Tuesday, January 14, 2014

On "Girls"

I read this article today about HBO's "Girls," called "Why Adam from HBO's "Girls" Is a Borderline Abusive Love Interest." It's a really accurate title! Adam is terrible. I did question some of the author's points, however, such as this one:
I think it's pretty problematic to have a show portray a guy like Adam as the protagonist of the show like Girls [sic] romantic hero. We see a ton of borderline abusive relationships on television, but often these relationships aren't glamorized or idealized in the way that Hannah and Adam's is. ... Girls tends to skew toward realism, and whether or not you relate to Hannah and her friends isn't really as important as whether the show wants you to - and the show definitely wants you to if you're a struggling 20-something.
 I responded,
I agree with you that Adam is a terrible person and partner! But I would counter that the show DOES want you to see Adam as creepy and dangerous. Because we mostly see "Girls" through Hannah's lens and we know that she is a messed up and unreliable narrator, we are meant to immediately question her statement that Adam is a "great boyfriend." 
I am a 20-something and I am drawn to "Girls" because it represents the worst bits of my 20-something experience. Train wrecks are fascinating, especially train wrecks that speak to your life. Even as I empathize with the characters in "Girls" and see myself in each of them to some degree, I am repulsed. I don't know if it's the intention of "Girls" and Lena Dunham to wean me off my bad behaviors/bad decisions with aversion therapy, but maybe it is. It's definitely meant to be a dark and pointed commentary on the way we 20-somethings live our lives. 
I don't think that we are actually supposed to like or trust any of the characters on "Girls," even if we feel some tenderness toward them. Like you said, the show strives for realism. Real life is not always cute or safe and it doesn't always make good or clear-cut choices. I think "Girls" tries, in some sense, to clue us in to that.
What do you think? Is "Girls" aware of its problematic characters - Adam especially - and means for the audience to recognize that they're messed up, or does the show sincerely romanticize an abusive relationship?

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