Everyone has an opinion about HBO’s “Girls.” Seriously. Everyone, even your mother-in-law, who doesn’t subscribe to HBO but read about the show in a copy of the New Yorker that was sitting in her dermatologist’s office.
Since the premiere this spring of the Lena Dunham series, the Internet has been overrun with think pieces, in-depth recaps and analytical podcasts attempting to determine what this show says about our culture.
In a blog post entitled, “A Dude’s Take on Girls,”Franco shared his thoughts about Dunham’s character, the much-discussed issue of how the series handles race and why all the characters on this show are total jerkholes.
Now, it’s easy to pick on Franco, who has become the male blogosphere-snark-inducing equivalent of Gwyneth Paltrow. Perhaps that’s why, in this essay, Franco points out that, “Internet discussions about nothing are all too prevalent these days.” He knows what he’s just written about “Girls,” will indeed prompt another Internet discussion about nothing. Oh, Franco knows. He always knows.
But even if the prose in the piece is, at times, as semi-wobbly as his one-time Oscar co-host Anne Hathaway’s voice in the “Les Miserables” trailer, the core sentiment he expresses is one that I share: That he watches “Girls” religiously, yet often feels conflicted about doing so.
For one thing, Lena Dunham’s character, Hannah, is kind of a do-nothing whiner: “There was a point, right before Judd cast me in ‘Freaks and Geeks,’ when my parents cut me off because I wanted to go to acting school instead of UCLA,” Franco says, referring to Judd Apatow, who also happens to be executive producer of “Girls.” “I worked at McDonalds, and my first suggestion to Hannah would be this: get a [expletive] job. If you really want to have experiences to write about, go to work; and if you really want to be an artist, take responsibility for yourself and wait some tables. You might mature a little in the process.”
But at the same time, he admires Dunham for being a take-charge type in real life: “A young woman who does it all on a show that is on everyone's lips — that sounds pretty great to me.”
On one hand, he kind of agrees that the kerfuffle about the lack of diversity on the show is “a controversy over nothing: people just need something to write about on the Internet.”
On the other, he thinks the show has an obligation to explore a broader experience than one that involves only white women. “I guess all I have to say about the topic is that, because TV is such a popular medium, HBO has a responsibility to represent its subjects accurately, especially when the network is selling a show as a representation of young New York.”
He think the male characters on the show are an unholy mess of pseudo-hipster toolboxes. (Franco: “The guys in the show are the biggest bunch of losers I’ve ever seen.”)
But he also acknowledges that, hey, we’re all a few missteps away from being a pseudo-hipster toolbox. (Well, not Adam. None of us are a few missteps away from being Adam because that dude is just creepy.)
Says Franco, in self-deprecating mode: “I'm also aware that I may be giving myself too much credit: for all I know, but for the grace of Judd Apatow I would be just like those struggling male idiots I see on the show.”
In the end, Franco doesn’t reach any important conclusions about ”Girls,” but it sounds like he’ll be tuning in again come this Sunday, as will I, albeit on a DVR delay due to my MTV Movie Award and “Mad Men” obligations. And really, isn’t it reassuring to know that somewhere out there, at roughly the same time as the rest of us, Franco also will be watching the latest episode of this over-analyzed HBO series and saying to himself: “I really enjoy watching this show. Wait, why is that again? Whatever. I’ll just watch and figure it out later.”