I don't really know why I would even do this. Why take the bait and read an opinion article about Girls, on a conservative-leaning website, with a sensational headline, published far too late in the media cycle to plausibly be any kind of actual review. I knew it would be one of the dumbest, most reductive fucking concern pieces I have ever read, and I did it anyway!
Why? Well, maybe because like all young, city-dwelling liberal women, I secretly hate myself and thwart my own happiness (and that of others) at every turn. I suppose it's possible. But also, when I see someone headline an article "The Zombie Girls of Brooklyn" and start it off with a line about "a world where nothing matters," it feels kind of personal! I mean, I am a reasonably young woman living in Brooklyn, after all (and it's sort of my job to spend all day reading things on the internet). If my entire life is devoid of meaning and fulfillment, better to find out sooner rather than later, right?
I did not find that out, thankfully. What I did find was a hysterical, scattershot Girls "think piece" blaming the show's popularity, quite literally, on an "elaborate hoax" by the liberal media. That, and fresh new criticisms of Lena Dunham as unattractive and well-connected, and a purveyor of "multiple forms of human degradation in every scene" with "the moral sense of a mountain goat." There is also this:
"Girls is sad, not funny. Indeed, it is a reintroduction to our old, tired, overworked friend “Sex and the City,” only dusted off, tossed into Brooklyn, and dipped into a grungy, plastic kiddie pool filled with floating bugs, self-referential "meta" humor, and ennui.
When you think about it, we should all thank Lena Dunham. If you doubt the power of the media to create an alternate universe or push an agenda, witness Girls. With its self-referential feedback loop, casual nihilism, and refusal to take anything of value seriously, the show perfectly packages and delivers the secular, “no rules” worldview that many in the media want to sell."
And again, I don't know why I kept reading or why I'm even surprised. I already know that I'll probably never find myself agreeing with Heather Willhelm, an openly conservative journalist who pens articles with titles like, "When Did Feminism Become So Embarrassing," and that most people who write these kinds of things have not bothered to actually watch the show, as evidenced by yet another mischaracterization of Dunham as a self-described "voice of a generation" or the scathing mention of a "funny abortion," which even the least committed viewer probably knows never actually took place.
At this point, none of it is really shocking anymore. People like to talk lots of wild shit about Girls, Brooklyn, and young people, pageviews are had, life goes on. What is a little more surprising (and insane) is Willhelm's insistence that the show's "secular, no rules worldview" and presentation of a "solipsistic life, unmoored from morals or meaning," is in no way "normal" or "representative," and a dangerous influence that young people "might buy into." This, in 2013 America, a place where the number of non-religious citizens is increasing by the day, and, as Willhelm points out, a truly miniscule portion of the population actually watches Girls.
It all seems unlikely. And really, if you hate the show, just say so! I mean, I personally like it for a number of reasons, but if you're not into the mundane visual palette, narrow, privileged perspective, almost entirely unsympathetic cast of characters, and have a particular aversion to sex scenes that are unrealistic and damaging in a way that departs from the usual unrealistic and damaging tropes of Hollywood sex scenes, sure. That argument can absolutely be made. Not enough people write reviews that address the actual quality of the show, which is a little condescending in a whole different way.
But writing a bad review under the guise of social, even feminist "concern" that still sees fit to toss around belittling descriptors like "eye-charring, floppy nudity?" It's almost as stupid as denying the fact that to be a self-involved shithead in one's 20's is, by and large, pretty "normal and representative." But, as Willhelm said, it's all about "a broader, self-reinforcing worldview." So we've all done something productive with our time, then.
Follow Virginia K. Smith on Twitter @vksmith.