The more characters who drift in and out of “Girls,” the better — ex-boyfriends, potential bosses, frosty parents. They contribute to a tapestry that smartly captures a very narrow, very particular kind of New York.
In a capitulation to critics who found “Girls” to be alarmingly white, Hannah has a black lover this time (Sandy, played by “Community’s” Donald Glover), who is also a Republican. That goes about as well as you’d expect, but it does provide some of the argumentative stream-of-consciousness that lends “Girls” its millennial-generation cachet. Sandy and Hannah fight after she needles him to read one of her personal essays and he finds it . . . lacking. “I just didn’t feel like anything happened in it,” he says. (Note to Dunham or an obsessed fan: Write some of these Hannah Horvath essays and post them online, where we can all rag on them.)
Sandy’s blunt criticism leads to one of those allegedly race-blind fights about race that used to (still do?) dog MTV’s “The Real World,” but is more entertaining when filtered through “Girls’s” natural gift for words: “This always happens,” Sandy fumes. “This. ‘Oh, I’m a white girl and I’m having a great time, and oh, I’ve got a fixed-gear bike and I’m gonna date a black guy!’ ”
Note the fixed-gear bike. That’s not a completely fresh reference, but it’s certainly of its time. That’s what “Girls” is chiefly here to do: Get down a whole world set of details, ideas and conversations for the cultural record. This creates a full, if flawed, accounting of what it might be like to be that young woman in the New York of 2013. It furthers the never-ending epic of her.
‘The Carrie Diaries’
Meanwhile, there’s not enough Visine in the world to soothe the eyeball-rolling that greets the arrival of CW’s “Sex and the City” prequel series, “The Carrie Diaries.” But even here, several artistic dimensions away from Hannah Horvath and “Girls,” the allure of a story about a young woman’s self-discovery in New York is indomitable. And, pleasant surprise, “The Carrie Diaries’s” premiere episode is a nimble and entertaining trip back to Carrie Bradshaw’s high school years.
AnnaSophia Robb stars as an engaging and eerily on-point teen version of Sarah Jessica Parker’s character, living in teenage oblivion in a Connecticut suburb in 1984. This Carrie is as introspective as the adult Carrie — and just as plagued by a tendency to sum up her world in overwrought voice-over narration. As the show opens, that world darkens with the recent death of her mother and a troubled relationship with her rebellious younger sister, Dorrit (Stefania Owen).