Thursday, June 14, 2012

TV Tuesday on a Thursday: Girls: Pearls and Pebbles

The bright bravado of this first picture channels the kind of femme, funky vibe that I hoped to get from HBO's much-buzzed-about new drama "Girls." But after tuning in to the pilot On Demand, I found that the just-got-caught-picking-its-nose awkwardness of the second picture much more accurately conveys the show's tone. Created by twenty-six-year-old writer and star Lena Durham, "Girls" follows in "Sex and the City's" footsteps by chronicling the lives and sexcapades of four introspective New York City women. Only unlike that fabulous foursome, this quartet is in its twenties and broke. (It's no accident, I'm sure, that picture number one [which I found on Glamour's Web site, by the way] echoes the iconic chic of Carrie and company.)

At the group's epicenter is Hannah (Durham), a twenty-four-year-old unpaid intern armed with an English degree and a half-written memoir. The episode opens with Hannah's parents, both professors (so that's how she got so brainy), telling her that they can no longer financially support her because - and this is pretty wrenching - they just don't want to. The kicker? Hannah's an only child, a fact she incredulously hurls in dear old mom and dad's faces in the elegant and dimly lit restaurant where they broke the news. It's an awful, hide-your-head-under-the-pillow moment, and, as I soon found, a fitting appetizer for what was to come. The next day Hannah asks her boss for a paying position only to be fired. Then she has some hard-to-watch sex with a heinous-looking guy who criticizes her tattoos. When she confides that she got them as a teenager to take control of her overweight body, he says that she should get them lasered off because she's "not that fat anymore." (Oh, the horror.) Then, to top it all off, she goes home to an unpalatable dinner party only to down a mug of opium. High on it and the advice of globe-trotting hippy dippy newcomer Jessa, she bursts into her parents' hotel room, announces that she's the voice of her generation, and demands that they read her memoir -- all moments before collapsing.

It's well done. You know, gritty, disturbing, and weird: your basic unvarnished, coming-of-age slice of life. I get it and there's a good chance I could have lived some version of it had I taken a different path. But I didn't enjoy watching it. I think I would have ten years ago, when I thought that all entertainment had to be painful and deep and different to be good. These days, though, I appreciate TV's lighter side. Luckily, there's a whole TV Guide's worth of laugh-track-happy programming out there to deliver me from my doldrums.

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