I love the show Girls. I told you about it in June and I still love it. I think it's awesomely funny, raw, and entertaining. The fact that it's written, directed, and produced by a 26-year-old girl woman who also stars in it is just the icing on the cake. I am so intrigued by Lena Dunham, in fact, that I used vacation time to attend a screening of her movie, Tiny Furniture, along with a Q&A with her and her mom, the artist Laurie Simmons, last week at the MFA in Boston. While I wasn't as taken with her movie as I am with her show, it was fun to be part of the intimate gathering.
Since Girls has become more popular in its second season, it's also become the center of an evergrowing maelstrom of emotion. Check out the entertainment blogs, even just the regular blogs, on a Monday after pretty much any episode and you're going to read comments written by folks who hate Hannah Horvath/Lena Dunham so intensely that they spew venom at her every chance they get. They even use her real name and her character's name interchangeably making the reader wonder if the commenter is so caught up in the root of their feeling that they are confused by the fact that this character, is just that - a fictitious character.
It's sad, really.
This past Sunday was a particularly "inflammatory" episode in which Hannah - not to be confused with her more polished, shabby-chic real-life alter ego, Lena - has a whirlwind affair (and by affair I mean tons of hot sex) with an older, hotter man. How she meets him is irrelevant but she goes on an instinct, makes the first move (confident women of the world, unite!) and proceeds to spend much time in her splendid, naked, glory with this buff, angular, rich guy, having hours of what is probably unpolished, dirty, sexy, sex.
Hannah Horvath is no Claudia Schiffer, she would probably be the first to admit it. Which is why I feel empowered as part of the non-Claudia Schiffer-women's club when a woman, deemed by society as less than perfect, gets naked (aka vulnerable) on TV. She even (GASP!) seems comfortable in her own skin! With a rich, hot guy no less! Isn't he grossed out by her imperfect abs? Her out of place brown hair? Her thighs that touch?
And all I could think was that I wish I had a quarter of Hannah's self-confidence when I was in my 20s. I wish it hadn't taken the better part of thirty-something years to focus more on being in the moment and less on how I look in the moment. I wish I'd learned far earlier on that if two people are naked together and one is worrying about flabby thighs or wavy arms, they're probably ALONE in their thoughts cuz the other person is probably thinking - laid! I'm getting laid! Especially true if you a heterosexual woman.
The haters hated. Slate writer David Haglund said, "I like when writers and directors push us to empathize with characters who are not likable—but then you have to make those characters interesting. This episode somehow put a hard-to-like character in a hard-to-believe situation which also, frankly, was pretty dull."
Haglund is certainly entitled his opinion - if he finds Hannah hard to like, that's his prerogative. One that I can't contest since I'm not experiencing the show in the shoes of a 40-something year old man. However...
Hannah is nothing if not interesting. She'll pretty much do anything for a story (a writer!) including take a cocaine-fueled journey through clubland with her gay ex-boyfriend, and is as adventurous as any character. But the real question I have for Haglund is, why is this situation so hard to believe? Is it because Hannah is an average looking woman who makes a move on a 40-something year old rich, hot man? Or because this average woman had the confidence to go get 'em?
Is David Haglund secretly an average woman who has been rejected by hot, older men therefore lending credit to his words? Or is he a hot, older guy who rejects all average women (I think not. Just sayin'.) Hey David, men, even the good looking ones, dig confidence. It's a thing. Really.
I''ve seen Twitter steams and Facebook pages that call Hannah out as a vapid narcissist (along with anyone who enjoys the show. Hold on while I grab my tissues - not), a loser, gross, wrong, and just about every other negative adjective stirred up by our wonderful society crawling with perfect creatures.
Before watching the episode, which did, I admit, involve lots of jiggly boobie shots and a not-flat stomach, I saw Facebook status updates saying, "don't eat while watching Girls," and "Girls made me hurl" (who's vapid now!). And when I got around to watching the episode on Tuesday (it's been a busy week and my DVR betrayed me), I called back to my memory where I had seen these updates and low and behold my mind did go there. I thought, man, I sure as hell wouldn't want to see you naked.
Or maybe I was just offended that even the very ordinary people that I associate myself with are part of this elitist group that would never want to look at anyone imperfect - or real - on TV. And it made me sad. And it made me defensive. Because in spite of my brilliant writing (hehe), I am part of the 99% of us that are imperfect. In many, many ways.
So maybe this is why I love Hannah Horvath (Lena Dunham seemed cool, too, though I don't know her as well so hard for me to judge). Hannah is the every women (in their 20s). She's not gorgeously stunning or impossibly perfect. She's just who she is and to me, real beats perfect ANY day.