"They Are Monsters"
The strangest criticism levelled at Lena Dunham’s Girls is that the characters are terrible people, as if they were real and the creators didn’t realise this.
Tony Soprano, Don Draper, Walter White, Frank Underwood, Jimmy McNulty, Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock, Dexter Morgan, Luther and Vic Mackey. These are all, without exception, killers and dangerous sociopaths, destructive men who do not hesitate to resort to violence to serve their egos and/or thoroughly selfish purposes.
Yet, to read the internet, you’d think the only monsters in today’s television landscape are Hannah Horvath and her friends. Here are a few chosen quotes, from tame to downright operatic:
Their crime? Being self-absorbed twenty-somethings.
They are spoilt rotten. Hannah is a narcissist, as is Marnie (who is also desperate, insecure and a control-freak). Jessa is a self-important knob with a tendency to run away from problems and Shoshanna is an airhead who thinks she can find answers to Life’s Big Questions in social conventions and Sex and the City. Adam lacks direction and likes to degrade women in the sack. Roy’s a condescending know-it-all and Elijah’s an impulsive, inconsiderate prick. Charlie, now gone, was a feckless pretty boy whose main interest was to make money and a name for himself. They are all children with fragile egos capable of the most thoughtless shit.
As is everyone you and I have ever met, and been (some of whom don’t even have the excuse of being spoilt rotten).
Before you start shouting “YOU DON’T KNOW ME,” let me tell you: I like most of the people I’ve met and been. I also know that the “being people” part is what makes us all, with no exceptions, insufferable, petty, self-absorbed twats. Anyone’s who’s been close enough to somebody to get into arguments with them knows this. I’ll go even further: if you think someone’s better than others, you just don’t know them well enough.
This, perhaps, is the issue: the girls of Girls and the boys who swarm around them are offensive because they are honestly, self-unawarely, and, worst of all, relatably egocentric. They make us squirm because they remind us that deep down, we’re all toddlers dealing with the realisation that the universe does not, in fact, revolve around us. These assholes are, up on the screen, revealing our dirty little secrets, showing the world what we’ve all done to each other in ways identifiable even by the most domesticated of us.
To those who say Girls is about narcissism, I say no. It’s about being average. It’s about who we can be when we’re close to someone, or desperate enough to bypass common courtesy. It’s about the way our own prejudices are revealed to us. It’s about all the embarrassing situations we put ourselves in and our complete obliviousness to others. It’s about all the times we never even realised we were being giants dicks.
But it’s also about rare moments of grace in this otherwise base life. For all their callousness, these kids are also resilient (it isn’t everyone who recovers so quickly from being treated like shit by their friends and family), forgiving, loyal, accepting (as are Hannah and Adam with one another), vulnerable and brave.
So you can continue to dismiss Girls as the portrait of a group of “monsters” (whilst you unquestionably and adoringly root for all the fictional psychopathic men I mentioned). Or you can calm the fuck down: you were them, once, and that’s all right.
— From NYC.