Analysis of HBO's "Girls"

Comm 397 Final Project

The Truth of Growing Up

0As a current Junior, I am faced with the troubling thought of, “Am I really getting that old”? These next two weeks will be the last weeks I will be trekking around as a Junior before I go abroad to Spain, and in two months and thirteen days I will be the long awaited twenty one year old. As these countdowns that I’ve waited so long for, seem to have come before I know it, I realize that soon I will become a college graduate, poor, and job seeking woman with a bachelor’s degree. Therefore, as I watch this series Girls, I realize that I will be one of these “girls” sometime in the near future, sometime soon.

Although we may not relate to exactly to each character Hanna, Marnie, Jessa, and Shoshanna, the idea of being on their own, broke, in they’re twenty’s, and seeking a job is something many college graduates can relate too. This theme of simply “growing up” is a lot to take in, especially when the last four years of your life have been nothing but fun. Coming from a big family, my cousins always tell me, “never leave college, it’s the worst mistake you’ll ever make.” If I had a penny for every time someone has said that line to me, I probably would not have to worry about college debt. But the truth of the matter is, growing up and finding a successful and happy place in the adult life is not always pretty.

The show Girls, deals with the struggles and hardships these college graduates go through individually, but together at the same MOMtime. We see Hanna working at a coffee shop, Marnie going through the indecisiveness of love and growing apart, Jessa dealing with pregnancy at a young age, and Shoshanna dealing with maturing individually. Although males may not have all these problems, these struggles that each character faces deal with making life decisions on our own. At age 20, I still find myself calling my mother if I should buy certain clothes, and she always tells me “do what you want it’s your money el”. I find myself getting annoyed at her why she won’t just tell me what to do, because at one time she would give me an answer. But then I realize that this is all a part of growing up. Our life choices, even something as simple as what color shirt to buy in my case, or Jessa dealing with the decision of getting an abortion or not, creates us to become an adult, which deals with making choices on our own.

Girls is a perfect example of young adults in their 20’s making life decisions that may end up biting them in the ass but learning from them. Hanna, had to make the decision of quitting her unpaid internship, and getting a job in a coffee shop, without knowing if she could have gotten a “real job” if she stayed with her internship. After watching this scene with Hanna, I realized that soon I will be faced with much harder decisions in life, other than what color shirt looks best on me, decisions that will affect my future. The hit series Girls is a prime example of what it’s like growing up in the real world. Although it may not relate directly to every viewers lives, it sends a message of humor and a lesson of the struggles we will once have to face to make it after college. More importantly, it sends a message that life may not always be what we planned, but there is always hope and humor that carry us through it.

This idea of “growing up” by dealing with the struggles of living on your own, finding a job, and being overall happy, leads back to the idea of democracy. This kind of democracy is completely different from the democracy of our country, but similar to the democracy of people going through the same problems and struggles. In a time that determines a big part of our life, it is comforting to know that we are in this together. Girls is a key example of democracy, because it shows the individual struggles that each character deals with, but the message of their struggle is the same. Their struggle deals with the lessons of growing up, and making decisions on our own and for ourselves. The role of democracy within Girls, allows viewers to see that we too are not in these struggles alone, and helps demonstrate

Written by: Ellie Carten

Democracy at Stake?


Most television dramas advertised to young teens presents one type of lifestyle –  one that’s wealthy and glamorous. With such limited variety of economic situations represented in these shows, it would be ignorant not to question whether this violates democracy. Not only is it unfair to create desirable lifestyles which are not affordable or realistic for the the majority of viewers, but it is unfair that this is the only story being told. This is why I liked the HBO show Girls so much. Not only did I identify with Hannah’s character, but I was able to feel at ease with certain situations in my life which were represented in the show. Instead of making me feel inadequate like most shows do, I felt a sense of relief and satisfaction seeing my past experiences reflected in a TV series. This security and identification I myself felt with the show makes me confident that the economic situations facing these characters are real. This show prepares me for my future because I can picture myself being in Hannah’s situation post-college where she is dedicated to an unpaid internship and can’t quite conquer her dream of being a writer. Although these are not cheerful thoughts, they allow me to not feel bad about myself or where I am in life because it’s normal and reflected in an actual show.

Stories of imperfection and struggle are now being represented. Hannah’s physical appearance as well as her unlabeled relationship is the reality for most American teenagers. Surrounded by me are not all 6 feet tall beautiful models strutting around with their arm candy. It’s your everyday average tumblr_m4cw07TtYT1qce2soo1_500looking people who are trying to maintain relationships with others whether its a happily ever after or just another day. Instead of swaying our attention into a dream-like world and distracting us from the reality of our lives, shows like Girls brings your situations to surface. Already as a faithful viewer of this series, I am not only wondering where Hannah’s life will go, but I am also looking more closely at my future. Perhaps the reason why students have not joined together as a country is because we are embedding ourselves in too much dream-like television which does not address current situations facing us. This idea is definitely something to consider. I am not suggesting we completely stray from the shows we enjoy watching because they unrealistic. I am just suggesting we question the content we are watching and do not get distracted from our own lives.

Due to the popularity of Girls, I believe more shows will follow this trend. Representing the imperfect teenager and real situations which are not sugarcoated will hopefully apply to other social situations. It would be truly inspiring if there was a show which had a discourse surrounding the issue of weight. Our generation certainly praises a thin-ideal and this can be seen as the dominant body-type in almost all TV shows aBoys_png_630x705_q85nd movies. Having a show that lets people know it’s okay if you aren’t skin and bones would be inspiring for girls around the country because it is not healthy or normal to be as thin as actresses in these shows. Another suggestion would be making a complimentary series featuring boys. I found a pretend title mimicking that of Girls. It reads “Boys.” Already suggestions and a discourse is being created about the representation of teenage boys in this society. In terms of addressing other social situations, a show focusing on homosexual relationships and friends could allow for another opportunity for different audiences to identify.

More shows need to be commended for breaking through the clutter instead of being criticized. Ellie mentioned the criticisms the show faced. For instance, the show was accused of being racist due to the fact that the group of four girls were all white. If anything, I think that the lack of economic diversity on mainstream television threatens our democracy, whereas shows such as Girls strengthens and restores democracy. Viewers are already appreciating this new breakthrough of entertainment based on the imperfects and flaws of a group of girls living in New York City. As a result, a second season will be premiering January 13th of 2013. I hope to see effects of the economic situation in more of the characters and am curious to see where their lives go. As I await the premiere of season 2, I certainly won’t forget to remember the reality of my life and hopefully will catch pace with Hannah and have gotten an internship of my own. 🙂



“I may be the voice of my generation. Or at least a voice of a generation.” -Hannah Horvath

An Alternative Form of Media?

tumblr_mebqqbb8Lx1rgain4o1_1280Television shows about current issues and relatable topics used to be few and far between. We see shows these days about a fairy tale world filled with money, publicity, and excess. Normal people can’t afford to keep up with the indulgence on shows like Gossip Girl and 90210, but for some reason this seemed to be filling the airwaves… until Girls came along. The HBO hit series has transcended all the boundaries that surround taboos and “hushed” topics that just were not making it onto mainstream television today. You know! Topics on the horrible state of the economy, almost nonexistent amount of jobs available for recent college grads, and everyday struggles of twenty-something’s finding their place in the real world after college. These are major topics that are affecting a huge chunk of the population. Why hadn’t someone tapped into the gold mine that is relatable characters before? There was a real audience waiting out there for a show to come along that they could watch and think afterwards, “this is my life.”


The creator and star, Lena Dunham, was one of these people waiting for a show to come along that really portrayed the life of average Americans. Finally she got tired of waiting and decided to create her own show. Lena managed to take her personal experiences and turn them into a hit television show. With the success of this show, it wasn’t long before other major television companies wanted in on the pie. More and more shows about real life struggles and displays of our current economic state were popping up everywhere.

  • After being shunned from the Upper East Side crowd because her father’s wrongdoings, Caroline Forbes is banished to Brooklyn without even a cent to her name. She struggles to works as a waitress, and is trying to save up money to start a cupcake business with her best friend Max in 2 Broke Girls.
  • Emily Thorne, secretly Amanda Clark, returns to the Hamptons to get payback on an elite family, who framed her father for a terrorist act when their company was in financial trouble in Revenge.

Revenge          2 Broke Girls

You could not flip through the channels without seeing a show with a similar theme, and it was making shows like Gossip Girl feel ever more obsolete. People were gravitating towards a more real-life story line on television, where the characters they watched on screen could be people they actually knew.

One story that still has not been told in my eyes is one about the effects of trying to start a life after college with extreme amounts of debt following you. It would be interesting to see how this concept would fit on the small screen, but I have to imagine there is an audience for a show like that because of the almost $1 trillion in student debt in this country. This is an economic burden faced by many recent college grads and many older generations still in the process of paying off their loans. An interesting story line would be the comparison of life with college debt just after college, and another story about having lived with this debt for a majority of adult life. I don’t know many advertising companies that would want to pay for this kind of programming, so maybe this could be a government funded program or get funding completely through private interests with the hopes of educating American citizens on the risks and effects of living with enormous amounts of student loans.

An ideal form of mainstream television media, in my opinion, would be one that is fair and true. The majority of funding for television programming comes from advertising, which is reflected in the content of shows. Shows glamorizing a life of luxury and excess were made for a reason, to cause people to want to live similarly, and go out and BUY. Advertisers aren’t worried if the programming put out is helpful to the American society or culture. They are focused on the dollars and cents, and if certain shows aren’t making the cut…they get cut. Advertisers look at number of bodies that are sitting in front of the television, and that is what is being sold to them from television networks, human consciousness. So, whatever was getting the most butts in front of the television is what the programmers were putting out.

An alternative form would be a system more like the BBC, or government funded television programming. When the people producing programming is completely driven by profits, it makes the whole system corrupt. Government funded programming would allow for the consideration of how the programming will affect the society as a whole. Although there has been a shift in the programming appearing on primetime television, the industry is still not producing an accurate or well-rounded view of everyday Americans. There are still high amounts of non-realities even in these new types of shows. The circumstances of the characters don’t always add up in the shift to more realistic programming, such as apartment size, clothing, and vehicles of the characters that are supposed to be struggling financially. This could be because of complete ignorance on the part of the producers, or it could be because of the funding needed from product placement to still include these name brands in television shows. Overall, corporate and advertising funding for these programming is just not the best form of media if Americans want a TRUE picture of the current economic situation.



The Real Effects of the Economic Situation

It is known that going through your twenties is the best and worst times of your life. It is a daunting task to find your place in the world after leaving college and the comforts of home in search of your “destiny”. Going through that process is hard enough, but with the added stresses of today’s economic situation it is no wonder why twenty-something’s are even more confused and lost than ever. In the series, Lena Dunham does her best to portray this transition into the real world from four very specific story lines. They are meant to be REAL girls who have REAL struggles. This world today is not easy, and Lena does her best to portray that through the humor and relatablility of the show.

The HBO hit, Girls, isn’t only a portrayal of the economic hardships facing youth today, but also shows viewers how these hardships affect all aspects of young peoples’ lives. Hannah struggles with finding a job, her complicated relationship with Adam, and the struggles of making it as a writer. All these things lead to a complicated relationship with her body, heightened level of stress, and a misguided outlook on life.

Because of Hannah’s chosen career path as a writer, her financial struggle seems overwhelming and affects her everyday life. It is her dream to be a writer but is constantly reminded that writing does not pay the bills, so she is forced to go out and find a “real” job. Because of these struggles, the character is constantly questioning her self-worth, which is evident when trying to understand her complicated relationship with Adam. Although he is very rude to her and doesn’t ever take her feelings into consideration, she keeps going back to him. She also considers putting up with a “touchy” boss in the office just to keep a job. She does not think enough of herself to even understand that his behavior is unacceptable in the workplace.

The pressures of the current economic situation can cause real problems for young people today. Student loans and the inability to find a steady job right out of college can cause mental and physical health problems. These pressures follow these young people everywhere, making it impossible to have a healthy social life. The HBO series Girls shows what a terrible effect this situation can have on young people trying to find their place in the world. It is not a fantasized account of socialites, but real life people that face hardship and struggle. This show allows for all young people, not only girls, to relate to the characters’ story lines and how they are facing this economic situation while trying to find their place in New York.


This video shows how Hannah is very insecure about aspects of her self and her chosen career path as a writer, and also shows her complicated relationship with her body. These insecurities root from an unhappy environment she faces in the “real world”.

The Lack of Diversity in Televison

Every person male or female has a show that they always find themselves glued to. Whether it’s a new reality game show or a soap opera that has been playing the same on going problem for years. Although there may be a few people out there that hate television, for the most part we as Americans are glued to television whether we like to admit it or not. Television is a stepping-stone in conversation, when in doubt my mother always says, “talk about one of those shows you always watch”. The average female has watched the OC, Gossip Girl, One Tree Hill, or 90210. These are just a few to name that involve young adults getting caught up in life, love and friendship. They involve pretty and handsome young white adult characters. This brings up my argument towards the critic and viewers concern of the hit HBO series Girls, which too has young white adult characters like the rest of these shows. Therefore, I am left with this, what makes Girls different than these other shows involving white characters?

Although Girls has won the hearts of many viewers, it seems to have only won the hearts of white viewers, rather than winning the hearts of viewers of all ethnicities. Girls is based around four white girls living in New York City, trying to find a job, love, and a real life all at the same time. This question of “why can’t a woman of color have this problem and life as well” has been streaming through the first season of the show. But beyond Girls not being diverse, it has stemmed back into the bigger picture, that television in general is not diverse enough. The stepping-stone of the show Girls to the big picture of television is expressed from an article written by Jon Caramancia, from the New York Times,

“But cloistered though it may be, “Girls” is a symptom, not the disease. The debate over the show is related to, but not a full picture of, greater debates about  race and television, about representation and power, and about reception. The vigor of the response has far more to do with what’s not shown on television as a whole than what is or is not show on “Girls”, and also with whose chosen to pay attention” (Caramancia, Jon).

Therefore, Girls may not be as diverse as it should, and viewers may believe it should be more diverse and they are correct. But this issue of diversity goes back to television as a whole. Critics believe, “Television is nowhere near diverse enough, not in it’s actors, it’s writers, or its show runners” (Caramancia, Jon). This issue simply leads back to the problem with television, which helps emphasize the fact that television series are not the problem, but instead the victim. This issue dealing with the network of television is expressed by Maureen Ryan, a writer for the Huffington Post. Television shows are given the green light by television as a whole, which is at a level that diversity either stands or falls.

This problem with the lack of diversity of Girls has been reflected on Lena Dunham, by questioning if she is diverse or not. I believe this is not fair to question her as a person because of her show, but in reality that is how viewers and critics imply her as. Dunham has taken these criticism to the heart, but explains to critics that this show is based on the her own life, and the people that go through these experiences with her.  Although viewers may not be pleased with that, I give her credit for holding her ground, and allowing people to recognize that she is not the problem, television is. Many critics believe that adding diversity could potentially hurt this show, by either “clumsy token diversity or honest whiteness?” I agree that it could hurt the theme of the humor viewers get from the white girls being as blunt and honest about life, but I also do believe one show such as Girls, could be the stepping stone to changing television in general. Pin pointing certain shows with the lack of diversity such as Girls, needs to stop and instead look at the similar shows like Girls, and the lack of diversity that is in those as well. Diversity in television needs to change over all, but viewers need to realize the problem with television in general in order to change the overall problem.

Written by: Ellie Carten

Girls: A Deeper Analysis

My previous blog established the idea that the HBO series, Girls, greatly differs from mainstream TV dramas. This show made a strong break through the clutter of typical American shows which I believe is the reason why the show faced many criticisms.  An author from NYMAG.COM describes this phenomenon saying “It’s a show about life lived as a rough draft—something well intentioned, possibly promising, but definitely begging for cruel critiques.” Because it is on HBO, the show has the permission to use sexual nudity and explicit language. I understand the implications and problems this would cause if a person under the age of eighteen was subject to this show, however, I believe that age appropriate critics are not looking at the real representation this shows gives us. This show takes on the many obstacles that girls face within their lives, whether or not it is TV appropriate. The show conquers issues with friendships, relationships, drugs, economic situations, STD’s, weight, and many more. Every character is at a different level of maturity and represents real-life struggles which I believe almost every girl will endure at some point in their life. This allows for viewers of different maturity levels to identify with one of the four main characters and feel a connection with what they are watching.

For instance, Shoshanna is a character who is still a virgin. She is less experienced than the rest of the friends but has a sense of wisdom which the other characters lack. Since she is the only character still in college, she does not represent the current economic situation facing youths. Next is Jessa – Shoshanna’s older British cousin who has just returned back to NYC for the first time in years. She’s spontaneous and adventurous which is shown when her flirty relationship with her boss and her random marriage.  Her current job is babysitting and this is a practical job for someone in her position. Marnie is a character who is very uptight and put-together. Initially she starts the season with a long-term boyfriend. However, as the season progresses, she becomes bored with her relationship and becomes conflicted with not knowing what she wants. Lastly, Hanna is the character mentioned in my previous blog who has struggled mostly with economic problems. However, she is also dealing with an unlabeled relationship with a boy who she has casual sex with and gives her mixed signals as to what they even are. In addition, she battles with being thirteen pounds overweight. Her short and pear-shaped physique differs from the tall, lean and beautiful characters in almost all TV shows. I believe that the contrasting situations this group of girls face is effective in attracting a variety of viewers. I know many of my friends fit the personalities and situations of almost all of the characters represented in this show. This is why I enjoy and appreciate this show so much.

Although the economic situation is not visible or forefront in each of the characters lives, their human characteristics and personalities have a way of connecting to a mass audience and does not depict a life far from reality.  This allows for a detox from typical TV drama’s where the viewer no longer has to feel incompetent when they don’t meet the glamorous lifestyles these shows easily depict. Instead, the viewer is able to reflect on their own experiences and feel understood and at the correct pace in their current life because the show does an honest job at representing the lifestyle youths have to look forward to and may be currently in. I think this is why I like this show so much. These characters represent situations that almost all of my friends have been in. I feel as though if a camera followed me and my group of friends, the situations would be quite similar to those represented in the show. Posted throughout this blog are images from the show with fan comments written over the pictures from a blog on Tumblr. These really show the appreciation and connection that viewers have to the show, Girls. 


Girls: Breaking The Clutter

You check the time. It’s 8:01. You realize your heart beating faster and your body carrying itself towards the TV, almost as though it is attracted by a magnetic field. You fumble for the remote. At last, the TV is on and you’ve only missed just a few moments of your favorite show. The theme song is like music to your ears and you are now at peace while your heart rate goes back to normal.

This feeling and desire is habitual for many people. I personally have felt this way towards all the TV drama series that have been marketed to girls my age. These irresistible TV shows include Pretty Little Liars, Laguna Beach, The OC, and Gossip Girl. I never questioned the content or lifestyle being represented in these shows, but rather accepted them. After watching one season of the HBO TV series Girls, I cannot help but wonder what these highly glamorized TV drama’s are doing to our youth’s perception of the real-world. The previously mentioned shows are free through a cable subscription where access and choice to watch them is not restricted by additional charge. On the other hand, however, Girls is serviced through HBO and cannot be seen by the everyday cable subscriber. When the mainstream TV drama’s depict lifestyles that are above the middle-class and do not represent the current economic situation, it does not prepare or educate youth, but rather creates a chance to escape reality.

Girls, written and directed by Lena Dunham, represents the economic situation in her new TV series which launched in April of 2012. The show follows the lives of four best friends living in Brooklyn who all are trying to find themselves and their way in the world. The main character Hanna, who is actually played by Lena Dunham, is an identifiable character to those youths struggling in this economic battlefield. Hanna faces a series of unfortunate events beginning with her getting fired from an unpaid internship, her parents cutting her off from money, and getting sexually harassed at her new job. The stakes get higher once Hanna and her friend Marnie get into an argument which results in their decision to not live together anymore. This economically only affects Hanna because she was living for free while Marnie paid all of the bills. All of these representations of youth struggle reflect real-life situations in which the majority of youth can identify themselves.

Leslie Blume discusses mainstream dramas in her blog stating, ” On a certain level, I guess that Gossip Girl might just be laboring under a certain amount of genre fatigue. After seeing so many similar offerings, I’ve come to realize that all elite-teen-culture films and series hold certain formulas and premises sacred.” Gossip Girl is a TV drama which follows the lives of wealthy teenagers living in Manhattan’s Upper East Side.  These teenagers all attend an elite private high school and as the series progresses, they all aim to be accepted by prestigious IV league colleges. Almost all of the main characters come from extremely wealthy backgrounds, where the most highly emphasized problems center around social reputation. One family on the show represents some degree of economic struggle, however since there is an uneven ratio between poor and wealthy characters, they are not exactly desired by the audience. In addition, the only economic struggle presented for this family is the inability for the father to send their children to this elite private high school which is not an everyday problem faced by American youth around the country.

New York Times journalist Kristen Dell writes in her article, “The members of the class of 2011 have a frightening footnote on their diplomas: Most Indebted Class Ever–and this year’s seniors are on track to surpass them. Average student-loan debt for new graduates has reached $27,300.”  The economic situation facing youth today has greatly affected the future for the young generation. The story that investing in a college degree will ensure you a successful future is not playing true for many youths who are buried in student loans and cannot find a decent paying job post-college. I interviewed peers about student debt for a class assignment and found that some of my peers will have no student loan post-college while some will have up to $100,000 in student loans; that’s a house payment! With many youths facing the same problem together, I myself wonder why we all have not joined to end high tuition and inevitable debt which will prevent our generation financially from being able to do things that we grew up dreaming of: having a house, kids, a job in our designated field, etc. With the lack of our youth conquering this issue together, it is important to look at the culture we have embedded ourselves in and the stories being told.

As a viewer, it is unfortunate to see Hanna financially struggling, however, I can completely relate to her situation. To be able to identify so closely with a character is an ability that I have not been able to do in most shows which depict highly glamorized and luxurious lifestyles unattainable through my families income. Hit TV Dramas, such as Gossip Girl, The OC, Laguna Beach, and Pretty Little Liars have failed to make the economic situation seem real to the audience and instead create an opportunity to escape reality and live in a dreamworld. It is so easy to lose our sense of reality because the characters are often made flawed which helps us relate, however, their lifestyles and economic situations are often presented as higher than the middle class. More shows need to portray the real situations facing youth today in order to educate and wake up the generation of youth who are still dreaming. When we plan our days around ensuring that we watch the new episode of our favorite TV series, it’s important that we recognize and separate reality from Hollywood.


Word on the Street of “Girls”

Growing up we find ourselves saying, “I want to famous” whether it’s    becoming the President one day, or being the next talked about star on a reality show. But beyond becoming famous or not, life presents us with people who will judge and talk about our every move. We find ourselves being critiqued for every move we make, whether it’s good or bad. This role of “critic” has played a very big impact on the HBO hit series Girls. Although it has received many positive and outstanding reviews, there has been one negative issue that keeps coming up time after time; that issue dealing with race.

Lena Dunham, 25, has created, directed, starred and produced the HBO series Girls. Although she is one of the most talked about females in the industry for her creative and hard work, she is also question for why race of other females and characters in general are not portrayed in this series. Viewers say that the only time a person of a different ethnicity was shown was to represent a homeless African American male. The co producer explains the way the show is supposed to be represented by, “Girls is quite simply about spoiled white girls. They have so much privilege that they have developed a sense of entitlement.” This statement can easily go along with our culture, and that it truly does make sense. Although we live in a much diverse world today than it was years ago, white girls are still given this privilege, and that is what this show is all about.

But along with negative critic comments, viewers who agree with the lack of diversity have made their opinions known. Our social media has created the viewer’s feelings and opinions to be known throughout twitter and facebook. On twitter the opinions stated, “Thanks to HBO Girls I now don’t have to travel to NYC to know what it’s like. It’s just all white people.” While another stated, “HBO’S Girls, summarized for you to save the trouble: white girls, money, whining. There now; that’s what all the fuss is about.” These opinions through social media have become a competition about race and power in this world, which is something director Lena Dunham did not want to start. Although it is unfortunate, I think it is clear that viewers do have a right to feel this way, but also understand the message Dunham was trying to represent.

Beyond race, writer Kia Makarechi for the Huffington Post,  has found negative comments on the show for being “unsympathetic” as the four main characters all come from privilege backgrounds. All four characters in reality are related to a high leader in the media, which makes this story unrelavent to their lives. But many say that these women cannot help where they came from, and they should have every right to take advantage of this opportunity. Although they may not be able to relate to their characters having no money from their parents or unable to find a job, at least they understand that the average college graduate has to go through these hardships. Which in the end, proves that they are women who understand real life, which so many famous actresses or family members of celebrities go blind to.


The HBO hit series Girls, has won the hearts of many college girls all around the country. The series is funny, and makes us feel right at home to relating to people similar to us. Lena Dunham explains her opinion from the many negative ones by, “Our generation is not just white girls. It’s guys. Women of color. Gay people. The idea that I could speak for everyone is absurd. But what is nice is if I could speak for me and it resonate for people.” This series comes from a moment in her own life, and although many cannot understand why, at least it has impact many young adult women’s lives, which is just enough.

Written by: Ellie Carten

How “Girls” Represents Our Youth

In the HBO hit series, Girls, the current economic situation is being accurately represented through the lives of four friends living in Brooklyn. The four main characters all add different view points to the story, and through the chronicles of the main character Hanna’s life, the audience is able to see how the pressures of the economic situation is affecting her mental and physical health. In the first episode, her parents decide to cut her off and refuse to pay her rent and living expenses anymore. Lena Dunham, the show’s writer and star describes this as, “[Hannah’s] shock [of being cut off] is a little bit generational because kids who are coming out of college in the recession sort of feel like they deserve something that the world isn’t giving to them.” This shows that because of the current economic situation, youth today feel that the opportunities to succeed on their own are not there for them. Because the employment opportunities are simply not available, the lack of support from their parents seems unfair and out of their control. Youth today feel as those it is not for a lack of trying they are unemployed and in debt, but rather it is because of the recession that limits their ability to succeed. This is one of the first ways in which Girls accurately describes the feelings of a widespread population fighting for employment in this economy.

Another example of how the show represents youth in today’s recession is because of Hannah’s job situation. After being let go from her unpaid internship, and the constant pressure from her best friend and roommate Marnie for the rent, Hannah is now desperate for a job. She considers herself a writer, but she needs to be able to pay the bills. She finally finds an office job, but when her boss offers to give her a massage she thinks something might be weird. She brings up the inappropriate touching to her co-workers and they explain that with the touching comes benefits, and because the disrespectful touching is happening at work then it is okay. Hannah struggles with this idea. She feels very uncomfortable with the situation, and although she needs this job she doesn’t know if it is enough to allow such an act to happen in the workplace. This shows the types of situations youth today are put in and the types of things they deal with while working in entry-level jobs.  Hannah considers putting up with her boss’s inappropriate touching just because of her desperation for money, but ultimately decides her self-worth is more important.

Along with many other networks that have taking on this challenge, an accurate portrayal of the real world problems our youth are facing seems to have captivated audiences because it allows them to relate to the stories over simply fanaticizing about a world they wish they could live in. Girls, 2 Broke Girls, and Revenge are all different depictions of how the recession and economic decline are affecting Americans today. Media outlets have taken notice of this trend and I expect to see many more shows like these in the future. The success of Girls shows corporations and advertisers that a television show based on real life economic struggles can find a large and loyal following. Television viewers are switching to a more real-life story lines, which is why Girls is such a hit.