I’ll admit I was skeptical of my colleague Asawin Suebsaeng’s review of Girls, the highly anticipated new HBO series, even though I’d never seen the show. While Swin called it “as profoundly bland as it is unstoppably irritating,” the show (which premieres on Sunday night) has been hailed by feminist critics as the best thing on television today. I wasn’t sure whose opinion to trust until I remembered that Swin recently called 21 Jump Street “pop art” and gushed that American Reunion was an “enjoyable” romp whose “gross-out gags are calibrated with just enough creativity to bypass genre banalities.”
“Hipsters are really going to like this show,” Swin sneered. I’m not sure how many of the half dozen MoJo interns who gathered for post-work beer and a sneak preview of Girls the other night would identify as hipsters, but we were all girls and we all found the show highly watchable.
The most perplexing part of Swin’s dismissive review is his insistence that Girls isn’t doing anything new. Claiming the material has a “deafening familiarity,” he accuses the show of relying on “tired tropes” and “recycled pathos.” If so, I’d like to see the shows he’s been watching. It’s one thing to argue that the jokes fall flat; it’s another to deny that the show’s pushing the envelope at all. In the laundry list of issues taken on in the first three episodes—”passionless sex, STIs, casual abortions, boring boyfriends, gay boyfriends, drugs, money woes, body image”—Swin conveniently overlooks what the show is doing that’s novel and exciting. Let’s break it down: