All of these women project such eloquent vibes of sadness and uncertainty. The authentic tone of “Girls” bluntly separates them from all the “Whitney,” “2 Broke Girls” and Zooey Deschanel bunk, or worse, the reality TV stories delivered in the Kim Kardashian “vocal fry” speech patterrrrnnnnnn that typifies young women on TV these days. Next to “Girls,” all those shows together amount to not much more than a Pinterest collage. I do not anticipate a time when young women will be trying to decide if they’re a Jemma or a Marnie or a Hannah.
One curious note: In addition to Dunham, each of the actors in “Girls” is the daughter of a boldface name — Allison Williams’s father is NBC News anchor Brian Williams; Kirke is the daughter of the drummer of Bad Company; Mamet is the daughter of the playwright David Mamet. Knowing these things has a way of making “Girls” that much more intriguing, and that much more annoying, as an already-narrow realm gets slightly more insular. It’s a little bit like the Sofia Coppola effect — which on the whole is a good effect.
And yet “Girls” — which is very pointedly not titled “Women” — has more to tell us than how lousy the job market is or how high the rent is in Brooklyn. It’s an intelligent, if microcosmic, depiction of a very certain sliver of life as it’s currently being experienced by four young, educated, white females. Like Mike Nichols’s “The Graduate,” Allen’s “Annie Hall” and Richard Linklater’s “Slacker,” “Girls” has potential to become a once-in-a-generation work that helps define a shared era.
This is not easygoing TV. Very often, the lies and disdain and explicit sex are about as appealing as the cervical scrape Hannah gets at the free clinic. As television, “Girls” is disturbing, sharply honed and even wickedly funny. Depending on where the show goes (HBO supplied just the first three out of 10 episodes for this review) and what it ultimately conveys, “Girls” could potentially affect our perceptions of feelings toward Generation Y.
The technology they’ve mind-melded with is not making things easier, it’s making things more frazzled and panicky. And the sex has become so porn-derived that Hannah’s romantic encounters (with an indifferent hipster brute played by Adam Driver) cast her in the role of willing receptacle.