Chipper Jones' Farewell Tour Continues!

So, having seen two episodes of HBO's Girls, I don't mind talking about what I dislike about it. It's not so much that I necessarily dislike it as it is that there are a few things about it that just don't work. And perhaps I should mention that while I think I saw all — or most — of the first episode, the DVR of the second episode cut out in parts because of bad weather, which is because we have this dish on the roof because there's no FiOS in our neighborhood which is probably because all the cables from the cable TV thingys kind of float along the tops of branches in the area between the backyards of the houses on our street and the backyards of the houses on the other street, which means — or at least I think it means — that it's hard to string fiber optic cables back there, even though I saw some dudes from Time Warner stringing something back there the other week, so theoretically it'd be possible to get FiOS, but for the time being we don't have it, which is why the DVR of Girls cut out in parts — because satellite TV is kind of dopey, and because the cable packages are really expensive.

Oh, and I'm pretty sure I had to change a diaper during the second episode, and I'm still not really that quick at changing diapers, though I gather that a lot of guys take pride in being able to change a diaper like a NASCAR crew changes tires.

All of which is to say, I feel totally justified in saying that I completely one-hundred percent basically "get" Girls, the problems of which I will address immediately below.

Which starts here.

First, while watching the first episode I totally forgot the thing about how the show's creator is this decade's Harmony Korine or whatnot. What I remember thinking was, "Wow, this writer really thinks these characters are idiotic," which is a problem if you, as the viewer, are supposed to feel somehow invested — or at the very least interested in — the characters. For example, the protagonist is kind of a dipshit. Also, the lives of twenty-somethings in New York City are really fucking boring. Also, the New York that twenty-somethings inhabit is really fucking boring, like reading someone's Tumblr. And it doesn't help that the writer knows this, because then the characters seem that much less defined, and that much more stupid.

Which is why I was like, "Wow, I wonder who wrote this," which is when I saw the creator's name and Googled her and remembered the story about how she's like 23 or something, which actually made a lot of sense, because I while young writers tend to "write what they know," smart young writers will feel dumb about the limits of what they know and, in an almost self-hating kind of way, tear their characters apart. Which, like I said, ends up being kind of a drag to watch. I mean, sure, yeah, it's fun to laugh at dopey twenty-somethings, but this just kind of feels sadistic. If this were written by a 45-year-old man, you'd call it misogynistic. If this were written by a 35-year-old woman it would seem like satire. That you can see it as "autobiographical" or "semiautobiographical" gives it an earnest and ultimately kind of pathetic feel. At some point you can't really watch it without thinking about this aspect of the writing, because it kind of stands out.

That's not to say that parts of Girls aren't funny — there are some funny vignettes, especially in the second episode — but they're still just kind of painful to watch — and not just the sex scenes, which are what they are, but some of the job-related scenes and every time the protagonist tries to think of herself as a memoirist. And probably a few more which I'm too tired to correctly remember . . .

It's really hard to do unlikeable protagonists successfully. One of the strangest books that "works" in this respect is The Ginger Man, whose protagonist is such a huge dickhead that it gets silly after a while. Ultimately, I think most works of art with unrelenting protagonists tend to work better as think pieces than as something enjoyable.

(A quick aside: The more the protagonist/writer portrays herself as a loser writer who is chasing a faraway dream, the more annoying it becomes to watch the actual writer/protagonist get such success — it's a sort of faux modesty that rapidly turns into a kind of fuck you; maybe this is why people want to hate the whole thing.)

But I think there is one way Girls could really work well: Give the protagonist special superpowers to either fight crime or save Gotham from evil forces or something equivalent. If you think about it, it's perfect: Sure, the protagonist looks like a clueless rich kid slacker who is toiling away in obscurity but she's actually fighting on the front lines in the existential battle between good and evil. Now that's how you pull people in! It's like Dexter without the gore. It's like if Spiderman lived in Greenpoint. It's like if that stupid Jason Schwartzman show were actually good.

It's not too late to do this. And think about how pleasantly surprised you'd be if this turned out to be the case. In fact, you could probably make any bad show really awesome. What if all of these dreary David Milch series had a character with superpowers? Think how differently we'd perceive West Wing if C.J. used her powers to go rogue to really take care of Qumar. What if I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant was actually I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant . . . And A Superhero?

I may sound facetious but trust me, I'm not.

Posted: April 28th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Those Who Can't Do Review | Tags: , , , ,

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