Girls Is From Mars, Women Are From Venus
I like that Girls exists. I like its style, I like Jemima Kirke in general, I like women who make things that aren’t cute, I like seeing regular-looking naked people, and I like anything that reminds me of “Scotty Doesn’t Know.” I also don’t enjoy watching Girls, even though in theory it’s right up my alley, because I feel like I am from a planet that’s very distant from the one that the girls in question live on. This could be because I’m 29 and when I graduated from college life looked different; it could be because I live on another coast that’s way more chill, or because — though I’ve definitely had to ask my parents for financial and emotional support since I graduated from school — I come from a different mind-set than Hannah Horvath. I’m married, but even if I weren’t, I would not have sex with Adam Driver’s character because it looks like he’s wearing a muscle shirt made of his own skin and he’s a total asshole. I would not show up at my parents’ hotel room on drugs and beg them for money. I’d rather die. If I sit down in the shower, it’s not to eat a cupcake, and it’s not while staring up at my pal’s lady parts. That struck me as odd. It struck everyone as odd. It’s OK to be odd, but it pushes the canoe further into unrelatable waters filled with tampons, art gallery people, and cute sweaters with apples and peaches on them.
I did not relate to Sex and the City, either, because the shoes I own cost $28 and have holes in them (and that’s how I like shoes — they touch the ground, and my feet, neither of which are platforms for things that cost more than $100), but I never felt like I was supposed to relate to it — watching it was like going to the zoo and looking at people who dressed like dolls and had rampant anal sex. That was fun. With Girls, however, there’s an implication that we should all be able to relate to A Voice of Our Generation, and I just don’t know anybody like these people. Even the men seem like another species: “Brigitte Bardot’s face and Rihanna’s ass,” give me a break. The one character in whom I see glimpses of myself is the dude who gave that monologue about how awesome McDonald’s is, but even he has started to creep me out with his antisocial commentary and willingness to snoop through other people’s belongings to find their journals. I find the tone of the show to be so cynical that I think of Louie as an “uplifting” program. I don’t want to be anyone I see on-screen: I don’t want to be Shoshanna, I don’t want to be home-wrecking Jessa, I don’t want to be evil, callous Marnie or Hannah (least of all Hannah!). Does that matter? Not particularly. They don’t exist to make me want to be them, or to represent all races and classes of women, or to do anything other than present a viewpoint that is not often shown on television (maybe because it makes a lot of regular people go, “Noooo! Don’t do that! Don’t put your boss’s hand on your breast! Don’t babysit for a family the structure of which you are slowly calculating to destroy! Don’t tell that guy you’re a virgin right now! Don’t have sex with your ex-boyfriend to entice him back into a relationship with you and then break up with him again right after he has an orgasm! Don’t waste that $6 cupcake in your disgusting shower! Don’t have sex with Adam Driver and his abdominal-muscle sweater! Don’t say things that make you seem like such a horrible person! Save it for the diary we know you have! Save it for thoughts you spritz away in your mind’s bidet!”).
Maybe this is how people are now. Who am I to say? I didn’t tweet during my first summer after graduation, and the one time someone sexted me (an anonymous person whose number and image I didn’t recognize — I think it was the sexting equivalent of phishing scam — I threw my phone against the wall in knee-jerk repulsion and broke it and had to get a new one. Even in the halcyon days of blog-as-life, I was (I now see) already a sort of happily mentally-middle-aged lady who preferred to get wine-tipsy at home and feel like a terrible failure because I had no health insurance, not a person who wore harem pants out on the town to do out-on-the-town adventurous things. That’s the opposite of boasting; I would not watch a show about myself. I don’t even really want to hear my opinions about Girls, and think you probably don’t, either, because I am not really a girl anymore. If girls are like Girls, however, yikes.
On last week’s episode, there was a flashback to Oberlin in 2007. That was the one moment (OK, fine, besides the eyebrow pencil moment, and maybe the gay-ex-boyfriend moment) that felt somehow optimistic to me: The last squint into the adolescent sunset, an image of universally understood collegiate behavior (stuck to the pole, high on drugs, people in that phase during which they think the “natural oils” in their hair really should stay in their hair for weeks because it makes them look like Albert Hammond Jr.). It encapsulated a past we could agree on. Usually when I can’t get where women are coming from on a show, I glue my point of view onto one of the men (who seem less saddled with the baggage of having to represent their gender and more often — sadly, unfairly for women — just stuck with representing people in general). But Girls? I got nothin’. This is probably how our parents felt about My So-Called Life, but dude, I’m not even 30 and I feel like a man out of time. Doesn’t anyone have to wait tables anymore? Doesn’t it snow in New York City, don’t you have to walk six miles carrying a backpack full of rocks? Didn’t a pickle and a soda cost a nickel? Weren’t people ever not horrible? No? OK. Fine. I’ll just sit here in my rocking chair and remember it that way, then.
This essay originally appeared on Wipe Your Feet. Republished with permission.