DVD Review: Girls: The Complete First Season
Release Date: December 11, 2012
Distributor: Apatow Productions
· Lena Dunman
· Jemima Kirke
· Allison Williams
· Zosia Mamet
· IMDb: Girls
by Lindsay Brand
Published: February 27, 2013
Lena Dunham is everywhere in the media right now. On the one hand, I've heard people complaining about the lack of diversity in Girls or the unlikable characters. However, I've heard just as many people praise her for her honest portrayal of young people floundering around as they try to make it after college, or her comfort level with nudity for both her and her co-stars. Then there are the people who just like the sex scenes. Needless to say, I was intrigued about finally viewing this cultural phenomenon.
Dunham plays Hannah, who lives in New York City as she works on her first book while holding down an unpaid internship and living off her parents' generosity. In the first episode, her parents fly into town from the Midwest and break the news to her that she's on her own. Naturally, Hannah freaks out at the enormity of having to survive on her own in an expensive city. At times her behavior is just steps above a spoiled child, but it's difficult for the viewer to write her off. Most of us have faced financial ruin sooner rather than later like her, but her feelings are reminiscent of anyone who graduated after the recession of 2008 and had to face the world with diploma in hand and a load full of debt on their back.
The other three main characters come into the picture in this episode. Hannah shares an apartment with her best friend, Marnie, who is stuck in a long-term relationship with a guy who loves her way more than she loves him. Their globe-traveling Bohemian friend Jessa comes back home to room with her sweet-yet-stuffy cousin. Add Hannah's regular hook-up Adam to the mix, and you've got a whole community of people with different perspectives bumping into each other and creating friction.
Jessa has a bad case of wanderlust and finds it difficult to stay in one place for a long time. She takes a job as a nanny. Marnie has a good situation with a well-paying job at an art gallery that provides her with enough money to get by. Unfortunately, she is dissatisfied with both her job and her boyfriend and feels trapped. Shoshanna (Jessa's cousin) is neurotically naive and worries about everything, but there's just something rather charming about her unique perspective on the world. At times, the viewer can feel like they are living in an isolated world of privileged hipsters, but Shoshanna is different.
Some critics of the show have mentioned the self-involved behavior the various characters, especially Hannah, exhibit. Personally, I think it's a credit to Lena Dunham that she not only writes flawed, well-rounded characters, but that she herself plays a character that a lot of people might not particularly like. It's a risk to portray yourself on screen as a self-absorbed character -- your audience might think that is one of your characteristics. Some critics have decried the lack of diversity in her show. I do agree that this aspect needs to change. Writers do tend to write what they know, but I think Denham needs to step out of her comfort zone if she really wants to accurately portray life.
The DVD/Blu-ray combo set is worth purchasing for the television series alone, but the bonus features are icing on the cake. They have some footage from the original auditions included as well as deleted scenes. The deleted scenes are actually ones that are worth viewing. One of my favorite bonus features was a conversation between creator/writer Lena Dunham and executive producer Judd Apatow. They discussed everything from how he got connected with her artistically to his show Freaks & Geeks's influence to background on the creative process. In addition, they've included quite a few commentaries on different episodes that are both informative and entertaining.
I think that most viewers who watch Hannah and her friends grow throughout the season as they fight to come of age in the city of New York during a financial depression will appreciate their struggles and victories. As long as you remember what is was like to be in your twenties: the fears, depression, ecstasies, and romance, you will probably fall in love with this show.