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October 15, 2013


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Simon Crowe

What sort of Girls are you asking for, exactly? Are you actually arguing that it's dramatically tenable for the writer of a continuing series to ascribe a character's behavior to "being haunted by life"? Lena Dunham experienced OCD as a young woman and has been quite vocal about her desire to treat it with some seriousness. We don't know to what extent the character's situation will or won't derail the show because we haven't seen what's next. The situation with the Jessa character is more trite, but I did feel the show did a good job of demonstrating how that specific woman could have been warped by Ben Mendelsohn's monstrously self absorbed father. I haven't seen the Louie episode you describe, but the anything goes storytelling on that show would seem better suited to the sort of mood piece you seem to favor.

Making a character on a continuing series "aware of their own privilege" is a hard business, it's the kind of thing that works better in film. I think Dunham has demonstrated in public statements that she does not intend all of Hannah's behavior to be cute or funny. (I refer you to her Rolling Stone profile) I don't like using the word as a verb, but you seem to be privileging the very particular way that you want to experience the show without regard for either the exigencies of series television or for the creator's right to bring her own basket of issues to the table.


What does it matter that Lena Dunham suffered from OCD in her adolescence and wants to create work around that? Hannah Hovath isn't Lena Dunham. Amongst other things: She's from the midwest and unsuccessful and middle class. Lena Dunham is rich, from Manhattan and very successful. It's not the desire to explore the theme that's the problem, it's the way its explored within Girls, which is to say it's clumsily retconned in a way that makes the character and the show that contains her both incoherent and make too much sense at the same time.

Which isn't to say it's not well acted by Dunham or well shot. it's both of those things. It's well executed within the show, it just doesn't work on a writing level.

Karl Miller

I think there's a great larger point about cribbing psychoanalytic categories for dramaturgical shortcuts - dovetails with Isaac's earlier post about metatheatre, too. How often have we heard that Hamlet is just bi-polar, or, more generally, an Oedipal case? These diagnoses never really satisfy when deployed against characters in the past ... and while we're always interested in human struggle, the diagnostic manual often reduces human struggle and human character to a biochemical glitch. Walter White's battle against cancer doesn't sum up his story -- it's what that cancer kicks open in his character that makes the story so compelling. I'm less familiar with Girls, but on evidence of this summary it sounds like mental health problems in that story are where the character and plot halt, not where they break into new depths and changes. Calling Hamlet manic-depressive does the same thing; it makes his story and his character fold up into a state.


I'm super-behind on this, but I recently finished watching season 2 and really like this post. I wrote my own take on the odd clashes in tone and sensibility here--


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