I have recently become obsessed with HBO’s Girls. If that doesn’t ring a bell, maybe the name Lena Dunham – belonging to the show’s creator, writer, producer, director and lead actress – will. Within the last few months her popularity has surged dramatically. I wasn’t aware of her existence until this year’s Golden Globes, at which the show won best television series. This spurred my interest enough to purchase season 1 on iTunes, which i devoured in two days. Now, I have [successfully] converted nearly all of my friends into fans.
I could go on explaining different theories behind the show’s success, but I will leave it at this: it is relatable. It’s a show about young ladies (aged 21-25) navigating life at a time that is simultaneously crucial, awkward, and impossible. People of my generation are going through this period of our lives; the older folk reminisce of that period… and praise a higher power that it is over.
Girls follows the lives of recent college graduates (and roommates) Hannah Horvath and Marnie Michaels, college student Shoshanna Shapiro, and resident bohemian Jessa Johansson. The first episode struck an intimate chord with me as I, like Hannah, rely almost completely on my parents in a financial sense. As the episode and the season progresses, i can certainly see characteristics of myself in each character, but only one has stuck with me past Sunday at 9:30.
This clip is my favorite blip from the pilot, but it is here because Shoshanna and I both wear “hats.”
Marnie is a beautiful, driven career-woman, and the only problems she has are ones she seems to create. This plagues her entirely too frequently in season 1, and the audience unfairly doesn’t get to see her in a positive light. Her insecurities are bright and on display and overshadow all of her early success (e.g. doting boyfriend, uber-cool job at an art gallery, financial independence on a Bachelor’s degree). It isn’t until season 2 where her life begins to crumble around her that Marnie is allowed to become a two-dimensional character.
I have loved Marnie from the beginning. Where Hannah was too self-involved (as all of the girls are, but she – unlike the other three – is oblivious), Jessa tried to hard by not trying at all, and Shoshanna only served to make me LOL, Marnie was the only girl who seemed to have it together, and that is wildly encouraging at this point in my life. My love for Marnie comes largely from our similarities that i (and some friends) have noticed. Unfortunately, our shared characteristics are only the negative ones. At least that is how they are portrayed.
What I hate about myself I see in Marnie and she seems to hate as well. As she tells Jessa in multiple episodes, she is not as uptight as she seems.
“That isn’t fun for me. Do you realize that? Being the uptight girl? I hate it. Charlie had to find someone else to go to Rome with. No one ever asks me to get, like, friendship tattoos or whatever. Sometimes being inside my own head is so exhausting that it makes me want to cry.”
While I love that as “grown-up” as Marnie thinks she is, she still uses speech-fillers, her touching monologue brings something else to light. Marnie is aggressive in what she wants and what she thinks, while she is not so forthcoming with feelings. Her way of showing she cares is controlling the situation where her friends are, at the very least, informed of the consequences even if she cannot control their actions.
And Marnie touches on something that I deal with far too often. She comes from a place of love, but her actions are interpreted by those around her as aggressive, uptight, and bitchy. To which I have to ask, when did wanting the best for yourself and others become dishonorable? Why should she feel guilty for upholding standards and pushing friends to their potential?
This is something Marnie struggles with even more throughout season 2, and culminates beautifully in the finale. I don’t want to give anything away for the slew of Girls-aholics that will inevitably result from this post, but trust me. Even as we see problems actually arise and create cracks in Marnie’s previously wonderful life, she evolves into a happier and satisfied young woman. Has she reached the end of this journey? Of course not, but as she accurately puts it, “i’m on a journey. it’s my journey, and i am okay.”
As easy as it would be to argue that Marnie is regressing (or “flailing” as it is frequently put on the show), she is the only character to reach any emotional maturity and find satisfaction in a highly unstable time in her life. That should count for something. And in comparison to the other “girls,” she is doing really good, even if “being really good all the time feels really bad.”
Thank you, Marnie, for your fictional presence. For being the resident bitch. For having a rough year, but not completely losing it like your counterparts (I’m looking at you, Jessa and Hannah). For giving me a little bit of validation. And, most importantly, for being happy. With season 3 currently in the works, I can only hope you are enjoying yourself.
*All quotes are from the character of Marnie.