Lena Dunham's Girls on HBO
On April 15, HBO premiered its new comedy series Girls, written by and featuring the talented Lena Dunham. I had the pleasure of watching her debut feature film Tiny Furniture a couple of months ago. If that is any indicator of what Girls will be like, then I'm positive this is a show for me - and I highly recommend you tune in as well. HBO has been making good comedies, but they haven't been very commercially successful. Bored to Death was cancelled, despite its rave reviews. This particular TV watcher very much enjoyed the series, even if it at times failed to live up to its own high comedic standards.
Lena Dunham is a young, relatively recent college-graduate who is very savvy and intelligent, or so she comes off this way in Tiny Furniture. So I'm looking forward to what she's put together for us for her television debut. (I saw the premiere and reviewed it here.)
Women in the Movies and Popular Television
In other single female media - I recently watched Whit Stillman's early 90s film Last Days of Disco. I'm a big Chloe Sevigny fan, so any opportunity to see her at work is one I take. There's also Kate Beckinsale, who has a smaller role than you would think and who is as annoying and plain as she is in everything else. And then a bunch of 90s male actors who came and went and some still linger on in television (like the talented but limited Robert Sean Leonard, who plays Wilson on House). It was nice to see Chloe alongside actor Matt Ross, as they recently played tense siblings in HBO's Big Love. They've come a long way from playing frustrated city singles "looking for love." I enjoyed LDD but it often bored me. It's a modestly funny movie that fails to offer a strong set of characters. The lead in Chloe is strong but the rest falter. And it tries to ambitiously trace the development of a "young professional" woman and her acquaintances, but only manages to reveal little bits and pieces of what single life might be like for someone like Chloe - whom she might encounter, job successes, etc.
But there are such few movies and television series centered on women, that it's a relief to be able to watch something like this, while anticipating something like the upcoming Girls. With Mad Men back, it's a reminder that the majority of "great" television is about powerful, complex men - while of course revealing their weaknesses and eventual downfall. TV bloggers and reviewers went crazy early on in the television season over the increasing amount of female comedies like New Girl and Two Broke Girls. I have never watched the latter but the former, featuring a sweet and cutesy but still funny Zooey Deschanel (she's an acquired taste), is a male-fest, centered around a group of three male friends and the hipster girl who invades their comfy, egoist living situation. But "invades" is too rough; she gently lands and entertains, without really changing or transforming the dynamic. So it's still essentially a sausage-fest. Girls will be completely different. It might be the male version of Bored to Death, which was also a sausage-fest, albeit a very soft, still-in-womb one.
BAM is now holding a film retrospective around "female" movies. I'm not sure the exact goal of the series, but I saw that they were playing The Craft. And a smile spread across my face, because I loved The Craft. I remember when it came out, that I couldn't legally see it because it was R-rated, but that I rented it as soon as it came out on video. I myself was involved in witchcraft (don't hold it against me), so it was fun to watch how these girls used it within a high school setting, in a crazy story of family drama, friendship, and, of course, sex. The resident stud was Skeet Ulrich, who played the sexy killer / boyfriend in Scream, also starring Neve Campbell. Anyway, I recommend the movie if you're a middle school girl who wants two hours to forget the "real world" and indulge in a highly-prohibited viewing experience. It's not graphic or anything - it just implies and suggests... a lot.
A memory just came to me: my dad bringing home a neon-sign reading "Girls Rule." He thought my sister and I would love it; we just rolled our eyes and asked him where he picked up such trash. It sat for many years on a circular table in the dining room we never used for eating (but more for gift-wrapping and brief screaming-fights). And then one day I came home from college, and it was no longer there.
So I see this HBO series a bit like the alternative to the other networks' "Girls Rule" sign brought home by a clueless but sincere father. With Ms. Dunham as the writer, I think it will be good. But make sure to watch it so it stays on air!