T.S.Eliot once quipped that television was a medium of entertainment that permitted millions of people to listen to the same joke at the same time and yet remain lonesome.
It's not quite up there with The Wasteland, I suppose, but he made a good point. Television can be an isolating medium. Unlike going out to the movies or a concert, television is most often consumed in our own homes, sometimes with friends and family but also, quite often, alone.
At the same time, it is also possible to make the exact opposite point to the one Eliot did and still be correct.
Enter: Girls, the HBO television series that has made waves overseas and which has just returned for its second series.
In theory, the series follows four girls in their twenties, living in
, trying to make their way in the world. In practice, it offers the viewer an insight into the lives of four screw-ups who have no idea what they’re doing and are, more or less, thrashing about onscreen for our viewing pleasure. New York
It a series that, I say with no trace of hyperbole, every single girl ever should be watching.
The word “empowered” gets thrown around too much these days, particularly in relation to women. Once upon a time the Spice Girls were empowering women. Pole dancing is empowering women. A certain brand of lipstick, if you believe the cosmetic company ads, is empowering women.
That much said, as a woman I find the experience of watching Girls... empowering.
I love the fact that Hannah, played by the series creator and writer, takes off her clothes at every opportunity despite being in possession of a body best described as… squishy. I don't mean that as a slam: her boobs and stomach and bum look a lot like the female bodies I see in the gym changeroom or swimming in my local pool - they just don't look like the bodies I usually see on TV.
I love how directionless and lost they are, just how little idea any of them have about what they’re supposed to be doing. Sure, they're in their 20s where that kind of thing is more acceptable but as a girl in my *ahem* 30s now, it's a nice message to here that you don't have to necessarily have your shit together just because you're an adult.
I also love the fact that none of the characters are exactly… likeable. There are lots of pretty dicky and unlikeable guys on TV – Hugh Laurie on House, Joel McHale on Community for example – we are nevertheless supposed to, well, like, but I don’t feel like that happens with women very often. Women can be cute or sexy, bitchy or sweet, desperate or intriguing but they don’t often get to be weird and a bit annoying.
So this feels like a win.
To circle back to TS Eliot and, you know, raise the tone a little bit, Girls makes me feel less lonely in my weird little life, with my soft-edged body, my sense of anxiety that I'm wasting my life and my, well, let's call it not-always-likeable personality, shally we?
But don't listen to me: go and watch this shit, ladies and gents. It will make you less lonely too.