Pop Culture

People Are Talking About Girls

The HBO show Girls recently completed its first season. For the duration of its inaugural run it received both much acclaim and much criticism. People, in other words, are talking about Girls. The following are excerpts from such conversations, some overheard, some imagined, some, a little of both.

Forty-something female executive to her assistant:

So this new show on HBO. Well, it’s these four girls, right, and they’re sort of young, and living in New York, and discovering their sexuality and dealing with their friendships and it’s all sort of—roman a clef or whatever they call it. I think what they’re trying to do is, it’s supposed to be this kind of updated Sex and the City, you know, but here’s the thing (stabs forkful of her takeout salad in the air for emphasis)—it’s nothing like Sex and the City. Nothing! These girls are all a mess, really: terrible, unorganized, unemployed, just listless, you know? (assistant begins jiggling her foot nervously) They’re whiny, they’re victims, and the worst part is they have no financial wherewithal whatsoever—I think they’re all still dependent on their parents, actually, which is just, you know, it strikes me as very odd, really, because it doesn’t seem like they want to get jobs. It would be one thing if they were really looking for jobs and struggling to find one, because with today’s economy it’s just so hard right, it’s just so hard. (exec tilts her head to indicate empathy) They could even kind of even explore that angle, you know, of being young, in this economy, which would make the show more topical, more current, but they’re not looking for jobs. I mean when you watch the show it just seems like they don’t even care, you know? And it’s just like, you know, get a job! Wait tables, or something! You know, whatever, waiting tables, that’s honest work.

And I’m sitting there watching and I’m thinking: your parents probably worked very hard for that money, right, and you just expect to have it handed over. I just find that kind of offensive, as, you know, a working woman, a career woman. Can you get me another Diet Coke out of the mini-fridge?

(assistant retrieves Diet Coke, hands it to exec)

Thanks. So in that way—going back to Sex and the City, right, the women on there were just, they were just fabulous. And very successful in a way that I can relate to. They were driven and chic and even if they weren’t wealthy-wealthy, you know, at least they were independent. It was all about women supporting themselves, and each other—you didn’t need a man, was the point. (sips her Diet Coke pensively) Anyway, I just don’t even know why people would even want to watch this new show, honestly. I mean, it’s just a bunch of kids sitting around complaining.

Oh, you know, I was meaning to tell you—I took the accounting group out to dinner the other night, and Matt came into my office this morning and said that after I left, the waitress came up to him and asked him to thank me for my generous tip. So he leaves, right, and I’m thinking to myself, Okay, well, duh, I’m normally a good tipper, you know, but I don’t remember leaving any extraordinary tip that night. So I went back through the receipts and guess what? Turns out she had added gratuity and didn’t tell me, so I went ahead and tipped an additional twenty percent on top of the gratuity, which is just, you know, ridiculous. I mean, maybe on like a forty-dollar tab, sure I wouldn’t care, but not a four hundred dollar tab, you know? She was clearly trying to deceive me. Here! Look, I have the receipt right here.

(exec pulls receipt from her purse, displays it for assistant)

Well, yes, I see that, I see that the included gratuity is circled, there, but I guess I just didn’t notice it or something when I signed the bill. I don’t know. Wine! We had all this fabulous wine, some big, big, California cabs. Anyway so what I need you to do is take this receipt and go down to the restaurant and ask for my money back. I mean the waitress was very nice, very sweet and all, but I don’t think, I mean I’m sorry but I just don’t think anyone deserves a forty percent tip, you know?

Christopher Wallace, aka the Notorious B.I.G.:

Me and Cease, we been watching this shit and it had us straight buggin’. These girls, man, they ain’t on no bullshit. They just do whatever, like the craziest buckwild shit. Reminds me of me, honestly, runnin’ them Brooklyn streets all times of night. Except even I never smoked no crack like that one shorty Shoshanna. I done told you that, though. (chuckles to himself) “Never get high off your own supply.”

Man, Brooklyn now versus Brooklyn then. Shit done changed. When I was hustling Bushwick didn’t look nothin’ like that. You walk up on some warehouse party back then and it ain’t gonna be no rave, no skinny white boys dancing to Jennifer Lopez, no motherfuckin’ glow sticks. (leans back, draws on cigar) It woulda been my peoples, Hennessey, chronic. Probably spinnin’ my records, come to think. Shit, back in the day there was no Jennifer Lopez. She was just a Fly Girl back then. Makes you think.

Don’t get me wrong, I like the show. I been trippin’ on this show. Cease and I watched like five motherfuckin’ episodes in a row, right. And actually I had been hearin’ things about this show, haters saying it ain’t had no diversity. People lookin’ at these four white girls, bein’ like, where the fuck’s the color, right? I see they point, but at the same time, it’s like, if you put me on TV, the fuck you think you gon’ see? Me and a bunch of white boys in they golf shirts talking ’bout they new Saturn? Nah. That video we did for “Big Poppa”—that’s what it would look like. That’s what my Brooklyn was like. That shit was my heart. And if you look at that video, I’m sayin’, we had that one blonde shorty up in the hot tub but it wasn’t like that. We weren’t trying to cast no flat-assed white girls. Peoples hang with they peoples, is all I’m sayin’.

Texts from my best friend Derek, who lives in New York:

May 31: Jessa is everything I’ve ever wanted to be.

(Derek eats Chicken McNuggets, considers)

May 31: And she’s not that pretentious

June 4: I WANT TO BE JESSA

June 21: GIRLS spotting! Just walked past Katherine. She smokes!

June 26: The “Dancing On My Own” scene from Episode 3 is my favorite from Girls Season 1.

Samantha Jones from Sex and the City:

Well, I don’t watch much TV. But last Sunday night my vibrator broke, and I had to amuse myself somehow. So I poured myself a stiff drink and watched an episode of Girls. And oh, honey. Doesn’t anyone care about having an orgasm anymore? The sex these girls have—it’s just atrocious. They just lie there. They look like they’d have more fun getting a pap smear. Now, there was one juicy bit in the episode I saw: this adorable little brunette, Marnie, goes into a bathroom at a party and masturbates. Honey, go for it! If your man’s not satisfying you, you’ve got to satisfy yourself, am I right? In order for sex to be good, it has to be as much about you, as it is about them. If not more so. If it doesn’t kama suit-ya, don’t do it! (winks bawdily)

And what’s even worse is they’re in their twenties. Ladies, embrace it! You’re young, you’re beautiful, you have plenty of energy, and you haven’t even reached your peak libido yet. What I wouldn’t give to be motherfucking twenty-five again, with practically my whole sex life ahead of me. Women spend all this time fretting and worrying about being in a relationship. (wrinkles nose as if smelling a diaper) Hannah, for example. She’s all hung up on her boyfriend: waiting for him to call, hoping he invites her up. Honey. There’s so much cock in New York City. Miles of cock! Get rid of him!

I just don’t get it. Why on earth would you want to be chained to one person all the time? Especially if you’re that young. Especially if the sex is bad! There’s no room for development, no room for sexual growth. How can you know what kind of shoes make your legs look best if you don’t try a bunch on? And why on earth would you stick with the male equivalent of a pair of dirty sneakers that make your legs look fat?

Honey, all you need to be happy is a good solid group of girlfriends and a healthy understanding of your own clitoris. And it seems like you’re halfway there, ladies, so keep trying. You know my motto: If at first you don’t sex-ceed, fuck, fuck again!

Jenny Curran from Forrest Gump:

I said to Forrest: I had my wild days. Sure I did. And I wouldn’t give some of them back. The good times with friends, sitting around a campfire. There’s some beauty in the world. But most of the time I was just running. Runnin’ fast as I could away from Greenbow, Alabama, the only way I knew how. Tryin’ so hard to run it was like I wanted to fly.

(looks away for a long time, pushes self back and forth on porch swing)

I saw this show on the television where one of the characters, she said she wanted to get AIDS. Because then she wouldn’t have to pay rent, or find a job. You might not believe this, but I guess I understood that. The most peaceful time of my life was when I was dying. That’s the thing about dyin’, though. After you die you don’t get no more time. Good times, bad times, wild times, peaceful times. None of it.

I see these girls on this show. I know they’re runnin’ too. Maybe they don’t even know from what. Maybe toward themselves, even.

Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables:

(clasping her hands together and gazing dreamily into space)

Oh, I think this show is just splendid. It’s such a modern adventure. It’s all about kindred spirits. Although sometimes I wonder about Hannah, and Marnie. They seem to think they are kindred spirits, but they don’t seem to laugh together nearly so much as kindred spirits ought to. Sometimes it seems their friendship is a perfect graveyard of buried grudges. Oh, to be a young girl in a big city, far away from your family, with only the secret treasures of your heart to keep you company—there’s such a lot of loneliness.

When I moved to Kingsport for college, I could barely blow out the lamp without crying of homesickness. And not just homesickness for dear Marilla and Green Gables: it was a homesickness for the quiet woods, the glades of birch trees, the wind sighing in the pines. In a city, there’s no nature in which to get lost, and to be able to gather sweet nodding blooms and dip one’s nose in their fragrance is such a balm for a sorrowful heart.

Yes, I know all about that feeling of being an orphan, and it’s just dreadful, but it makes you brave, too, I suppose. The girls seem to have such a lot of dreams. I hope they do achieve them, or at least try their very hardest to do so, and don’t get lost in the thicket of temptation. After all, it is a perfectly wretched disappointment to relinquish one’s ambitions. When your dreams are your closest companions, they become as real to you as living, breathing friends.

Liz lives and writes in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.