Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Terrence Malick's Next Film With Ryan Gosling, Rooney Mara & Michael Fassbender Reportedly Gets Titled Terrence Malick's Next Film With Ryan Gosling, Rooney Mara & Michael Fassbender Reportedly Gets Titled Watch: Jake Gyllenhaal Gets Bloody And Bruised In First Trailer For Boxing Drama 'Southpaw' Watch: Jake Gyllenhaal Gets Bloody And Bruised In First Trailer For Boxing Drama 'Southpaw' New Infographic Lays Out Canonical 'Star Wars' Timeline With Films, TV And Books New Infographic Lays Out Canonical 'Star Wars' Timeline With Films, TV And Books First Official Image: Jesse Eisenberg As Lex Luthor In 'Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice' First Official Image: Jesse Eisenberg As Lex Luthor In 'Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice' Watch: First Trailer For Arnold Schwarzenegger's Zombie Pic 'Maggie' With Abigail Breslin Watch: First Trailer For Arnold Schwarzenegger's Zombie Pic 'Maggie' With Abigail Breslin Idris Elba Replaces Jamie Foxx In Harmony Korine's 'The Trap,' Al Pacino, Robert Pattinson, James Franco Also Join Idris Elba Replaces Jamie Foxx In Harmony Korine's 'The Trap,' Al Pacino, Robert Pattinson, James Franco Also Join 10 Terrible Films Starring Great Actors 10 Terrible Films Starring Great Actors Watch: Tom Hanks Acts Out His Filmography In 7-Minutes On 'The Late Late Show' Watch: Tom Hanks Acts Out His Filmography In 7-Minutes On 'The Late Late Show' Watch: Trailer For 'Fifty Shades Of Grey' Unrated Blu-Ray Edition, Will Also Feature An Alternate Ending Watch: Trailer For 'Fifty Shades Of Grey' Unrated Blu-Ray Edition, Will Also Feature An Alternate Ending New Directors/New Films Review: Jia Zhang-ke Produced 'K' Is A New Take On Franz Kafka's 'The Castle' New Directors/New Films Review: Jia Zhang-ke Produced 'K' Is A New Take On Franz Kafka's 'The Castle' Viggo Mortensen Reveals He Turned Down Quentin Tarantino's 'The Hateful Eight,' Auditioned For 'Reservoir Dogs' Viggo Mortensen Reveals He Turned Down Quentin Tarantino's 'The Hateful Eight,' Auditioned For 'Reservoir Dogs' Watch: First Teaser Trailer For 'Mission: Impossible: Rogue Nation' With Tom Cruise Arrives, If You Choose To Accept It Watch: First Teaser Trailer For 'Mission: Impossible: Rogue Nation' With Tom Cruise Arrives, If You Choose To Accept It Jonathan Nolan Says His Original Ending To 'Interstellar' Was “Much More Straightforward” Jonathan Nolan Says His Original Ending To 'Interstellar' Was “Much More Straightforward” The 50 Best Films Of The Decade So Far The 50 Best Films Of The Decade So Far The 25 Best Films Of 2015 We've Already Seen The 25 Best Films Of 2015 We've Already Seen Best Of 2014: The 15 Best Movie Soundtracks Of 2014 Best Of 2014: The 15 Best Movie Soundtracks Of 2014 The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More

Recap: Season Premiere Of 'Girls' A Confident, Funny Start For Lena Dunham's Series

Photo of Kevin Jagernauth By Kevin Jagernauth | The Playlist April 15, 2012 at 11:02PM

Update: Viewers on the U.S. can now watch the pilot episode of "Girls" on YouTube without an HBO subscription. Unembeddable, but watch here.
2
Girls

Update: Viewers on the U.S. can now watch the pilot episode of "Girls" on YouTube without an HBO subscription. Unembeddable, but watch here.

Generally speaking, comedies don't arrive on the small screen fully formed, and often take some time to find and establish their voice and tone. Just look at the first seasons for shows like "Seinfeld," "The Simpsons" or the American version of "The Office." Those initial episodes, while showing flashes of the best they would have to offer, are uneven, with characters still taking shape, jokes missing as often as they land and the overall architecture still being built. But the remarkable thing in watching the premiere episode of Lena Dunham's "Girls" is how confidently it struts out of the gate, and how fully structured it seems right from the start.

The bulk of the season premiere -- which stretches just over the half-hour mark -- as expected, sets up the characters we'll be spending time with over the season. As the show opens, Hannah (Dunham) is told by her parents (the always excellent Becky Ann Baker and a hilariously emasculated Peter Scolari) that they will no longer be supporting her financially while she interns in New York City, as she tries to finish her book. She breaks the news to her roommate Marnie (Allison Williams) who is currently evaluating her feelings for hey boyfriend Charlie (Christopher Abbott) whose overwhelming sensitivity and love is turning her off.

While some pretty flimsy comparisons have been made to "Sex & The City," it's with the introduction of the bubbly Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet) and her British cousin Jessa (Jemima Kirke) that Dunham puts those to rest. An almost obnoxiously huge fan of 'SATC,' Shoshanna describes herself as a "Carrie at heart" with a mix of Samantha and a bit of Miranda. As for Jessa? She's never even heard of the show or seen it. And it's in this back and forth, which humorously ribs a generation of women who identify with those characters, that "Girls" firmly announces this is not just 'SATC' for twentysomethings.

And if that sequence doesn't do it, then Hannah's date with her semi-boyfried Adam (Adam Driver) does. Where 'SATC' presented sexual encounters as wild, nearly soft porn escapades, here it's a bit uncomfortable, slightly unsatisfying and takes place on a thrift store sofa. Adam's apartment is half bachelor pad, half workspace, and while his brutal honesty makes him kind of a dick, there is no question that Hannah knows exactly the kind of person he is (to a point: he routinely disappears for weeks at time without answering her calls or texts and she isn't quite sure what he does for money, aside from the $800/month he gets from his grandmother). So it's not exactly surprisingly that when it comes to fucking, Adam casually tries to introduce anal sex, only to be firmly rebuffed, making the rest of the already awkward encounter even worse. But the remarkable thing is that where 'SATC' would have build a whole episode around this issue, Dunham knows in real life, lots of couples don't talk about it, prefering to sweep those moments under the rug and return to the preset and accepted established routine.

And while there is something to admire in Hannah's confidence in the bedroom, dictating what is acceptable and what isn't, when it comes to her own self-image and even her own life, that quality is missing. As the episode opens, she refers to herself as a "fat pig model" and tells Charlie to "avert your eyes." And the show closes, in a funny, yet touching way, with a desperate, opium-fueled final plea to her parents to keep her financial lifeline going, which winds up with Hannah writhing on the floor, imploring her Mom and Dad, "Don't look at me." This self-doubt will be Hannah's biggest obstacle to overcome as she enters the search for a new job (after she is effectively let go from her intern position for asking for a salary) and navigates the unbalanced relationship she has with Adam.

In putting the pieces into play, the first episode doesn't leave a cliffhanger as much as a few strong plot threads that will unfold over the next few episodes. We learn that Jessa is possibly pregnant, wonder if Marnie will break up with Charlie and the final shot is of Hannah striding into the faceless maw of Manhattan as she looks to regain her footing having both her finances and her job pulled out from under her. It's a strong start, both fresh and funny, with characters charmingly flawed and real. "Girls" is one to watch. [A]

Songs featured in the episode: Camera Obscura "French Navy"; Betty Davis "Shoo B Doop And Cop Him"; MGMT "Time To Pretend"; Feist "I Feel It All"; Jay-Z ft. Swizz Beats "On To The Next One" and Harper Simon "Wishes And Stars" (over the closing credits).

This article is related to: Girls, Lena Dunham, TV Reviews


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


Check out Indiewire on LockerDome on LockerDome

E-Mail Updates