Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Girls Watch: "One Man's Trash"

I guess I'm officially blogging this show now. Bear with me; I don't do recaps. There are plenty of sites that do, and do them well (like this one ), so I'll spare you the long-form.

"One Man's Trash" was probably the strangest episode to date. In a nutshell, Hannah spends three days  playing house with a separated, 42-year-old doctor named Joshua (expertly played by Patrick Wilson) and his amazing brownstone after he complains to Ray that one of his employees (that would be Hannah) is throwing Grumpy's trash in in his garbage can. I'm still not sure if we're supposed to believe the whole thing happened, or was it just imagined and not because, ugh, a woman who looks like Hannah doesn't "deserve" a guy like Joshua. I can see Hannah drafting something like this as one of her "experiences" for the memoir she's supposed to be writing. That's a pretty good analogy, actually. The vibe was so different from the rest of the show, it almost felt like short story, or a single vignette, not part of a larger series. It definitely had that sense of unreality. The closest thing to it I can think of is last seasons "The Return," where Hannah goes back home for a weekend and sees what her life could be had she never left.

However, I'm not sure how successful this minor detour actually was. It was artfully filmed, but it seemed almost too anachronistic, and I found myself missing the rest of the cast. I don't want to accuse Dunham and  co. for taking too much of an artistic risk, because TV these days is rarely risky, but the few times the show has pulled back to focus solely on Hannah, it becomes evident how narcissistic she really is. And I think there's a lot to be said about creating a female character who is so wholly unlikable.

Lizzie Skurnick wrote another insightful recap for Salon where she touches on Girls lack of representation outside its white, middle-class milieu:
"But I’m thrilled that this segregation has a new partner: public outrage. A show launched about the new generation, and it was only white. There was an uproar. Should this uproar have been directed, as too few columnists pointed out, at the 99 percent of the rest of the entertainment industry who have defaulted, in ignorant bliss, to a Prospect Park-like vista since the invention of talkies? Of course it should. Was it sexist that it focused on a young woman who has actually done a lot for people with cellulite? Why does Jon Stewart (whom I also love) get a company-wide show of support, and Dunham a blast of ire?"
I think a lot of the outrage has come from mislabeling Girls as universal. I don't really think that was Lena Dunham's intention, to make the experiences of four fairly well-off white girls the standard, and while the criticisms of the shows lack of diversity are true, it's a lot for one show to shoulder. Of course, I say this as someone who ten years ago would have been easily part of Girls target audience. I've kind of reluctantly become a fan of this show, and part of that was letting myself watch something that I knew from the start was flawed.

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