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Why Girls Still Matters in Season 2

by Kerensa Cadenas
January 14, 2013 12:27 PM
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Last night was a huge lady-centric night for television with the delightful Tina Fey and Amy Poehler hosting the Golden Globes, the premiere of season two of the criminally underwatched Enlightened starring a terrific Laura Dern (PLEASE WATCH THIS SHOW) and, as I’m sure you’ve seen from the posters, billboards and magazine ads -- season two of Girls also premiered.

A show that could be described as divisive, Girls created a cultural maelstrom, spawning tons (at times correct) criticism ranging from the lack of diversity on the show to those painfully awkward sex scenes.  Dunham, herself, has been simultaneously celebrated and ravaged in the media with television critics loving the show, feminists loving her body-positive attitude, to jerks like Howard Stern calling her “a little fat girl,” and claims of nepotism for her successes.

While it’s easy to write off Dunham’s work because she’s young, white and rich—doing so is a simplistic, feminist-policing act—because Dunham’s work is well-done and important to the media landscape. Yes, Girls is not representative of a generation of millenials and yes it could be much more race/class conscious (although Dunham has taken this criticism and incorporated into season two) but it still is a woman-created, woman-centric portrayal of young women struggling to figure out who they are. At times they aren’t likeable, their bodies aren’t perfect and the sex is awkward. But they are real, flawed, complex female characters—ones we desperately need on television.

Clearly, there is a demand and desire for these kinds of women on television. As of late, Los Angeles (and I assume even more so in New York) has been littered with billboards, buses and benches with Dunham’s face on them. I even went to a “surprise” party thrown by Flavorpill and HBO to celebrate the new season. It had an open bar, cupcakes and a special screening of last night’s season 2 premiere. And it was packed. People (the audience was mostly female) were sitting on each other so they could be in the room where the episode was shown. During the episode itself, there was screaming, cheering, gasping and a huge round of clapping at the end.

Girls satiates a thirst for a certain kind of show that women -- both young and old -- didn’t realize they needed until they saw it. It also in both good and bad ways garners conversation about a variety of issues—race, class, feminism, body image, the dismal economy, among others mostly filtered through the rabid bloodlust of the internet. The fact that we have a 26-year-old woman creating her own content for women of her age group that is also creating conversation and simultaneously influencing media is important.  Networks are recognizing the growing importance of having women created and centric content. Within the last several months, a good amount of television development news has been dominated by women.  And during the TCA’s these past two weeks, the importance of having a women audience was stressed upon in multiple panels.

The first episode of season two (which I’ll also be recapping weekly for Bitch), plays upon many of the tropes that the show became notorious for—extremely awkward relationship and sexual encounters, being unsure of your next step and complicated friendships. However, it also feels as if the show has hit its stride. It is apparent that Dunham has taken critiques and incorporated them into the fabric of the show—which makes it stronger.  Also the characters (with the exception of Jessa, thus far) are put in new places in their lives, allowing for more complex character growth.  If this first episode is any indication, I think we are in for another excellent season of television—one that will enrage some -- but we're thinking the love will win out.

Girls airs Sundays at 9pm on HBO.

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More: Girls, Lena Dunham, Feminism, Women Writers

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  • JaySmack | January 21, 2013 11:46 PMReply

    So, all the blatant racism of the show and it's creators both on and off camera is just "flawed?" Ridiculous. The tenor of your fluff piece is obvious: who cares how nauseatingly offensive the show is just watch it.
    Forget it. I look forward to the ever-tumbling ratings for this obscene waste of air and her sickening cohorts.

  • Michael Medeiros | January 15, 2013 10:56 AMReply

    This show definitely fills a need. If I were 26 I'd be watching it to figure out who I was dealing with. In the upcoming feature, Tiger Lily Road, the girls have all grown up (and then some). There's a short promo on youtube at tigerlilyroad.

  • Kathy | January 14, 2013 5:08 PMReply

    I haven't seen Girls yet, but am wondering if the women in the show are doing any feminist activism. Are they agitating for equal pay legislation, do they call out men and other women when they use male chauvinistic language . . . ? For me, a film isn't really feminist unless I see the lead characters doing women's rights activism. It looks like Girls was influenced by feminism, but are the characters doing any activism or are they just grappling with life in a 21st century patriarchy?

  • Al | January 18, 2013 1:18 PM

    I agree and disagree. I don't think that Dunham needs to be an "activist" when it comes to feminism. Her show is a form of activism in that it portrays truth about "girls" and women as opposed to stereotypes. But she certainly needs to pay attention to who she works with. Recently she worked with Terry Richardson, a photographer infamous for sexually harassing and exploiting female clients. It's disappointing to me that she would work with someone like that.

  • Alan B | January 18, 2013 12:49 AM

    "For me, a film isn't really feminist unless I see the lead characters doing women's rights activism." You have a very limited view of art and entertainment.

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