TV Talk: GIRLS 1.02 “Vagina Panic”
Last week, Meredith launched our Girls TV Talk with a thoughtful introduction to the show and an admission that she and I are totally not as close as we thought we were. Because, Meredith, I do love you, but I would never, ever, EVER take a bath with you like Hannah and Marnie. Unless we were both in our bathing suits, and there were a ton of bubbles... of the soap and alcoholic variety.
Oh yeah, and there was also a total shit storm in the comments! Fortunately, Hulk already addressed it with his spectacularly insightful post, so I can simply proceed with my own thoughts on the second episode, charmingly entitled "Vagina Panic." In this installment, the gals deal with a lack of satisfying sex (or in Shoshanna's case, no sex at all), a job interview, a fear of AIDS and a trip to the clinic for an abortion. You know, just your ordinary, totally uncontroversial, this-comment-thread-should-be-a-breeze type stuff.
As Meredith mentioned in her post, this show, at its core, is really about friendship, and I do think that the second episode offers a deeper glimpse into our four main characters and their relationship to each other. While Jessa still seems like a one dimensional hipster (Seriously, how can someone so curvy be so flat?), Marnie is a fascinating study in contrasts as she strives to be the perfect friend while not giving a shit about being a good girlfriend. Also, her admission that she moved to New York City because she loves Rent made my adult self roll her eyes while my teenage self secretly pumped her fist. Hannah continues to be both hilarious and obnoxious, with a bewildering mix of low self-esteem and bright-eyed feminism.
But Shoshanna, now there's my girl! She makes manifestation boards! She dresses like a preppy elementary school teacher! She's a virgin! She can't tell the difference between pot and tobacco smoke! She is, in short, very similar to a young adult Sarah, so it makes sense that I'm rooting for her the hardest. I empathize with her, not only in her personal struggles, but in the way she relates to the rest of the girls. If I were hanging out with the beautiful, seemingly perfect Marnie and the gorgeously cosmo Jessa and the ceaselessly clever Hannah, I too would feel the need to whip out a book called "Listen, Ladies!" just so I had something to contribute.
Because honestly? I don't know if I would be friends with any of the girls besides Shoshanna. Not because I wouldn't want to be, but because I wouldn't feel cool enough. There's definitely a hipster edge to Girls, whether it's jokes about abortion parties or Hannah's job interview outfit, which is straight out of an Urban Outfitters catalog and nothing my mother would deem remotely professional. And while I relate to certain female universal truths, like grossly stained period panties and not being able to orgasm as easily as dudes, I don't always connect with the bohemian New York lives these girls are living.
I'm currently 33, but I also see this show through the lens of being 23, and at that age, I was just beginning to explore the beckoning horizon of adulthood. Sure, I talked to my friends about sex and relationships and our future, but I was even more of a goody-goody than Shoshanna. I wouldn't have dared to try to live in the Big Apple on my own, and while I would have supported a friend through an abortion, I would have treated it like Serious Business and saved the candy for when we got back home and crawled on the couch for a Pride & Prejudice marathon. And if that same friend had flaked on her appointment and ignored all of my calls in favor of making out with a random guy in a bar bathroom stall, I wouldn't have just shrugged it off like Marnie. I would have taken it personally, because back then, I didn't have a job I cared about or a special boy I cared about; I just had my friends.
I say that not because I think this show should line up perfectly with my frame of reference. In fact, I'm glad it doesn't, because that would be a waste of HBO's freedom to flaunt naked bodies and drug use. I'm simply trying to explain why I want so desperately to understand these girls' relationship and consequently feel like I'm a part of it.
Don't get me wrong, I still enjoy the show even when I don't identify with the main characters, but my favorite moments thus far are not the shades of Judd Apatow (Hannah making a date rape joke) or the "Amirite, ladies?" lines (Hannah proclaiming that the sex with Adam was "so good, I almost came"), but the tiny insights into how and why these people care about each other. And I'd like to see more of that, not because I want this to turn into a series on the Oxygen Network, but because, with the absence of gals like Veronica Mars and Angela Chase, I need more TV besties in my life. Right now, these girls (with the exception of Shoshanna, LU!) seem beyond the reach of my friend zone, but I'm hoping that after a few more episodes, I'll feel comfortable enough to invite them over for a sleepover. (Communal bath time not included.)
So, Meredith, are you ready to give your BFF charm to any of these characters? Do any of them particularly resonate with your twenty-something self? And, most importantly, would you be wiling to co-author a book of sage advice for women with me? I've got a really great title in mind...