The Girls of the Millennials

Girls_HBO_Poster-e1344815157646Rachel Signer in Construction Magazine:

For all the accusations of white privilege, the prudish disgust, the constructive criticism, and naïve wistfulness for “privileged poverty” that the show Girls has sparked since it debuted in April, it cannot be denied that the show is a gift to Millennial-aged women living in cities everywhere. Because the way we talk about Girls is the way we talk about ourselves. When we criticize the contradictions in the show’s plot and characters, we are analyzing our own positions somewhere amidst self-loathing and egotism, entitlement and dedication, tolerance and insularity.

The conversation around the show reveals how hungry Millennials are for dialogue about our lives and, in particular, women’s lives. The show has given us an opportunity to dissect Millennial femininity in the wake of feminism’s third wave and in the midst of the recession, and it has revealed that at least one aspect of so-called “Millennial entitlement” may actually turn out to be a strength: the ability to speak up for ourselves and assert our opinions. In fact, one 24-year-old Emma Koenig is making a career out of voicing her Millennial anxieties and mundane pining, publishing a book, to be sold in Urban Outfitters, based on her blog “Fuck! I’m In My 20s.” Koenig’s blog shares things like crude drawings of a bloated, ugly person, next to the statement: “How I feel around other women.” Her posts are confessional (the “Why are you crying today?” checklist), banal (the “I am a sucker for” list), and often naïve (the “Friend vs. Girlfriend?” investigation), and they exploit the performative Millennial obsession with social media (“In 15 minutes I’ll stop staring at Facebook and do the dishes”). Now Koenig will profit from these inane, relatively superficial portrayals of urban, educated twenty-something living. And you know what I say to Emma Koenig? You go, girl.

When Girls debuted, critics at both The New Yorker and New York magazine hailed the show’s audacity and candor, as well as Dunham’s decision to cast herself as an imperfect, self-deprecating, angsty protagonist. Finally, we had a female heroine who cared about something besides Manolo Blahniks, and who was far from ideal in physique or career.