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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Girls wins points for taking an honest approach to the comedies and tragedies of the life of a particular type of twentysomething woman, but the fact that it doesn't shy away from graphic bedroom (or living room) rendezvous, has plenty of drinking and some drug use, and is marked by frequent salty language ("f--k," "s--t," "bitch," etc.) makes it problematic for teens. Grown-ups will relish creator/writer/star Lena Dunham's portrayal of a reluctantly independent college grad facing the harsh realities of life with her parents' abrupt decision to pull her lifestyle funding. The show also turns a critical eye to the women's friendships as well as their extracurricular relationships (both good and bad) with men. The characters aren't always impressive role models, and Hannah's sense of entitlement in particular can raise the ire of some viewers, but all of this plays a role in a refreshingly frank story of finding one's self. The show's mature content makes this an iffy choice even for older teens, but if you do watch with them, the content is sure to open the door to meaningful conversations about relationships, careers, and long-term financial plans.
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What's the story?
GIRLS centers on the tribulations of a group of twentysomethings trying to make a go of life in New York City. At center is 24-year-old Hannah (Lena Dunham), who's just gotten the financial brush-off from her parents and now faces the catch-22 of finding a paying job while simultaneously discovering what she wants to do with her life. Her best friend, Marnie (Allison Williams), has the career thing together, but her sentiments about her love life can change with the wind. Their worldly, free-spirited friend Jessa (Jemima Kirke) has just returned from travels to move in with her younger cousin, Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet), who has her own set of Big Apple-size dreams.
Is it any good?
It's easy to dismiss Girls as a shameless attempt to rekindle the magic of that more famous women-centric HBO hit, Sex and the City, but you'd be remiss to do so. Written, co-produced, and directed by up-and-comer Dunham, this series does a remarkable job of telling an authentic story of life for a more average woman as opposed to the primped, plucked, and (dare it be said?) impossibly petite versions that typically mark TV tales. There's virtually nothing remarkable about Hannah -- including her own behavior at times -- a fact that's confirmed when her boss of two years fires her rather than giving her a paying gig, and by her occasional bed buddy, Adam (Adam Driver), who barely heeds meaningful conversation before enticing her into his sexual fantasies. The final picture isn't always pretty or favorable to its characters, but it does grant viewers a refreshingly believable look at the good and bad of human relationships and how our self-image is tied up in others' assessments of ourselves.
Girls is Dunham's brainchild, but you can also feel the influence of producer Judd Apatow in the show's subliminal humor, unglamorously honest portrayal of sexual relationships, and general knack for singling out a person in the crowd with a surprisingly engaging story to tell. It doesn't promise to keep you in stitches or to jerk any tears, and its noticeably homogenous cast has garnered some criticism, but it's an exceedingly well written, delightfully reflective commentary on what it's like to be out in the real world without a clue. Thank goodness for friends.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about friendship. How is friendship depicted in this show? How do friends help you cope with the ups and downs of life? Are there times when a friend's input is more important than family's? How does our need for friendship change as our life situations change?
Teens: How does the tone of this series compare to that of others (Sex and the City, Friends, Will & Grace) that also center on young urbanites? Do you think it sets out to tell a more relatable story? Does it succeed at that? What aspects, if any, still seem far-fetched?
Sex is a frequent plot point in this show, so talk with your teens about the messages the content sends. Do any of the physical relationships seem healthy? How do the characters' self-images relate to their willingness to engage in casual or unsatisfying sex? Does a person need a romantic relationship to feel complete?
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