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Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Girls (2012-Present) - Character Analysis

 Girls (2012-Present)

 Created By: Lena Dunham
Starring: Lena Dunham, Allison Williams, Jemima Kirke, Adam Driver
Airing On: HBO

I've wanted to talk about Girls for a while now and I felt a review couldn't grasp what exactly I love about the show, which is the character creation and development over the course of time. So this post is more so about the characters and their growth throughout the show, which is what makes the show so great. Despite not liking every character and it taking so long to see some sort of growth from many of the characters, what the actresses/actors on Girls do well is grow and adjust realistically to events both realistic and not. What the show does well is create these highly unlikable television characters and humanize them, not by making us feel sorry or even rationalizing their actions, but understanding that these are just people trying to get by and accepting them. From abortion checkups to going to grad school to going to chic art events, the characters from this show go on wacky adventures, some alone, some together, but in the end each one wraps up in a way that warms your heart and makes you appreciate the simplicities in life even though you may not have agreed with what they did or said in the episode because no one is perfect and as humans, we mess up and sometimes we don't agree with some of the things we do ourselves, but we grow up and change and we accept ourselves through out faults and that's what we do for the characters in Girls as well because in them we see bits and pieces of ourselves, no matter how terrible they are and in turn, we root for them.

And to do show you all exactly what makes up a percentage of Girls' greatness and why I enjoy it. I'm going to talk about each major character and how they've developed throughout the 4 years that Girls has been on air. 

Girls-Hannah-01-16x9-11. Hannah
By far, Hannah is the most unlikable character on the show. She messes up more so than anyone else on the show, says more inappropriate things than appropriate things at the most inappropriate times and most importantly, she's selfish. However, these things, while seemingly negative, are what I enjoy the most about her. Hannah, while immature and selfish, is charming. Not only are her constant fuck-ups are not only entertaining to watch, but even when things have hit the fan, her demeanor and candor about what's going on is what is interesting and is what keeps you watching. She's a realist, she's imaginative, she's creative. Not only in her funky outfits can you see this, but in her quick witted, humorous retorts and writing as well and while, again, you don't agree with all of her choices, you can relate to them because she's doing the best that she can as we all are doing. When we start off the show in Season 1, Hannah's selfishness and nativity are what capture us. She's been cut off by her parents and is in some strange relationship with some strange man who she seems to care a lot about even though it's not returned. She throws temper tantrums and refuses to get a real job. She cuts her own bangs and doesn't exercise, she steals from housekeepers? How can someone live like this, we ask? I mean, she uses her editor's death to promote her book, tries to guilt trip her parents into paying her rent as she doesn't want to get a job and even pulled her other friend Jessa out of rehab. Hannah does as she pleases and wants what she wants when she wants and tries her hardest to get what she wants. She makes everything about her, which is why her and her best friend, Marnie, get into so many fights, as Marnie wants everything to be about her as well and why Adam begins to put so much of himself into her. Like Adam her former friends-with-benefits turned lover, turned ex, we're captivated that someone who deep down hates herself so because of all these underlying insecurities much wants the world to revolve around her. But the thing is, the world doesn't revolve around Hannah and neither does the show, and it's only once she realizes this that we see some real growth from her because I'm telling you this. It takes a long time for that narcissistic shell of Hannah's to shed, but once it does, you notice and you're so proud of it even though it takes so long because you know she's capable of it and this is what keeps you watching. Hannah's biggest flaw is what drives the show. It's what drives our frustrations, along with those of everyone else's in the show, but it's done so in an incredibly human and honest way that us as viewers can't argue with because we've done some of these things. We've felt the way she's felt. We want her to get it together and it looks like she has now as she reads a monologue about the betrayal of her two best friends. We all have a bit of Hannah in us and Lena Dunham shows us full-heartedly even though we may we not want to see it.

2. Marnie
Marnie is a bitch. Simple as that. She's the uptight and narcassitic as well as Hannah, but not in the aspect that she cares of about herself, but she always wants to be top dog. From her tight, restrictive clothing, to her point-blank honesty that can come off as rude and commanding to her blatantly ignoring what's going on in different situations because she wants to win. She demands things from people, she demands to be paid attention to and demands that things to according to her plan and when they don't, we get the famous Marnie meltdown, in which she goes off on them. Marnie likes to have control and because of the way life is, things don't usually go Marnie's way and she loses control, thus we can conclude Marnie melts down quite often and that's a majority of what her character does and while, again, it's quite annoying, it's enjoyable to watch as we understand to some degree what it feels like to have shit hit the fan constantly. During Season 1, she loses both her job and her boyfriend and when we meet her, we kind of don't care about it. We feel bad, but do we care? No, because Marnie isn't such a nice girl even though she longs to be. She cares about everyone, but more so about what they think about her rather than what they actually feel about and even more so, about winning. She cares that her breakup and about her ex's feelings, but she's more so ignoring the fact she's unhappy and lingering on the fact that she's now alone and has no one to love and care for her which leaves her no longer in control of anyone else, but herself and through the first couple of seasons, she cannot take control of her own life.  And it is through these moments where she loses control that are the most interesting to watch, but it's where she begins to accept not having control and thus taking control of herself and her own life are the most interesting, such as with her breakup with Desi and her masturbating after meeting Booth Johnathan, but now, we have her becoming a full fledged musician with Desi in tow even though they're no longer together. While Hannah's character is more about the acceptance of one's felt and their faults, her's more about acceptance in giving up control and finding comfort in being alone. While she still hops around from guy to guy she's no longer dwelling in unhappiness because of them, so there's a start.

3. Jessa
And here is Girls' most intriguing character. Jessa is a mystery, but mainly because she wants to be. It's only in Season 4 and 5 that we've gotten a real picture of who she is and strangely enough, it's because of people who are not the main characters. When we meet Jessa, she's coming to New York from France because she believes she is pregnant and we don't find out much about her. What we do find out isn't from what she or the other Girls tells us about her, but from what she says and does. She's promiscuous and manipulative and we see this from the sexy way she dresses and how she uses her body to seduce men time after time for no apparent reason even though they may be married or in a relationship. She's impulsive as she married a complete stranger for reasons we don't really understand and she's a drug addict. She does and says crazy things and dresses obscurely for attention and she takes charge full-heartedly without much care about anyone else's feeling, but her own and we accept this because she doesn't expect us to care nor does she want us or anyone else to. Jessa is Jessa and we respect that, but if anyone else did the things she did, we'd probably hate her. Jessa represents the harshness and honesty of our faults. She represents complete acceptance of our faults, like Hannah, but she showcases these faults in a way that makes us interested in her enough to want to know more, but she doesn't let anyone in. Hannah lets us in and we accept every inch of her. Jessa only shows us her dark side and we accept it, but we can't see anything else. We're mesmerized by her candor, but she won't let anyone see the real her, just what she puts up for us to see. We can sense that she cares for the other girls in the show in the way that she lets them in more so than anyone else and let's them understand her to an extent, but it is not until Season 3 after a return from rehab rehab that we get more of an understanding of Jessa and that's with her relationship with Beadie, an elderly artist who ropes Jessa into helping her commit suicide, and also her relationship with Adam a season later. With the girls of Girls, there's this already strong bond between them when the show begins. With Adam and Beadie, there's this new connection that has to be built and it's only after rehab that she begins to make these true bonds not built on her sexuality or her own faults, but her whole self as she opens up to them differently than she's done to anyone else, mainly because Adam is Hannah's boyfriend at the time and Beadie is on the brink of committing suicide. Jessa opens up to and it's only then when we begin to truely understand her madness and love her even more for it, not just accept it as we've done before.

4. Shoshanna
During the first two seasons, Shoshanna was more of a static character. Like Jessa, we're attracted to Shosh, but we only  get a small sense of who she is. We're attracted to her hyperactivity, her witty, hilarious statements, but when we meet her, we remember who she is and the things she says, but we don't care for her because we don't really know her. And although she's the youngest, of the girls on Girls, she's the most put together. Her life, although not perfect, is far from being as bad as it is with the other girls. Shosh's main issue in the first two seasons is her relationship with Ray and losing her virginity. Her main purpose is to support the other characters, build on their arc, help them grow and be Shosh. She's all her own and makes the show pretty great, but it isn't until Season 4 that we get her. And what I mean is, she had no depth whatsoever until she went off on everyone on their vacation. In the Season 3 finale, she finds out she won't be graduating on time and her mood and charm deteriorates and we see her rock bottom, but for me, it wasn't believable. It wasn't real, but again, it's because I didn't know who she was. When she tears at all the other girls, putting out all her frustrations on them because they're all so wrapped up in their own drama, they've forgotten about her. Like me, like us, we've forgotten that Shosh is also a main character on the show. She did nothing but support them for 4 seasons and got nothing back and you can see every inch of that hurt in her fact and voice and it was there that I finally understood. That was belivable, That was raw and it hit me that Shosh is a bit of a mix of all the girls on the show. Like Marnie, she wants her way and she throws a fit when things don't go her way, she's mysterious like Jessa, lively and funny like Hannah and also like Hannah, she wants things to revolve around her, she's just too kind and shy to take command like Hannah does. She's naive, which we see when the unknowingly takes crack, thinking it was marijuana, but like the rest of the girls, we forgive her time and time again for her mistakes. But a very important thing to note is Shosh is us. Unlike how we relate to Hannah in the aspect of ourselves and we see ourselves in her faults, Shosh, like many of the people watching are graduating, losing their virginites, finding work and while Hannah represents finding yourself in the adult world, Shosh represent growing up in the adult world and finding your way and place as an adult. 

Girls, so much to say, so little time. There's so many characters I'd love to write about like Mimi Rose-Howard, Adam, Ray, Fran and even Jenny Slate's character to talk me I cannot recall, but that's too much to talk about in one post. This show is one about growing up in the adult world, it's about finding yourself and finding your place in the world, accepting yourself and accepting your faults and it's one most people should watch.

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