Judging HBO’s “Girls” by it’s cover

They say don’t judge a book by it’s cover because you may miss out on something inside. However, there are times where your gut reaction to a book cover turns out to be correct.

So indulge me as I judge a TV Show I have not watched by some bad reviews by J. Maureen Hendersen of Forbes, Nina Bahadur of HuffPost Women, and Dustin Rowles of Pajiba.com— all decidedly not fans of HBO TV Show Girls.


Bahadur of HuffPost says her “mild dislike turned into a strange kind of loathing for “Girls”…. I couldn’t figure out quite what it was that bothered me.”

Hendersen of Forbes writes article How HBO’s ‘Girls’ Gets Everything About Millennial Life, Like, So Totally Wrong, where she criticizes the show for it’s lack of diversity, and unreal depiction of an all-white, unambitious, privileged urban tribe. In response to her article comments Hendersen says “the show is wrongly held up as universally relevant and reflective [of a generation]”

Dustin Rowles: “They have a safety net of wealth to break their falls…They feel they have the right to accept the money but reject the lifestyle, reject the choices their parents made to earn the money, and reject all the strings that are associated with wealth.

Somehow this is supposed to be interesting?

“It makes me — and other like-minded viewers — furious, furious because they don’t take advantage of their money, of their education, and of their socioeconomic position… They’re spitting out the silver spoon, scuffing it up, scraping off the polished finish and putting it back into their mouths. They want to go it alone, but not really. What they really want is the illusion of going it alone.


Many things are off according to critics, but it sounds like the greatest thing Girls has going against it is diversity. Any diversity— ethnic, culture, religion, background, socioeconomic status. Since apparently Girls found this unnecessary in portraying Millennials, they now have the enormous task of trying to incorporate a few “token” diverse characters, whether it be religious, ethnic, socioeconomic. Diversity breaks down the barriers of our own existence. The show seems to be so boxed in to one view, that an outsider may prove to undermine the whole premise of the show. An outsider may not find a Rowles aforementioned “scuffed up silver spoon” as interesting, and would pop the privileged bubble in which the Girls have been formed. Girls, has been praised by some for “getting Millennials”, but they clearly don’t, and anyone outside the same tribal-bubble will fail to see it.


This is a rhetorical question that I haven’t had a chance to analyze or answer yet. Why does Millennial entertainment so far miss the mark so badly? In a previous post I write some of my thoughts on CNN article The novel America needs in 2013, in which author Mark Bauerlein describes how Millennials continue to be drawn to irrelevant and inauthentic entertainment. We are stuck. Girls shows that we haven’t found “it” yet.

GIRLS #voiceofageneration

I guess my challenge to Millennials (even if you enjoy Girls) is to at least keep up the hard work of self-examination. Who are Millennials, and how we identify this generation? Keep an eye out for a show, or novel, that truly “gets it”.

In the words of Nina Bahadur: “Maybe [Dunham] is a voice of a generation — but she doesn’t speak for me.”

5 thoughts on “Judging HBO’s “Girls” by it’s cover

  1. Interesting take on this Rachel. I have read numerous reviews, some positive, some negative. I don’t know how much this show does encapture our generation. It is so hard to try and capture our generation. Maybe we need to wait and see if they come up with a show like “That 70’s show” maybe it’ll be “That 2010s show”

  2. I’ll be watching for “That 2010s Show”. I think there will be a show dubbed ‘sooo millennial’ but I don’t think it’s arrived yet. I think we’ll know it when we see it, though. Thanks for your thoughts!

  3. Great read, I actually had some of the very same trepidations about watching the show because I read all the negative reviews (and the positives) of the show when it premiered last year. Well about a week ago I decided to bite the bullet and watch the entire season 1 on demand for about 5 hours. Yes, I had a Girls marathon and I’m not proud of it but it had to be done, if not for the very simple reason that I needed to satisfy my curiosity about it being “the voice of a generation.”

    Well after watching it, and I know this is a cop-out, I have to say that all the criticisms of the show are correct and all the praise of the show is correct.

    I don’t want to blow up your blog with a length comment because to get to all I want to say will probably take a blog post of my own (which I may do in the near future). But lets just say as an african-american millennial who grew up in the kinds of social circles that the characters of Girls represent, and is also privileged in his own right, I have mixed reactions to the show.

    Like you I’m all about cultural trends, philosophy, and I’m probably into politics and religion too much; but I’d love for you to follow my blog and twitter and we can discuss the craziness of our generation. Cheers.

    • Thanks for your thoughts on this. Actually I agree with you, as far as I’m sure it is entertaining, and good writing. I think I’m having the same recoiling others are having over the thought of Girls being announced as “a voice of a generation”. I would be glad to follow your blog.

      Also, don’t be fooled by my WASPy appearance, I actually grew up in what HuffPost just called the most diverse area in the U.S. so diversity is something of a norm to me. (I don’t mean that to be braggy? lol) I mean I am thoroughly white-anglo-saxon-protestant, but I was definitely the only white kid in many of my classes growing up, so I think I have a slightly different perspective. In a weird way it is part of my identity, even though I’m white. I dedicated a paragraph criticizing lack of diversity (of any kind) because to me it’s so not Millennial. Anyway– I’m sure a show out there will get it right eventually.

      Thx for follow!

  4. Pingback: We Do Not Know Struggle, but We Do Have a Voice | entitled millennial

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