• Mon, Apr 16 2012

My Mom And I Debate The Realism Of Girls – A Show Designed To Terrify Parents

girls realistic lena dunham

Immediately after we – separated by space and time zones – finished watching Girls my mother called me to ask 1) whether or not it was realistic and 2) how to use Gchat. The answer is 1) good lord, no, and 2) it’s kind of complicated. We tackle both!

Jen: Hello!

11:22 PM hello, Mom.
11:26 PM Hello. I think maybe you are there?
11:28 PM Hello! GOOD TO SEE YOU! I SEE YOUR LIGHT IS ON!
11:29 PM I AM CHATTING WITH YOU NOW!

CAN YOU SEE ME? I AM CAPSLOCKING WORDS SO YOU CAN MAYBE SEE ME BETTER.
11:30 PM I SEE YOU TYPING!

11:31 PM Mom: I have found you. See – the first big message of Girls is that gchat is only for young people.

Jen: I found Girls so awful that I have decided to withdraw from being a young person. Can I join your generation? Because if this is the voice of my generation I will develop tinnitus.

Mom: Girls strikes terror into the hearts of all parents who have sent their beloved ONLY children off to big cities . So it is good in that way. And no, you would hate my generation.

Jen: No, no, your generation seems like it has at least figured out that you DO NOT EAT CUPCAKES IN THE BATHTUB. Why was the main character sitting in the bathtub listlessly gnawing on a cupcake?

Mom: No, my generation is just bumbling older people, who stay in a nice hotel, but want a lake house.

Mom: Still better. Eating cupcakes in the bathtub is to eating what smearing lipstick on your face in concentric circles is to make-up application. It’s like she went to the Edie Beale school of eating. Her parents at least seemed somewhat likable.

Mom: Hanna wanted privacy to eat her admittedly pricey cupcake, because she had body issues . Which raises the fear that you do not eat healthy in the big city. What about knowing that a lot of you are overworked and under/not paid? That was realistic.

Jen: No, no, no, none of this is realistic. Because young people do not ONLY make terrible choices all the time. And because they generally know that you don’t eat cupcakes in a bathtub or smoke opium and then go to hit your parents up for more money after they’ve paid for your entire life for 2 years (the main character seemed awful). When I had an internship I was cocktail waitressing in two places and working as an art model. Does that make me sound like an old fogey? ”In my day, we did it differently?”

Mom: Yes. But you were not living off your parents because you had more pride than Hanna, and skill sets.

Me: Everyone has some skill sets. Doesn’t this show just glorify not being a competent person? Like, not having the competence to know how to eat like a human? Or do anything?

Mom: But Hanna was desperate – maybe?

Jen : Why?  I was with the guy who thought she could work at McDonald’s

Mom: True. I liked him, sort of, until the opium pod tea. Please tell me you do not drink it – I worry. See? Nothing but worries for parents in this show.

Jen: I do not drink opium tea! I don’t even know what that is!

Mom: And then bad relationship decisions! The unappealing actor who never texts. The girl who is rejecting the nice guy. The pregnancy that was sort of surprising. At least there was a stress on condoms, so maybe that was good.

Jen: Why were their sex lives ONLY miserable, though?

Mom: Because no one seemed to have their acts together, except maybe the pretty girl.

Jen: She was my favorite character! But mostly because she seemed to hate everyone else. Wait. Are we talking about the same pretty girl? With the English accent?

Mom: No, the pretty girl who is shaving her legs while Hannah eats the cupcake in the bathroom. Do you have all your conversations in the bathroom? That seemed weird.

Jen: I do not bathe with my friends! I don’t live in Ancient Rome!

Mom: The English girl was just another type of train wreck who tries to look sophisticated with travel. And the clothes were weird. You and Ashley do not dress like that.

Jen: I didn’t hate the clothes. I just hated all the people. They all seemed like train wrecks. I hate this show setting forth the notion that everyone in my generation is a train wreck. Or that it is somehow appropriate to live entirely off your parents and make bad decisions at every turn, because that is charming and show-worthy.

Mom: And I think everyone had a liberal arts degree, which was another terrible decision.

Jen: You know, that liberal arts degree really helps you make jokes with drunk people when you’re cocktail waitressing. It did for me.

Mom: But I did feel that I learned about the many levels of communication in the Internet world.

Jen: And now you are on Gchat, so we can have the lowest level of communication!

Mom: True. That is because I love you, and you do not live off me like a parasite.

Jen: And because I love you I promise I will never hit you up for money immediately after smoking opium tea.

Mom: So I will be watching this show every week and calling immediately afterwards to see how many of the train wreck ideas are real.

Jen: I really do not think most of this is real. I think most people seem to enjoy saying “I know people like this!” but no one says “yes, this is me.” That’s because it’s a show that makes you feel better about your own terrible 20-something decisions, because they’re not that terrible.

Mom: But it all seemed sort of plausible.

Jen : I think it is all plausible in the way colonizing Mars is plausible. It’s just unlikely. That is to say, I think it’s plausible insofar as “yes, you could have serious judgement failings in terms of relationship, or your work, or opium smoking, or friendships.” But it’s unlikely that you would have all of them all at once.

Mom: That may be true. But the show focused on Hanna. On the surface pretty girl (not English girl) had things together.

Jen: She was hiding in her friend’s bed to avoid sleeping with her boyfriend who “blew up” kisses on her.

Mom: We all need time away from each other.

Jen : Blew them up. Like vomited kisses onto her. That was a person she dated. That was her decision in the “people to date” regard.

Mom: I did not understand that – another worrisome act.

Jen: Okay. I guess there is a certain inertia to your 20′s and that is realistic. But gosh, I really did not like anything about those characters.

Mom: I do not think this is the show of your generation. It is a subset that makes bad decisions and need to realize that paying work is generally necessary. But there was enough remote reality to the characters that it could be believe able hence the worry. In conclusion, I am proud of you and going off to read your memoir.

Jen: Cool! Only 5 chapters to go! (Who writes a memoir at 24?)

Mom: Good night.

Jen: Love you! Going to go smoke my opium tea now!

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  • Kimberly

    Boo to anything that perpetuates the idea that all twentysomethings get money from their parents. But to be fair, I haven’t seen Girls yet.

    I can’t afford HBO.

  • Starofthemag

    Thanks for writing this! Your mom clearly did a better job raising you than the writers of this show did capturing any sense of what it’s actually like to be a young person today.

    On a sort of relevant note, what’s with all the accepted swearing in TV titles these days? ‘Don’t trust the B in apartment 23′, along with being the clunkiest title ever and then GCB, which could have been ‘belles’ instead of ‘b*tches’ from what I’ve read… Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about the swears in appropriate context, but titles of TV shows seems a bit much.

    Darn kids… Get off my lawn! And pull up your pants!

  • K

    I’m 21 and I don’t live off my parents or consume opium tea (going to Google that now, actually). I don’t know any trainwrecks like Hannah & Co., but maybe we’re all just too tame in Toronto!

  • Samantha

    I actually dug the pilot, but I still agree with a lot of your reasoning (especially the bathtub cupcake…wouldn’t it get gross and crumbly from the humidity?). My (now ex-)best friend and I actually used to sit and talk in the tub together a lot, but she and I were weird-close.

    I think I relate to Hanna’s lovelife situation (which, yes, means that I have had a somewhat pathetic recent lovelife) and I love that things don’t look beautiful/glamorous–mainly because I’m moving to NYC in a couple o’ months and I definitely don’t want to be hella disappointed when I live in a shitty apartment yet hoped for a Carrie Bradshaw loft. Although with the money situation–my god, I can’t imagine being that helpless. My parents have helped me through college but I’ve also worked 40 hour weeks the entire time, so the idea of being older than 22 and asking for help freaks me out. So, perhaps “Girls” is my warning to make sure I goddamned get a job the second I move to NY. And to never drink opium tea.

    Also, your mother seems hilarious/lovely.

  • RM

    I thought the show was uninteresting. I wanted to like it, but the scene in which Hannah reacts to her parents made her so unlikable. So, boring plot+unlikable characters+a sex scene that made me feel gross=I probably won’t be watching this show. Plus, did anyone else feel like many of the scenes were just too long?

  • Akronymae

    I have not seen this show but I just have to ask : What the hell is wrong with eating cupcakes in a bathtub???