Sunday, April 06, 2014

Why Would a 40+ Woman Watch GIRLS and Like It?

I'm just going to say it. I like the show GIRLS. Yes, I am a 40+ year old woman who likes this show about 20 something spoiled rich girls in Brooklyn, NY. And no, it's not because it reminds me of Sex and the City, because it does not. It's not even close to Sex and the City with the exception that it deals with four girlfriends and that Miranda had to move to Brooklyn in the last season. And no, it's not because I am living vicariously through these 20 year old girls and wishing I was 20 again. Well, maybe a little... but not for the reasons that you may think.

Photo from

I enjoy GIRLS for the story line, the humor and for some of the very real moments that it deals with. I recently read an article by a woman who so clearly didn't get GIRLS or just didn't like it. That's fine. If she didn't like it it's clearly a matter of taste. It's just like some people LOVE Family Guy and love the off-the-wall inappropriate sense of humor in it, and others do not. That's exactly what's happening here.

There are ridiculous scenes like two girls in the bath tub together with one shaving her legs and the other one eating a cupcake. That is the beauty of this humor. Then there's the very real show about Hannah dealing with her grandmother's death and you see and hear the crazy interaction between her mom and her two aunts. Yes, fights like that DO happen! If you don't think they do then you've lived in a very comfortable, protected, lily white world and I envy you.

One of the main reasons I love watching GIRLS is because of Hannah's character. She is weird, awkward, spoiled, narcissistic, confused and in her early twenties. We were all there once and we didn't even have to be all those things.

GIRLS is such a great reminder that you don't have to love your characters to enjoy a show. Hannah has done some things that really make me dislike her, as have some of the other characters, but I forgive them because I want to see what's going to happen next and because I know that it's just a show. For example, I hated Adam at the beginning and then I really started liking him when he saved Hannah from her OCD. At the end of Season 3 I had mixed emotions about him because I could understand how Hannah's idiosyncrasies could be a distraction but I thought he came across as selfish too.

Some of my favorite story lines around Hannah involve her writing and how she struggles with it for various reasons and interruptions, like her OCD returning, the death of her publisher, and then the publisher keeping the rights to her book for two years. It seems like it is always something. I like this part because I can really relate to it.

A very defining moment in the series happens when Hannah starts to work at GQ. She is introduced to all the free snacks and to her co-workers, the other advertorial writers. Here she is, she finally has a great paying job, but she stops and realizes that all these other writers are "real writers" like her who don't write creatively any more. She tries to console herself, after trying to quit, by telling herself
that she'll write on her free time, which we know is easier said than done.
One of my very favorite scenes is the one when Hannah finally really quits her job. It's done in such a brilliant and awkward way and she shows both her ungratefulness to people who just tried to be her friends to her despair in wishing she could save them all. However wrong or right she was, I think she meant well in her usual way that comes across as selfish. She wanted to make them all run away from the temptation of the money and back to their writing. She's still too young and na├»ve to realize that what they do isn't any of her business.

The last episode brings the whole GQ story and quitting her job all together very nicely when she receives the letter of acceptance from the Iowa Writer's Workshop. I thought, "Ah! That's where you were going with this Lena Dunham and writers!"

It's in these last two shows of the season that I truly lived vicariously through Hannah. As a 40+ year old woman who has been there and done that I could truly relate to what she was going through, that struggle between wanting to write and having to make a living. I too quit my job when I was 24. and I wish I had thought of applying to a creative writing program at that time, like my cousin did. Instead I didn't really write, I went back to work full time after a year, and the rest is history. So watching Hannah in that pivotal moment gave me hope for her character and in a way it reminded me of being 20 something.

It also really made me think of my situation now. Unlike Hannah I'm 44 and I have two children. I can't act as irresponsibly now. I took this year off but I had a financial plan or I wouldn't have been able to do it. I've had my fun and it's time for me to go back to work full time now, writing or no writing.

Did I get any writing done? Yes and no. All I did was work on editing my first novel that I wrote nine years ago but I still haven't taken the steps to self-publish. I didn't write that great second novel that I had planned since before I even quit my job. Ironically, I find myself doing the exact same thing at 44 that I did at 24, not realizing how quickly the years were passing me by.

I was lying in bed with my 9 year old son recently and he innocently asked me, "How many more years do you think you'll live?"

I thought about it, "Around 26," I answered truthfully.

"NO! That's not enough!" he cried.

I thought about it, "No, it's not." And as we lay there I suddenly felt very sad.

So in other words, if any novels are going to get finished, published and written by this 40+ year old woman I better get started now. GIRLS is a great reminder of how quickly the last 20 years have passed me by and how quickly the next 26 years will go by too.

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