Television review: Girls

November 26, 2012 – Am I cheating if I review a series that hasn’t been on television (except through Comcast’s On Demand) since June?

“Girls” premiered on HBO in April, and I tuned into the first episode with high hopes back then because the cable channel rarely lets me down. After 10 minutes, I knew the show wasn’t for me and I never gave it another try.

The premise seemed interesting enough; four twenty-something girls trying to make it in the big city. Most critics liked the realism quality it offered, calling it a younger version of another HBO hit, “Sex and the City,” a show that I found entertaining, though far from reality.

Granted, I’m not the demographic HBO hopes to win over with “Girls”. But if this show is the reality of a young twenty-something, as the doctor says when treating the main character for an STD in episode one, “You couldn’t pay me enough to be 24 again.”

Then it happened. In lieu of shopping on Friday – which I always avoid – I planned to settle down with a television marathon and relax. My remote control wandered to HBO, where I discovered I was up-to-date on everything else, and I quickly decided to give “Girls” another try. Worse case scenario, it was only nine more episodes, or 4.5 hours of my time on a day I planned for nothing anyway.

Surprisingly, I liked the remaining episodes more than the first, but I still can’t call myself a fan. Just as I observed in the first episode, these girls seemed spoiled, relatively stupid and unlikable. The characters are self-absorbed and narcissistic, and even if they are written that way purposely, it’s difficult for me to like a movie or television show unless I care about something.

Still, I forged on and watched to the end, so that must say something. I’ve read reviews where critics have lauded the show for its raw nature, humor, and refreshing tone, and I began to wonder what I was missing. Reading the actresses bios on IMDB entertained me more than watching them play their characters. These “girls” can act well enough, but by the end of the first few episodes, I remained in a fog.

Be patient, I told myself. Overlook their bad qualities and try to find something redeeming about them. After all, we’re all pretty stupid in our youth. We make mistakes with jobs, relationships, friendships and all life’s decisions, which are exactly what this show tries to portray – in a humorous way. In reality, however, I don’t think my friends were ever that stupid or self-absorbed, or made as many mistakes with relationships, jobs and friendships as these girls do. OK, maybe I’ll take that last part back.

The positive quality about this show is that the episodes are fairly well written. The dialogue can be clever and the storylines amusing, but then something happens out of the blue that looks like it’s there just to shock whoever is watching. The episodes are written and directed by series creator Lena Duhman, who possesses talent, but too often relied on the shock factor, a cheap shot in my option, perhaps thrown in just because you can get away with it on HBO.

Here’s an example; how many parties have you been to where a young girl walks around for most of the night topless? I’ve been to some over-the-top parties in my day where crazy things have happened, but that’s a new one on me. It’s not a new one on HBO, though. “Sex and the City” had a show dealing with the same shirtless topic, and every other week, women sit around the house topless on “Boardwalk Empire”, but at least they are in a brothel. Perhaps it’s an HBO requirement.

After nine more episodes, I never empathized with any of these characters. I wanted to scream at them for their stupidity, scold them for never learning, and lecture them for making the poor choices they continued to make, which I can’t find entertaining in the least.

Does this mean I won’t invest my time in season two when it begins next spring?

It depends. Sometimes, like a twenty something girl, I still have to torture myself.

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