I was really looking forward to “Girls,” the highly touted new HBO series created by Lena Dunham, whose quirky independent film Tiny Pictures won raves from the critics and charmed me, too; although I thought the praise for the picture was a bit overblown, I wanted to love the show. But it turns out that I can’t .
I can’t love Hannah. I can’t even like her. She’s not only charmless, she’s aimless, which isn’t surprising, given the leisurely pace at which many of her peers make their way toward adulthood, searching for their identity. And like many of them – especially educated, privileged twenty-somethings – she is entitled. In the first episode, she’s stunned when her parents inform her they’re no longer going to subsidize that leisurely pace, despite the fact that Hannah is willing to downscale the life they’ve been supporting her in since college and try to get by on $1100 a month for a couple more years while she finishes her novel(which thus far seems to amount to a title page and paragraph.) In the second show, she’s equally surprised when her boss at a publishing company isn’t willing to turn her lengthy unpaid internship into a real job, much less read what she plans to show him as soon as it’s a bit further along. In the third episode, she lets her nice but creepy boss feel her up; I confess to wondering if this is a set-up for later in the series, when she blames her parents for insisting that she get a job, even one that requires her to submit to sexual harrassment. And in the fourth (which will be my final show even if it’s not hers), she exhibits a degree of ignorance about sexually transmitted diseases that’s not only frightening but astounding in an educated 23 year old woman in 2012 – and to which, in re-runs and public statements, HBO should append a retraction.
What’s most appalling, though, is the way Hannah allows herself to be used and abused sexually and emotionally by her wretched boyfriend, how desperate she is for something she doesn’t even appear to be enjoying (hardly surprising given the awkward, unerotic couplings portrayed thus far) with someone who doesn’t seem to care a whit about her. He is as charmless as Hannah, and seems to suffer from the same symptoms of borderline personality she exhibits, especially the combination of hubris and self-hatred, grandiosity and insecurity.
Hannah and her creator have been widely hailed as the voice of her generation. As a mother, grandmother and feminist, I certainly hope not.