James Franco has some tough love for Hannah Horvath, Lena Dunham’s struggling New York writer in HBO’s Girls: “Get a f—ing job.”
The Oscar-nominated actor and first-generation F.O.J. (Friend of Judd Apatow, Girls executive producer) took on the polarizing new show in an essay on The Huffington Post titled “A Dude’s Take on Girls.” Franco acknowledged the more familiar criticisms – that the quartet of New Yorkers are privileged, self-absorbed young women who seemingly live in a demographic bubble that doesn’t reflect the racial diversity of the city – but his bigger issue with the show is its portrayal of the male characters. “The guys in the show are the biggest bunch of losers I’ve ever seen,” he wrote. “I know this sorry representation of men is fair payback for the endless parade of airheaded women on the West Coast male counterpart to Girls, Entourage…”
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“I’ve read comments about Girls that said, in a nutshell, “I like the show, but I can’t see me in the show.” I feel the same way. The guys in the show are the biggest bunch of losers I’ve ever seen. There is a drip who gets dumped because he bores his girlfriend; a dad who hits on his babysitter; a bevy of wussy hipsters who are just grist for the insatiable lust of the too-cool girl with the British accent; and the king of them all, the shirtless dude who talks funny and hides his stomach all the time. I know this sorry representation of men is fair payback for the endless parade of airheaded women on the West Coast male counterpart to Girls, Entourage, which in turn was fair payback for the cast of male dorks on Sex in the City. (They seemed like dorks to me, at least, on the occasions when my ex-girlfriend tuned in while I happened to be around.)
I am fine watching a show about women dealing with men I would never want to be. I watched Steel Magnolias incessantly when I was in junior high school, and I can get off on female bonding. Done right, it’s more interesting than male bonding. I’m also aware that I may be giving myself too much credit: for all I know, but for the grace of Judd Apatow I would be just like those struggling male idiots I see on the show. And of course it’s often more entertaining to watch people be irresponsible and make mistakes than it is to watch them lead stable lives. And yes, Lena Dunham gives the female characters just as many flaws as the guys. But the twist is twofold: we get to hear the girls’ insider conversations, so we side with them against the men, and Lena is the ultimate creator, so no matter what she puts the girls through, she is always in control. Her name is always at the end, where it says “Created by.” They say living well is the best revenge, but sometimes writing well is even better.”
Funny, I don’t see myself as any of the dudes in Girls either, but that hasn’t prevented me from enjoying it in the slightest. When I stop to think about it, maybe it’s because I’ve been too busy laughing at the ladies’ reactions to such men, and enjoying what feels like a look behind the curtain of single femaledom. Like Franco, I guess I’m “fine watching a show about women dealing with men I would never want to be.”
Had you given the Girls guys much thought before this? Does their mediocrity bother you in any way?