SXSW TV Review: Why Boys Should Like GIRLS

Hulk's here to tell you why Lena Dunham's GIRLS isn't just for girls.

SXSW TV Review: Why Boys Should Like GIRLS

WARNING: THIS IS NOT A SUDDEN, HORRIFIC 180 DEGREE TURN FOR HULK INTO SOME SANTORUM-ESQUE SPEECH ON THE DANGERS OF HOMOSEXUALITY.

THIS IS ABOUT LENA DUNHAM'S PITCH-PERFECT GIRLS.

THE FIRST THREE EPISODES SCREENED AT SXSW AND THEY WERE AN UTTER JOY TO BEHOLD. AND BEYOND THE MERE ENJOYMENT OF THEM, THE THING THAT MAKES HULK MOST HAPPY IS TO HAVE A STRONG, HONEST YOUNG FEMALE VOICE COMING TO THE FOREFRONT... THERE'S A REASON THAT MATTERS, BUT HULK WILL GET TO IT IN A SECOND.

FIRST OFF, THERE'S BEEN A LOT OF SKEPTICISM OVER THE PROJECT. DUNHAM'S METEORIC RISE IN THE INDEPENDENT CIRCLE THROUGH A MERE FILM AND A HALF HAS BEEN FODDER FOR VARIOUS CRITICISM. SOMETIMES IT'S SIMPLE JEALOUSY. SOMETIMES IT'S UNWITTING SEXISM. AND SOMETIMES IT IS A VALID CONCERN OF PEOPLE LAUDING / PUTTING TOO MUCH HOPE ON A 22 YEAR OLD / CHILD OF TWO ARTISTS. EVEN HULK WASN'T ALL THAT BIG A FAN OF TINY FURNITURE. WHY? BECAUSE THE FILM SEEMED TONALLY UNSURE. DETACHED. DUNHAM DIDN'T HAVE THE ACTING CHOPS TO CARRY IT. IT TRIES TO BE FAR TOO IRONIC AND DISAFFECTED AT TIMES (DISAFFECTED IN AN INSINCERE WAY MIND YOU). IN FACT, THE WHOLE THING FEELS RATHER "PUT ON." ODDLY ENOUGH, THE STERILE ARTIFICE IS WHAT A LOT OF PEOPLE SEEM TO LIKE ABOUT THE FILM, BUT HULK JUST MIGHT CHALK THAT ONE UP TO "TANGIBLE DETAILS." BECAUSE TO HULK, ALL THE AESTHETIC CHOICES FELT LIKE TOO STARK A CONTRAST TO THE HUMANE VULNERABILITY THAT DUNHAM WAS EXHIBITING.

BUT THAT VULNERABILITY... DAMN, DUNHAM JUST HAD SO MUCH POTENTIAL THERE. SHE WAS SO UTTERLY BRAZEN IN HER DESIRE TO SKEWER HERSELF. TO BE HONEST ABOUT HER BEHAVIORS, NAIVETY AND YOUTH. THAT VULNERABILITY WAS HARD IGNORE. SHE HAD A VOICE. A YOUNG, STRONG VOICE. HULK WASN'T SURE IF SHE KNEW HOW TO MANIPULATE AND HONE IT QUITE YET. BUT IT WAS THERE. AND MAYBE SOMEDAY ALL THAT POTENTIAL COULD COME TOGETHER.

WELL, GIRLS IS THAT POTENTIAL, REALIZED.

ONE HAS TO BE CAREFUL IN GIVING TOO MUCH CREDIT (AS THIS IS OBVIOUSLY ABOUT DUNHAM THROUGH AND THROUGH) BUT A LOT OF THE IMPROVEMENTS SEEMS TO COME FROM THE MILD GUIDANCE OF UBER-PRODUCER JUDD APATOW. A MAN WHOSE WORK IS ALWAYS GROUNDED IN AN INTIMATE, HUMAN ETHOS WHICH SEEMED TO BE EVERYTHING THAT DUNHAM LACKED IN FURNITURE. GONE IS THE STERILIZATION OF THE LOOK. INSTEAD WE GET AN INTIMATE, WARM AESTHETIC. THE DISAFFECTION IS GROUNDED IN REALITY, NOT A HYPER-WORLD. GONE IS THE OVERT FOCUS ON DUNHAM HERSELF, WHICH PROVIDES SO MUCH OPPORTUNITY FOR THE REST OF THE CAST TO COME TO LIFE. EVEN BETTER, DUNHAM'S INCREASINGLY POOR DECISION-MAKING ACTUALLY MAKES HER THE "OUT OF CONTROL" ONE OF THE GROUP. SO OFTEN RELEGATED TO THE SIDE, HAVING HER CHARACTER BE THE VIVID CENTERPIECE SEEMS LIKE AN OUTRIGHT INSPIRED CHOICE, AND ONE OF THE MORE REFRESHING DECISIONS HULK HAS SEEN FROM A TV SHOW. HOW OFTEN IS OUR MAIN CHARACTER THE AUDIENCE STAND IN? THE EYE-ROLLING EVEN KEELED ONE IN THE GROUP OF IDIOTS. WELL, DUNHAM'S CHOICE BRINGS THE IDIOCY RIGHT HOME.

BUT THE BIG QUESTION AT THE HEART OF THIS IS WHY SHOULD YOU (PRESUMABLY A BUNCH OF BOYS) WATCH THE SHOW?

THE FIRST ANSWER IS BECAUSE IT IS FUCKING HILARIOUS. THIS SHOW IS ABSOLUTELY IN THE VEIN OF ANOTHER RECENT APATOW GEM, AND THAT IS OF COURSE BRIDESMAIDS, ONLY IT FOCUSES ON A YOUNG TWENTY-SOMETHING CAST. THE COMEDY IS OFTEN FEARLESS. IT (AND DUNHAM) HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO FEAR OF GOING TO THE MOST AWKWARD, INAPPROPRIATE PLACES IMAGINABLE.

THE SECOND ANSWER IS BECAUSE IT IS HONEST. IT CONSTANTLY BOGGLES HULK'S MIND HOW LITTLE MEN ARE INTERESTED IN LISTENING TO "THE FEMALE VOICE." OKAY, THAT'S KIND OF A STUPID PHRASE, BUT EVEN AMONG THOSE WHO LIKE CHALLENGING, INTERESTING ART THERE IS THIS WEIRD RELUCTANCE TO EMBRACE SOMETHING CHALLENGING ACROSS GENDER LINES. WHICH ISN'T EVEN TO IMPLY THE SHOW IS CHALLENGING. IT OFFERS UP OUR RESPECTIVE MALE AND FEMALE IDIOCIES WITH EQUALLY RECKLESS ABANDON AND A GENTLE HUMAN ACCEPTANCE. THE POINT IS THERE'S A LOT OF STUFF IN THIS SHOW THAT HULK FEELS LIKE COULD HELP BOYS REALLY UNDERSTAND THE SOCIAL AND CULTURAL GENDER DYNAMICS THAT POPULAR ART HAS YET TO REALLY REFLECT.

THE THIRD ANSWER IS BECAUSE DUNHAM HAS TOTALLY FIGURED OUT HER COMIC PERSONA. SHE HAS SUCH SUBSTANTIAL PRESENCE HERE (EVEN WHILE PLAYING VERY "UN-PRESENT" AT TIMES). SHE'S GREAT. HER "INVOLUNTARY PHYSICAL REACTION" SCENE STILL MAKES HULK HOWL.

THE FOURTH ANSWER IS RATHER BASE, BUT IF WE'RE BEING HONEST IT'S BECAUSE THE CAST IS ADMITTEDLY RATHER PRETTY TO LOOK AT. ON BOTH SIDES OF THE GENDER EQUATION!

THE FIFTH ANSWER IS JORMA TACCONE AND HIS BEING A MAN.

THE SIXTH ANSWER IS BECAUSE WE GET SOME WONDERFUL APATOWESQUE REFERENCES.

THE SEVENTH ANSWER IS BECAUSE IF YOU HATED SEX IN THE CITY, YOU WILL LOVE THIS. VERY QUICKLY INTO THE SHOW THEY ESTABLISH A CHARACTER WHOSE PSYCHOLOGY HAS BEEN UTTERLY WARPED BY THE SHOW AND SKEWER SOME OF THE VERY DEEP-CENTERED LIES AT THAT HEART OF THAT PROGRAM.

THE EIGHT ANSWER IS BECAUSE IF YOU LOVED SEX IN THE CITY, YOU WILL LOVE THIS. AFTER ALL, THE SHOW WAS AT ITS BEST WHEN HAVING HONEST CONVERSATIONS YOU DIDN'T SEE ANYWHERE ELSE ON TELEVISION. AND THAT'S WHAT GIRLS DOES THROUGH AND THROUGH.

AND THE LAST ANSWER IS BECAUSE IT IS GOOD.

AND REALLY THAT'S THE ONLY ANSWER THAT SHOULD MATTER. THERE IS THIS INHERENT CALLOUSNESS TO HULK SITTING HERE AND EXPLAINING WHY ONE SIDE OF THE GENDER BINARY SHOULD LIKE SOMETHING THAT SEEMS "DESIGNED" FOR THE OTHER SIDE. AFTER ALL, AREN'T WE SO FAR REMOVED FROM THIS KIND OF SIMPLICITY? FROM HULK SAYING BOYS ARE LIKE THIS AND GIRLS ARE LIKE THAT? OF COURSE WE ARE... IN SOME CIRCLES. BUT IN OTHER CIRCLES WE AREN'T. HECK, WE SEEM TO HAVE SOME MEMBERS OF A PROMINENT POLITICAL PARTY HELL-BENT ON WOMEN KEEPING AN ASPIRIN BETWEEN THEIR KNEES (DESPITE THE FACT THAT THEY MAKE THAT EXCEPTION FOR ANY WOMEN INVOLVED WITH THEM). THE GAP BETWEEN WHERE WE SHOULD BE AND WHERE WE ARE IS SOMEWHAT STUNNING. AND GIVEN THAT GAP, HULK SOMETIMES HAS TO DO THE CALLOUS THING AND WRITE AN ARTICLE ABOUT WHY IT'S OKAY TO LIKE A GIRLY SHOW. AND MAYBE THAT'S OKAY. MAYBE IT'S EVEN NECESSARY.

SO TO ALL THE BOYS ON BADASS, NOT ONLY IS IT OKAY TO LIKE LENA DUNHAM'S GIRLS... HULK CAN'T FIND ANY REASON WHY YOU SHOULDN'T.

Film Crit Hulk's photo About the Author: FILM CRIT HULK WAS CREATED IN A CHAOTIC LAB EXPERIMENT INVOLVING GAMMA RADIATION, TELEPODS, AND THE GHOST OF PAULINE KAEL. NOW HULK HAVE DEEP AND ABIDING LOVE CINEMA.
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