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HBO’s GIRLS as the new SATC?

 
In our culture, we like comparing things.
We see it in everything, especially in entertainment. There is remake after remake, and while some are improvements, others tend to take away from the true quality, the true art that its original once owned. We like to better things that never needed any betterment in the first place.
HBO’s "Girls" is in fact, not the new "Sex and the City," despite the many claims that it is. There are some similarities: same network, same basic principle, but what "Girls" is doing for television is entirely different from what "SATC" accomplished.
Here is the breakdown:
There are four girls, women, whatever, in each show. This, to many, is the deciding point. However, let us be a bit more insightful than merely counting on our fingers to establish a point. Four is a useful number in fictive scenarios. Scenes can be split easily, allowing equal face time for characters. It also lends a completeness to a story. Deep down, everyone likes a good even number, right?
Numbers aside, the personalities vary. Yes, Carrie Bradshaw and Hannah Horvath (played by producer Lena Dunham) are both writers. Yes, both shows are about city girls chasing their various dreams. And, yes, like any other dramedy on television dictated by the female sex, there are love interests.
"Girls" is about 20-somethings, while "SATC" captures the lives of four very adult and seasoned women. In "Girls," the girls actually struggle for jobs, none of which are particularly glamorous. In "SATC," all four women have seemingly lucrative careers. In "SATC," all of the characters seem primped — prepared for their onscreen debut, decked in designer duds, immaculate lipgloss and trendy accessories. Who would actually say that about Hannah? She is dumpy — and obviously styled to be so. It is intentional. It is refreshing. She is flawed, like we all are. "Girls" talks about the things that make us, as average women, uncomfortable because of how relatable the show really is at the end of the day.
Dunham is onto something far more subtle, and in many respects, more powerful — she is tackling the ordinary stuff, the everyday, the ladies'-room, hushed-up bits of hysterics we, as modern women, will undoubtedly deal with at some point, no matter how carefully or morally we act. Whether dramatized or not, the stuff that makes up the core of what "Girls" is about is the real, gritty, faintly annoying life atrocities that women face each and every day.
Abortion, bad sex, boyfriends, ex-boyfriends, drinking, parties, implicit awkwardness, first dates, first jobs, being fired and paying rent on time.
It is nothing groundbreaking when listed out. What we see above is a simple, non-chronological order of a young adult’s woes. It is the underpinning of the mundane, the habitual run-of-the-mill heartbreaks and everything else a few naïve and ill-informed rookie mistakes entail. Dunham delves in, while "SATC" stays above on the surfboard, tanned and lithe, cosmopolitan in hand. "Girls" sputters up to the surface, sandy, water in nose and comfortingly ordinary. And that is perfectly fine. That is to be expected.
The other characters vary in degrees — the pretty, bland and spoiled one (Marnie); the wilder, bohemian one (Jessa); and the terribly lost little girl with the 4-year-old’s taste in room décor (Shoshanna). But are not all of these stereotypes pretty rampant in our midst? Cannot we all name off a list of acquaintances that fit (at least a little) these girls’ characteristics pretty easily? We have all compared ourselves to various characters with our girlfriends. It is a rite of passage, and, hell, it is fun to do after splitting a bottle of wine or two in the dorm room (RAs, ignore this).
That exact scene is even included in the first "Girls" episode. Shoshanna, bubbly and ever the romantic, asks which "SATC" character they would all be. It is funny, poignant to a degree and obviously some well-intentioned irony by Dunham. There is no stronger way for "Girls" to distance itself from its predecessor than to mention "SATC" outright in the pilot. The only qualm I have with "Girls" is the lack of racial diversity. But that is for an entirely different column.
If we ask ourselves what the No. 1 city in the nation is that most shows and movies are based in, we automatically conclude it is New York. Yes! Bam! We have it. New York is the powerhouse in this country, despite the many shows based in L.A., Portland or even Pawnee, Ind. The fact that "Girls" includes a writer in its midst is not surprising in the least. It is the place writers grow up hearing and dreaming about, so why not base a fledgling writer there and create a show around her comic struggles? Cliché? Sure. Popular? Undoubtedly. But in the spirit of our remake-obsessed culture, this scenario is golden! The fact that both "SATC" and "Girls" maintains one of these quirky literary characters is probably a plus. All writers are nut jobs, no matter how mild-mannered or attractive, and Carrie and Hannah are no exception. And, hey, crazy makes good TV.