Why I’m not a Hannah, Marnie, Shosh, or Jessa

SomethingSara copySometimes I can’t help identifying with TV characters. When I wasn’t even close to Carrie Bradshaw’s age, my friends and I always assigned each other friend roles (I was once comically assigned the role of Comet the dog from “Full House”—I was not happy about this).

When a TV show is based on characters my age, there’s even more reason to see myself in one of them.  I’m talking about “Girls,” the popular HBO series.

I hear a lot of girls say that “Girls” is soooo their life or they are soooo Marnies or Hannahs or whomever.  I’m sorry but since when is that something to be proud of?  Don’t get me wrong, I love watching the show week after week to see how these girls are going to fuck up their lives even further, in almost the same way I get a laugh out of watching Larry David offend everyone he’s ever known on “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” but that’s all it is to me—pure entertainment.  Sorry, Deborah Lippman, I like your “Girls”-inspired nail polish set but I am not a Hannah, Marnie, Shosh or Jessa, nor do I want to be.  The sad reality is I do know some girls who are like the girls of  “Girls” and I pity them. GIRLS

Lena Dunham is smart.  I’m sure she knew exactly how her show would be perceived.  How can you not compare a show about four women living in New York to its predecessor on the same pay cable network?  She’s also smart because she knew she would reach not only the audience that wants to be just like her and her characters but also the audience that appreciates a good critical commentary on her generation.  She’s got that right, too.  And with her show she becomes, unfortunately, the voice of her generation—my  generation.

I know what it feels like to enter the world at twenty-two and have it not be at all that you expected or were told it would be; hell, I even did it at the worst of economic times. Unlike a lot of my peers, a few years younger than I am, I worked my ass off to get where I am today—something that Hannah and her friends don’t really seem to have done because they don’t really do a whole lot of anything.  They bring a feeling of entitlement to new heights.  They don’t even listen to each other.  Most importantly, they make you wonder why they’re even friends—something  you never questioned on “Sex and the City” because it was always so clear that, despite their mess-ups, they were always there for each other.  On “Girls” it’s every girl for herself.

Yet there’s something keeping them all together, despite their selfish antics.  They’re BFF’s and the “forever” is real.  They’re growing up, and while sometimes that means growing apart a little, on “Girls,” it’s more about whether their friendships will survive than their relationships and whether in their grown-up lives there will be room for each other. These girls, the “Sex and the City” girls, like the rest of us in the real world, have been through so much together: break-ups, make-ups, camp, high school, college, life after college, marriage, babies and sometimes it’s just hard to let go of that connection to someone.

Lena Dunham still doesn’t want you to think you’re a Hannah, Marnie, Shosh, or Jessa though.  Let’s be clear about that. These girls are certainly not role models.  Carrie Bradshaw, on the other hand . . . a girl can never own too many pairs of shoes, and that’s a perfectly okay aspiration to have (as long as you don’t think you’ll achieve it by being a sex columnist for a cheap newspaper).

16 thoughts on “Why I’m not a Hannah, Marnie, Shosh, or Jessa

  1. I am yet to watch Girls though everyone swears by it. I just don’t know that I have time in my life for another television show, no matter how good it is.

    • There is too much to watch, Tracey, and I’m finding that some shows lose my interest in second, third, etc. seasons. It’s as if they couldn’t sustain a good idea. Re: ‘Girls’, I think Sara pretty much summed up, from a 27-year-old’s perspective, what the show has going for itself. Her thoughts are already sparking what I’ll write as a follow-up.

  2. Okay my Debbie, I now have to watch an episode of Girls because your post made me laugh and as always made me think. I swore to my 60 something self that if I were raising a girl today I would never ever buy all those magazines we read and cherished that taught us how to be a girl- that kind of girl who today we are not sure that we’d want to be -that girl who measured herself by the number inside her label on her jeans. And yet don’t we have a little of Carrie and Charlotte in us ? Well, no need to sit here and ponder it all too much as I am searching on line for a new pair of cute flats from Sole Society which will satisfy at least temporarily all musings. Love you my friend!

    • And I swore I’d never buy Barbie dolls for my daughter. But I did — though it never got out of hand. More to the point, we read those magazines, etc., and we didn’t turn out so bad. 😉

      • I loved my barbies! I never cared about looking like them though, I just admired their clothes and shoes, Carrie-style.

  3. Oh my gosh, this is the amazing Sara’s voice….now how about me reading with attention! Bravo, Sara!

  4. I have watched Girls since it’s inception. I have a love/hate for the show. It’s gotten darker and bleaker. It’s good to hear a voice from a real young woman of that generation. I hope the characters evolve and grow like young Sara. You go girl.

    • I hope so, too! Otherwise there’s just no hope for these young ladies.

  5. Loved your post Sarah! I too and an avid “Girls” fan but also find myself irritated with their behavior–sometimes I just want to shake some sense into them(as I often want to do with my own twenty-something daughters.)Great post–you are a wonderful writer, just like your mother. I hope to meet you someday!

    • Yes, I think what’s great is that sometimes you want to shake them (ie. Hannah obsessing over her book deal at David’s funeral) but sometimes you really can relate (ie. Marnie running into someone she knew on the street who has become more successful than her at what she loves… we’ve all been there and it sucks!).

  6. You nailed it when you said that SITC was about true friendship, while Girls is every girl for herself. Still, I find myself laughing at the show every week. Love this mother/daughter writing you two are doing. Clearly, the “apple” has not fallen far from the tree in the writing talent department.

    • I do think we’re cooking . . . so thank you, Jayne. Now let’s wait to see what I come up with. Like Sara (whose comment below is a response to yours), I find myself laughing out loud, and I keep coming back for more.

  7. I laugh, too. Like I said, I don’t think it’s that different from “Curb Your Enthusiasm” it’s just more situational humor, than direct/intentional humor.

    • It’s a lot different from ‘Curb’. For one thing, one very important thing…. LD would never be caught naked in front of the camera!

  8. I’ve never watched “Girls” though friends have recommended it. I’m just not interested. I loved Sex and the City, and I’m a big fan of Curb Your Enthusiasm–what’s not to love about Larry messing things up? But as you say, Deborah, there’s just too much to watch and I have a long list of shows I do like. I think I enjoy dramas and comedies that tend to skew for those in the ages of 30 and up.

    • I totally understand that! It’s probably the same reason I haven’t been able to get into shows like Downton Abbey. I’m much more of a comedy gal 🙂

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