could be an interesting storyline. And although Shoshanna is introduced, we don’t really get a good sense of her, but I am sure we will find out more in upcoming episodes.

Now I know most critics are pretty much hailing this as the next great show on television, but I will wait to give it that kind of accolade. The pilot episode left me a little cold, if not at times infuriated (mostly because of Hannah). The show is challenging but I am hoping it will be rewarding in the end. Only time will tell…

What did you think of the show: enjoyably dark or frustratingly not-funny? Did you “relate” to Hannah? Will you continue to watch? Sound off below!

Girls airs Sundays at 10:30pm EST on HBO

3 thoughts on “Girls recap – 1×01: ‘Pilot’

  1. The part of my 20-year-old self that was super pathetic relates to Hannah. And part of my 31-year-old self relates to her (the part about wanting to become who I am during a recession). I agree with you that this glib realism is a bit much, but I’ll watch again to see where the show goes. And if it brings enlightenment or becomes a sharp critique of, say, precarious employment, the spoiled/lost dynamic, or whatever else the writers plan to introduce, then I just might love it!
    (I don’t know why, but I got a Royal Tenenbaums feeling watching Hannah.)

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