TV Review

The agony and ecstasy of 'Girls'

The cocaine bender. The Patrick Wilson episode. The broken friendships. HBO's daring comedy is taking bold — and divisive — risks in its second season. Two EW writers weigh in.

Love It

People who hate Girls are missing the point. Hannah (Lena Dunham) and her friends are supposed to be many things — vulnerable, arrogant, ambitious, delusional about the way their clothes fit — but likable isn't one of them. If you want likable, don't watch Louie or Curb Your Enthusiasm or Seinfeld or any other great complicated-antihero comedies, many of which were created by people who play whinier versions of themselves and none of which have earned half the hate that's been firehosed at Dunham, who created Girls.

So let's run through the complaints: Was the cocaine episode annoying? Yes — but that's because cocaine makes you annoying! Is it crazy that a handsome doctor like Patrick Wilson would go for a schlubby girl with tattoos? No, because that schlubby girl is a decade younger than he is, and yuppies are drawn to hipsters like flies to artisanally harvested organic honey. Is it sad that the female friendships, which were the heart of the first season, have largely been forgotten this year? Absolutely, but that's the point: After college, some people find that they have nothing in common with their dorm-room buddies, and it's heartbreaking. That's why when Hannah and Marnie (Allison Williams) talked on the phone, each claiming they were having the Best Night Ever, both of them were choking back tears. (Me too!)

People who hate Girls also think it's narcissistic. But it actually encourages us to take a hard look at some unflattering personalities and understand where they're coming from. Some people don't like that. As Hannah might tweet, though, all empathetic girls do. And if you despise Dunham because she's entitled and loaded, consider this: that show you love, with the sympathetic characters who have caring, look-each-other-in-the-eyes sex every night? Well, its creator is rich too. — Melissa Maerz

Loathe It

A year ago I would never have been able to imagine loathing Girls. There aren't adoring adjectives strong enough for how I felt about the first season's depiction of twentysomething female relationships. What was not to love about seeing Hannah and Marnie rocking out to Robyn's ''Dancing on My Own'' or Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet) fessing up that she was still a virgin or Adam (Adam Driver) doing an oddly sexy, though unfortunate, fist-pumping dance at a Bushwick party?

But like a good friend who lets you down when you least expect it, season 2 has become soulless and sloppy. The friendships of last season, once fraught and fun, are now practically nonexistent. (That wrenching phone call Melissa references is the sole highlight of the season so far.) These beautifully complex characters have been reduced to facet-free cardboard cutouts — Shoshanna is obsessed with love, Jessa (Jemima Kirke) is a mess, Marnie is just horrible — who exist in a hipster-Brooklyn diorama without ever interacting. Adam has spent more time with a dog this season than with Hannah. Which makes sense, because Hannah has been off having weekly choose-your-own-adventures with high-profile guest stars, taking cocaine to inspire a blog post, or sleeping with a hot doctor in an even hotter house. And while we're on the topic of loathing: the yellow mesh shirt, the squatting on the train tracks. We get it, Lena. You're not afraid to show us your tits and your ass. But maybe you should get back to showing us your heart. — Jessica Shaw

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Originally posted Mar 01, 2013 Published in issue #1249 Mar 08, 2013 Order article reprints
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