I’m going to suggest something seemingly outrageous: GIRLS isn’t that great.

Hear me out.

No one was looking forward to GIRLS more than me. Actually that’s probably not true (hyperbole strikes again!) but I was definitely looking forward to it.

The first few episodes were a delight. Look at these GIRLS in all capitals! They’re my age! Sometimes they say juvenile regrettable things and make mistakes and try to act cool when they’re really shattering to pieces inside! Hannah has a normal body! They masturbate! I can relate! I can relate to it all!

And then I couldn’t anymore.

Perhaps I don’t have enough experience with girls my age even though I am one or maybe in the time I lived in Brooklyn as a 22 year old I missed out on the lifestyle the show depicts. By the fifth episode of GIRLS, I was forced to admit it was nothing more than a Sex and the City wolf in an edgier, younger sheep’s clothing most likely from Free People.

The show is a great show. It’s entertaining, it’s well written, it’s starkly and sometimes frighteningly honest. It’s a breath of fresh air. I really just think the title is inaccurate.

GIRLS isn’t girls. It’s stereotypes of girls, specifically of white girls living their white lives whitily. I don’t think GIRLS is representative of post-college “girls” at all. In fact, as a post-college person with lady parts, I find the title almost insulting. Hannah is 24 years old and she expects her parents to support her living in Brooklyn. She has an emotionally and often sexually abusive boyfriend whom she tolerates for reasons unknown to me (that face!). Marnie, the responsible one, is uptight and filled with anxiety. Shoshanna’s “biggest baggage” is that she’s a virgin (THE HORROR!) and wait…did I just hear that “all adventurous women” have HPV? Here I pictured adventurous women volunteering at orphanages in western Africa or jumping out of planes. Silly me?

Is that, as Peggy Lee once crooned, all there is? Do we just have GIRLS to represent us as females living in our twenties? We’re not women, you guys. We’re girls! We’re just taller children with hips and tits navigating our twenties “one mistake at a time.” We don’t support ourselves. Responsibility isn’t fun. We don’t make decisions based on what would benefit us in our future or what would impact others. Boys our age are either intimidating or unfuckable wimps. Oh, and we live in Brooklyn.

I have often heard Lena Dunham described as “the voice of our generation.” I hope that’s not true, because I can say with certainty that she doesn’t speak for me. To me, the image GIRLS paints of actual girls is a little muddled. I know “girls” who help support their families. Girls with children. Girls in the military. Girls who own houses. Girls who build houses. Teachers, girlfriends, mothers, engineers, wives, single girls, artists, volunteers, pilots, daughters, nurses, virgins, sluts (hey, no bad thing to regularly have sex when a girl isn’t in a relationship), etc., etc., etc.

We aren’t girls, HBO. We’re women. I’m fairly certain we’ll be navigating our lives “one mistake at a time” for the rest of it. Let’s give GIRLS the credit it deserves as a TV show, but let’s not forget it doesn’t necessarily represent all twenty-something females (people with lady parts, if you will).



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About Mary Milliken

An artist, writer, and perpetual wise-ass
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56 Responses to GIRLS(?)

  1. egghead23 says:

    Whew, I thought it was just me. Granted, I am a bit older than these girls, but still. And you are right about the abusive boyfriend. Not my type, either.

  2. I just saw a documentary on this. Unfortunately, a lot of television shows play on stereotypes, particularly ones with more men than women on their executive boards. I hesitate to say “conspiracy”, but it’s like the media is all in agreement in trying to keep women in a familiar place…the kitchen.
    Perhaps someone should write a script for a pilot about women in real situations, film it with amateur actors, and post it on the web. Who knows? It might become a hit.

  3. I’ve never seen the show and don’t particularly want to, based on things I’ve heard about it (your article, for example!). I’m sure there are plenty of loser 20-something girls out there, but I sort of look down my nose at them and think they could be doing something more productive or meaningful with their lives. When I see girls like that in real life, the snob in me says they deserve their shitty lives because they’re not even trying for anything better. I guess that’s what happens when your biggest priorities are sex and parties? If Lena Dunham is the voice of our generation, then I fear for our future.

  4. Louise says:

    I enjoyed Girls but I agree with a lot of your points about the show. From the third episode onward, I wanted to shake every one of them and tell them to sort themselves out. Hannah’s horror at having to get a job in the service industry especially irked me. The saddest thing about the programme is that it portrays its subjects as lazy when, in reality, the majority of graduates in their early 20s are working their asses off in unpaid jobs and then going to serve coffee. We’re willing to work hard and make sacrifices to make lives for ourselves. Its disappointing that GIRLS doesn’t show this.

  5. segmation says:

    so what do you think of BOYS?

  6. I’m a dude, so this show has never really piqued my interest. I have heard a lot of my friends talk about it and they agree with you. Just wanted to let you know you’re not alone.🙂

  7. wineandlifetime says:

    so funny!

  8. mcolmo says:

    Good thing I don’t have HBO. By the way…, I only watched one episode of Sex and the City and I hated it!

  9. keithmoore1 says:

    I found myself watching each episode because they lead into True Blood. I pretty much agree with your post…Girls is a good show with some solid writing, but it really doesn’t tread the unique territories that Sex and the City did. I remember watching SATC shocked at the discussions these women were having and even feeling uncomfortable at times when I shared traits with the idiots they were dating! The characters in girls have likability issues…they’re well written, but as the season progressed they started to annoy me. I actually liked Adam’s character as he progressed from abusive fling to quirky boyfriend to…?

  10. pandatoshare says:

    nice blog .😀
    i think you so funny😀

  11. UndercoverL says:

    What is this about college? Single? Random sex? What is a party? I’ve been a stay-at-home-mom and wife since the age of 19. None of this makes sense to me. I drink and I don’t get drunk because four little lives depend on me bringing my ‘A’ game every single morning at 6:00… Even if I’ve been up all night with a sick child. Now THAT is reality.

    • rootietoot says:

      Me too- I’m 47 now, but have been a housewife/mother since I was 21. I saw about 10 minutes of that show and wanted to slap someone.

      • Raven says:

        Hee hee. At that age I had a college degree and a one year old…so…yeah. I can’t relate. The sorts of ppl these show depict will still be just like this at 47.

  12. Liberto Amin says:

    Iam from Indonesian.. Nice to meet you..

  13. You’re certainly not alone in your thinking about this show. I’m much older than the “girls” portrayed and couldn’t believe that young women are still being presented in this stereotyped way. Thanks for your comments.

  14. Jane says:

    I did try to get into “Girls” because it was highly rated and I usually enjoy what HBO produces, but it definitely wasn’t for me. Of course, I am not the desired target audience — I’m more age appropriate to those “Sex and the City” girls — and although I did enjoy that show, It was way over the top too often, and certainly not realistic or reflective of my generation, either.

    Enjoyable post!!

  15. GP says:

    Reblogged this on misentopop.

  16. Red Toenails says:

    I don’t have HBO but I’m just sick of this image, period. It’s so unrealistic. Sure, it’s a show but our baby girls (and some not so baby) are impressionable. What you see does affect you. I think I was referring to the reality shows with my friend on this subject, but it applies here just the same. Love your blog, You girl.

  17. taymecanencia says:

    Oh! Girls…

  18. allallure says:

    I can definitely see why you’ve been chosen to be featured on ‘ freshly pressed ‘. Nice post & I love the images you added to it🙂 Funny yet true

  19. Never heard of the show…one more reason I decided to give up TV. I would have said “Make a show about women doing amazing things” as u suggested all the roles that various women do. But, I probably wouldnt watch that either. I prefer doing not watching. Interesting update though.

  20. “GIRLS isn’t girls. It’s stereotypes of girls, specifically of white girls living their white lives whitily.” awesome description. haven’t even heard of this show and love your rendition of its shortcomings!

  21. I have always aid all of this. There is nothing I find relatable about the stupidity and stereotyping expressed on this show. Dunham is not the voice of my generation. I wholeheartedly agree.

    Very well written piece.

  22. hangryhippo says:

    Thank you so much for this. I’m totally with you on everything you said. Supposedly this is a satire of what the “real Sex & the City” would be, but I’m not on board with it at all. It makes me angrier than almost anything else on TV and I’m saddened to think that people might actually take this as representative of our lives (those of us in our 20s with lady parts) at all. No thank you.

  23. eyeLaugh says:

    You’re right we are WOMEN! Nice post

  24. Lesley says:

    I agree completely. I watched the whole season but not because I loved it. It was like I felt I had to because there’s so few female oriented shows on television. It does have some moments and I like that Hannah isn’t a that nice of a person but yeah, I feel a bit disappointed in it. Maybe I just expect too much.

  25. australopith says:

    I know people like every character in GIRLS. Just because it doesn’t represent your life doesn’t mean it doesn’t represent other people’s lives. There are plenty of early-twenty women/girls that don’t have their shit together. You clearly miss the point of the show. I’d start here:

  26. gingerbrdl says:

    GIRLS isn’t girls. It’s stereotypes of girls, specifically of white girls living their white lives whitily.

  27. herwhoisme says:

    Your post was refreshing becaus of your critique of the use of ‘girls’. It made me also want to watch an episode or two, since this is my first time hearing of this show. I’d be remised to say yes I enjoyed sex and the city, even though it didn’t quite represent or depict me. But I rant all the time about how many developers use the wrong denotation of a female intentionally. But it bothers me something terrible. Just wanted to say great post and you are not alone on that bone that needs to be picked.

  28. euphoranyc says:


  29. I am glad someone is finally saying it. I do watch the show as a thirty something, but after a point, I wondered when the real struggling was going to happen. The reality of having to be an adult, not just having to work in a coffee shop with someone to banter with wearing a white outfit.

  30. Bravo. It drives me nuts when people start “talking for our generation.” When did I brief these people on my life and/or agree that their lives are similar enough to accurately represent me? Oh yeah, never.

  31. madhaus7 says:

    Great post! I’ve been dying to watch that show but haven’t checked it out yet. I’m glad it’s entertaining but I’m actually glad to hear someone that doesn’t agree its “the voice of a generation” say it’s good too. I highly doubt it’s an accurate portrayal. But hell, it’s a show. It doesn’t have to be. Thank you for setting the record straight. As a guy, I hope I’m not one of either “intimidating or unfuckable wimps” just like you lady parts people aren’t either whores or virgins.

  32. Pragati says:

    A Brilliant post!!!
    Wonderful lines- “We aren’t girls, HBO. We’re women. I’m fairly certain we’ll be navigating our lives “one mistake at a time” for the rest of it. “

  33. Stephanie says:

    Haven’t even seen the show, but I love this post. I find that women rarely come off well in TV. Even when the writers are sympathetic, it all tends to feel a bit patronizing and over-simplified.

  34. abichica says:

    you have certainly showed my views about GIRLS! I thought i was the only one… Thanks for sharing..🙂

  35. I love the show but I LOVE what you said about! Great post girlfriend

  36. cgraw12 says:

    Love your blog! I could not agree more! She is definitely not the voice of our generation. Our generation has much more than one voice and it definitely not just Lena Dunham’s!

  37. khope99 says:

    I love this post! I haven’t even seen the show, yet I agree with you! I loved some of your lines, “GIRLS isn’t girls. It’s stereotypes of girls, specifically of white girls living their white lives whitily.”

  38. Pingback: GIRLS(?) « the right side of my brain

  39. If I was still young, I would say…dang woman you and I are so much alike but I have a feeling you have no where near the wrinkles. I totally get what you mean about stereotypes. At 17 I was head of household. I was not a girl, but as you said… a woman!

  40. Lena Dunham is the Tyler Perry of white women/girls of a certain class. Perry & Dunham are both authentic to the insularity of their respective worlds and worldview. I’m just glad that Perry paved the way for Dunham to have creative space to share her myopia with its intended audience.

  41. catherine4rl says:

    love your post ! i agree! check out my blog, about a young GIRL

  42. YES. yes yes yes. But….dancing in your apartment to Robyn is the SHIZ. Lena got this one right. You know this.

  43. thesluttyspoon says:

    I agree with you about the pros and cons you pointed out. I just recently watched the show for the first time and I do like it. I get annoyed with some of the spoiled attitudes that come through. I do on the other hand think that some of the issues are pretty relatable. I mean, most girls, or women I know, have at some point made some pretty big relationship mistakes, like putting up with jerks when they shouldn’t. I think the show is way more dramatic than real life because, lets face it, it’s tv. But certain things like relationships and friendships and even Shosanna’s embarrassment over her virginity are things that young women go through.

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