Before I got around to finishing season two of the notorious HBO dramedy Girls, I had already read detailed analyses of the “rape scene” on all the major blogs. And yet the scene (which in my opinion only vaguely resembles rape) didn’t interest me.
After all, Girls has desensitized me to watching terrible sex. In the events leading up to the rape scene, Natalia shrugs when her recovering alcoholic boyfriend—whom her alcoholic mother met at AA—orders a Jack & ginger, and the couple go on to order several more. I couldn’t believe this lead-up to the “rape scene,” so I didn’t really buy the characters or their behavior.
On the flip side, one of the best moments in the series was Hannah’s phone message to free-spirit-Jessa in the final episode. It is revealed to us that Hannah idolizes the biggest phony of the four girls, which is interesting, childish and completely realistic. The juxtaposition of the “rape” and the phone call did make me wonder: what is Girls really about?
The first line of Hannah’s ebook may present the show’s thesis: “A friendship between college girls is grander and more dramatic than any romance.” But is Girls really about relationships between girls? They hardly appear in scenes together anymore, and the characters’ arcs are completely dependent on (dramatically) getting together or splitting up with boyfriends.
Enlighteningly, the ratings reveal that girls don’t even watch Girls—fifty-something men watch HBO. It seems that above all else, Girls is “about” whatever Dunham and her producing team want it to be about that week, and the result is more of a Twitter feed than an e-novel. That’s not necessarily a bad thing (and to get meta, it better reflects young life), but I wonder if this is really how the show has been sold.
Despite the fact that the stakes have suddenly risen to a fever pitch in the final episodes of season two, I find myself increasingly ambivalent—about the substance of the show, about the characters and about whether or not I will watch each week: my interest has flatlined.
That this season ends with the reunion of Hannah and Adam in a poignant hug may indicate that season three will delve deeper into the characters’ inner lives, and that the series may be an e-novel after all. Who knows? The only sure thing about Girls is that there are no sure things about Girls. Dunham seems to delight in the surprise twist, if at the expense of authenticity or even nailing the punch line. True to form, what we can probably expect in season three is more sex, more boys, and more anxiety about sex and boys.