If you haven't seen HBO's controversial, Golden Globe- and Emmy-nominated comedy Girls, then you've most certainly heard about it. Lena Dunham's ballsy, realistic, hilarious, and oft cringe-inducing depiction of a group of self-involved twenty-somethings living in New York City (an oxymoron, perhaps) had people talking in 2011 when Season 1 debuted. Talking about how much they loved it, talking about how much they hated it, talking about how much they hated how much people hated it, and talking about Dunham's total disregard for pants.
No matter what your feelings are on the messy, lovelorn Hannah (Dunham) and her group of friends the beautiful, but lost Marnie (Allison Williams), the hilariously uptight Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet), and boho basket case Jessa (Jemima Kirke), you've got to admit something: it's always great when TV creates a dialogue.
Season 2 of Girls kicks off tonight on HBO at 9 PM ET. Before you reunite with Hannah and her band of merry (and more often times than not) hipsters, or meet them for the first time to find out what all the fuss is about, we wanted to catch you up to speed.
Where We Left Off: After witnessing the rushed, ridiculous nuptials of Jessa and douchey venture capitalist/freelance DJ Thomas John (Chris O'Dowd), the rest of the girls found themselves in some unexpected romantic situations. Well, maybe not Hannah. We could have seen her inevitable break-up with the hot-and-cold Adam (Adam Driver) from a mile away. While she wound up sad, robbed, and tired after their split in Coney Island, Adam wound up in the hospital after getting hit by a car. These two can't even break up like a normal couple. On the unexpected end, sweet Shoshanna lost her virginity to polar opposite Ray (Alex Karpovsky), while Marnie hooked up with a goofy wedding guest (Bobby Moynihan) as a reaction to seeing her ex Charlie (Christopher Abbott).
Biggest Jaw-Dropper Of The Fall: Well, Jessa and Thomas John's wedding was a shocker, to say the least, considering how much she hated him when they first met. Although, Jessa's compulsive, reckless behavior certainly isn't. Actually, Shoshanna hooking up with the snarky Ray made jaws drop, and heads scratch, even more.
Biggest Let-Down Of The Fall: Hannah's total lack of effective communication with Adam. Granted, he's impossible to read or talk to or put up with, but the fact that Hannah couldn't muster up the courage to tell her boyfriend that she's moving in with her gay ex-boyfriend Elijah (Andrew Rannells) or tell him to get lost when he whined that she "chased him around like The Beatles" is just sad. She told Adam off once, why couldn't she do it again?
Most Improved Character: Some would argue Adam resembled more of a human as Season 1 went on, but the only actually improved person on Girls was Shoshanna. She started off as something of a visual and verbal gag, but by the end of Season 1, Shoshanna was a fully fleshed-out character (kudos to Mamet on her brilliant, balanced performance) who did what none of the other girls could do: be honest with themselves and get what they really want. Even if that thing is a night with Ray.
Least Improved Character: Hannah stayed pretty stagnant in terms of her career and her love life, but no one digressed more than Jessa. In addition to almost ruining the marriage of the couple she was babysitting for and toying with her engaged fiance, Jessa continued her downward spiral by entering into a loveless, shotgun wedding. Jessa may be fun to watch, but out of the whole gang, she's the one you'd least want to have around as a dependable friend.
5 Reasons You Should Keep Watching: Season 2 promises more Rannells (hooray!) and even more guest stars including Donald Glover and Patrick Wilson as Hannah's new love interests. There's also the return of can't-miss Sunday night HBO programming, being in on the inevitable Monday morning Girls discussion, finding out all the hip locations in Brooklyn, and, of course, plenty of nudity!
What We Ultimately Want To See: For Dunham to continue making the daring, unflinching TV show she set out to make. She's caught a ton of unnecessary flack (would a man get the same criticisms?) and hopefully it hasn't gotten to her. We don't expect these characters to be perfect or likable all the time (people aren't in real life) but we do expect to see them exactly for who they are. Not what critics and critical viewers "want" from them. After all, beloved shows like Seinfeld and It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia are filled with self-involved jerks. If they could get away with it, so can Girls, and they can actually do it with some heart.
What Would Make Us Turn Our Backs: If Hannah gets back with Adam and she's clearly learned nothing from the first go-around and he's treating her exactly the same way, it will feel like watching your friend get back with her terrible ex. We don't like that in real life, so why would we pay to watch it on cable? These people don't have to be nice or perfect, but they still have to learn something and grow up a little bit, otherwise we're watching a car crash for no good reason.
[Photo credit: HBO]
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The Girls are back in town. The trailer for Season 2 of HBO's divisive, daring Emmy-nominated comedy has been released and it looks like things are somehow both very different and exactly the same. (If that doesn't perfectly encapsulate what the 20s feel like, I don't know what does.)
Newly single Hannah (Lena Dunham) seems to be on the right track by distancing herself from "sociopath," possibly "murder-y" ex-boyfriend Adam (Adam Driver) and maturing. (In the clip, she declares she's looking for a "kind, sexy responsible boyfriend I've always wanted, but never had." That boyfriend is played by Patrick Wilson, who certainly fills the sexy requirement). How long that revelation will last remains to be seen until the season starts, as Adam seems hell-bent on breaking back into her heart. And her apartment.
Elsewhere, the "deflowered, but not devalued" Shoshanna (the underrated Zosia Mamet) is still galavanting with the relentlessly annoying Ray (Alex Karpovsky), Jessa (Jemima Kirke) is back from her honeymoon with her practical stranger of a husband Thomas John (Chris O'Dowd), and a jobless, boyfriend-less Marnie (Allison Williams) is still trying to figure it all out and perhaps reconcile with Charlie (Christopher Abbott). The joyous two-minute clip is certainly rewatchable for any Girls fan, if only to spot all the returning stars (Andrew Rannells, Jorma Taccone) and newcomer cameos (Rita Wilson as Marnie's judgmental mom).
Anything could happen during Season 2 of Girls, which premieres on Sunday, Jan. 13 at 9 PM ET on HBO. Hopefully not Hannah getting murdered by Adam. Watch:
[Photo credit: HBO]
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Television fans are a unique set. We're the type of people who devote hours upon hours a week to our fictional, televised friends. We laugh at their jokes and cry when they cry because our favorite shows are just so darn good. But the intensity of the laughter and the tears is all thanks to the fact that we regard these characters as something of a family. We know them. We understand them. We love them unconditionally. And actors deserve recognition for being able to elicit that level of a reaction from their fans. Naturally, when they're not given their due, we're forced to react, well, emotionally. How, exactly, will we react? That depends on the actor in question. Next up is Lena Dunham, the creator, star, writer and director of the "voice of our generation" HBO series Girls.
There is a relatively large, outstandingly vocal community of Americans who can't stand Girls. The show has faced criticisms of racism, gratuitous sexuality, and pandering to an unrelatable demographic. But beyond all this, the problem many people have with Girls is the kind of people it's about: bad people. Specifically, bad women. Lena Dunham heads a foursome of tersely unlikable characters. As Hannah Hovarth, she is a spoiled, self-involved, emotionally abusive aspiring writer with a sense of entitlement that doubles as her driving life force. Alongside her are Marnie Michaels (Allison Williams), Jessa Johansson (Jemima Kirke), and Shoshanna Shapiro (Zosia Mamet), a band with an equally stark deficit of admirable qualities.
It's curious then, that in this age of beloved Don Drapers, Dexter Morgans, and Walter Whites — markedly horrible people — audiences cannot seem to develop an affinity for Hannah Hovarth and her Girls gang. It is not because they aren't as well drawn characters, and certainly not due to lackluster performances on the part of the actresses delivering them. It's because America is less forgiving to women. They can root for a man who cheats on his wife or murders innocent people, but they just can't seem to get past a woman being kind of a jerk. But as a jerk, Hannah Hovarth is commanding. She might be one of the most (unfortunately) authentic characters on contemporary television. Willing to forgive herself for so much more than she'll forgive others, willing to forgo judgment or consequence, Hannah Hovarth is the perfect depiction of an epidemic affecting her generation: selfishness.
This isn't to call Dunham's story an entirely cynical admonishment of today's twentysomethings. Despite calling out the mass of flaws infecting her peers, Dunham instills Girls with so much joy that it is a pleasure to watch week by week. Where the embracement of the gritty and the real can often rob a project of its fun and color, Girls maintains a unique marriage of authenticity and artistic flavor. And this in entirety should be attributed to Dunham's perfect voice.
Few other shows succeed in the capture of something real to the degree that Girls does. There is no hook, no twist, no "They're just a buncha normal gals livin' in the city... but one of 'em can fly/owns a horse/is a vampire!" No, they're just a buncha normal gals livin' in the city. And the hook is that they are as true to life as you'll find a small screen character to be presently.
The show experiments with a variety of storylines. Hannah endures a relationship with her parents that is at once dismissive and cloying; she undertakes the traumas of unemployment, venereal disease, sexual harassment, and a toxic romance with an equally emotionally malnourished young man (Adam Driver, himself a true acting contender). And if all of this, all of Dunham's exemplary experimentation is not recognized by the Emmys, then they might well just opt to hand over this year's slew of statuettes to The Waltons. Nothing on television is newer, fresher, or more vivid than Girls; no writer has proven herself a greater source for original ideas and valuable themes than Dunham.
As such, I am plunging full force into the movement to win Lena Dunham her well-deserved Emmy Award. If my demands are not met, Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, consider the following your fate: half-naked young women, hopped up on crack, running through the streets of your neighborhood; your relationships will end (probably via some unpleasant discoveries from your significant other's roommate's diary), then rebegin briefly, only to terminate immediately afterward; prepare for pregnancy scares, the misplacement of your employer's children, an angry Chris O'Dowd, and diatribes about the glory of MacDonald's. And then there's the HPV.
Okay, maybe that's all a bit harsh. How about if I just arrange a late night subway ride upon which you'll fall asleep, only to wake up on the beaches of Coney Island? Not too bad, but still inconvenient. You want to avoid that horrible fate? Give Lena her Emmy!
[Photo Credit: HBO]
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