I Feel Pressured By Society To Watch "Girls"

For young women, and in New York especially, watching Girls is a requirement.

Today is Lena Dunham’s 27th birthday so I thought I would take this opportunity to get something off my chest. Now, I am a fan of Lena Dunham the person. I think she is very talented and really driven to be doing so much at a young age. Acting, writing, directing, producing, wearing shirts as dresses, etc., I love it all.

So of course like every other 20-something woman I was super pumped when I heard about the TV show Girls. We had all grown up on Sex & the City and were somewhat dissapointed when we came to realize that writers can’t afford gorgeous apartments on the Upper East Side with a shoe collection that rivals Imelda Marcos’s (unless the shoe collection is from Payless.) That was a tough one to learn. But Girls looked much more realistic. I mean the protagonist wasn’t stick thin and was wearing clothes from, like, The Gap. I just thought it would be very relatable.

But then as I watched it I realized I really didn’t relate to it. I am also a writer but unlike Dunham’s character Hannah I actually found steady work with steady pay and didn’t expect my parents to pay for me because I had chosen this career. I didn’t walk around expecting people to just offer me a book deal because believe it or not at 23, I don’t think I had that much to say. I also have managed to always put on a pair of shorts whenever I am leaving the house even if I am bleeding or horribly sick which even Hannah can’t seem to do.

As for the other characters, I related to parts of them. I knew girls like Shoshanna but none that played so much into the spoiled naive princess type. I did not have any Jessa-type friends because I am simply not cool or laid back enough to have a friend like that. I would have had trouble being around her. Marnie seemed the most like me in some ways though during the second season it was really, really hard to watch her crumble and basically ask to be rescued at the age of 24 by a boyfriend who had conveniently just made a lot of money.

Did I laugh out loud at the show? Once in a while. But I definitely laugh at Happy Endings and New Girl a lot more. I also remember lines from those shows (a true testament of whether I really like something or not; if I make it into a GChat status, I’m obsessed.) But the thing that kept me going back to Girls was not my need to see these character’s storylines develop but it was literally the fact that every time I sat down for brunch, dinner, drinks, coffee, water, walking across the street with people, picking up dog poop, giving money to a homeless person this show came up.

I could have been hanging out with Sudanese refugees and the show made it into the conversation. I am young, female and live in New York therefore I must be able to wax poetic on what I think about Marnie’s relationship with Booth Jonathan. If I didn’t watch it I would literally be behind the times. This is peer pressure in its truest form except even worse because it is society pressure. It’s like not wearing pink on Wednesdays and trying to sit with the Plastics. It cannot be done. For young women, and in New York especially, watching Girls is a requirement.

I imagine this is how young-ish single women felt when Sex & the City was at it’s peak in the early 2000s. You not only had to talk about plotlines but it brought up that state of women today thing and sex constantly. Plus everyone was asking women about what shoes they were wearing. Girls hasn’t been quite as focused on the sex (though it has its moments) but it certainly likes to look at the crazy side of just being a young woman trying to make it in the world today. TIME recently exclaimed that millennials are the “Me, Me, Me” generation and the show definitely captures that as Hannah Horvath is one the most self-absorbed characters ever.

But unlike Girls, Sex & the City, was not subjected to the constant media exposure and writing that Girls is. The show has been so permeated into our culture that I can’t even believe it has only been on for two short seasons. Dunham herself is a huge media presence but also is responding to pressure from her audience. Was it really just a creative coincidence that the season opened with her having an African America boyfriend after the show was heavily criticized for being too white? Perhaps Dunham has felt some peer pressure too.

Basically I just feel like my relationship with Girls feels very middle school-ish, but hey, at the end of the day we’re all in middle school. And I have completely given in. I am wearing the shirt that says “Brat!” with my Abercrombie jeans and my Sketchers and wearing a slap Tiffany heart bracelet. D.A.R.E did nothing for me! Nothing!

Reprinted with permission from The Jane Dough.