Caryn James

'Girls,' Season 2: Where Does Lena Dunham End and Hannah Begin?

  • By Caryn James
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  • January 8, 2013 9:01 AM
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  • 1 Comment
With the ultra-sharp new season of Girls,  I finally understand – though I don’t agree with – the Lena Dunham backlash. For all I know, in real life she’s perfectly likable. But her character, Hannah, is the most squirm-inducing character on television. Hannah’s total self-absorption (as if the world should be interested) and defiantly strong self-image is combined with its reverse: the cringingly bad self-image her bravado masks, and utterly self-destructive relationships. Who would want to be this whiny mess’ friend? But Dunham plays her so convincingly that the distance  between herself and Hannah seems to vanish – which is especially weird, considering that Dunham is the writer/director/actor/ and Judd Apatow protegee with a  reported $3.5 million book deal and Hannah is a struggling, post-college mess.

'Downton Abbey,' The Middle Class and Money ('Ya Gotta Spend It on Somethin' ')

  • By Caryn James
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  • January 3, 2013 9:01 AM
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  • 1 Comment
Season 3 of Downton Abbey – as soapy, dramatic and witheringly funny as ever, and at times shatteringly sad – begins in the spring of 1920, and everything now has a whiff of the modern. Daisy the kitchen maid rides a bike through the village, Mary and Matthew are planning their wedding, Anna is determined to find the evidence that will free Bates from prison, and in the midst of all that comes the real bombshell. Lord Grantham has made a very bad investment, losing most of his American wife’s fortune; they may have to put Downton on the market. Viewers caught in the 2008 economic crisis can relate.

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