The TV show Girls returns for its second season this Sunday and while I eagerly anticipate catching up with this often funny and painfully awkward in the best way kind of show it also pisses me off. Not because its lack of diversity or the fact that it again sets NYC as the center of the universe or the fact that Lena Dunham (a lightning rod for controversy in the comedy world) writes/stars/directs/produces it. No, it’s because it follows a trend of completely unbelievable ways in which someone in their early 20s live. Lots of critics often praise this show for the authentic way it portrays “girls” in their early to mid 20s and I call bullshit. You heard me, bullshit. My grievances go beyond just Girls but to basically every tv show portraying anyone between the ages of 20-25. Listed below are things that really rile me up when I tune into Girls or basically any other show on tv catering to “young adults” of the world. I’d like to add that I actually really love Girls and think Lena Dunham is pretty rad, but I’d like a show for twenty-somethings that was as heartbreaking and painfully realistic as My-So-Called Life and Freak and Geeks were for the teenage years. Yes, I realize those shows only lasted a season on air and that is probably because no one wants to live those moments over again because it was hard enough the first time. Sigh.
1) No one is poor! I am serious. Do you know how ridiculous this is? I was broke as a fucking joke after graduating college. In my first job as a talent agent (a story for another day) I made less than $26000 a year and I thought I was rich. I was the sugar mama to my friends – the one who would buy beer that didn’t taste like piss and sometimes fancy cheese and stuffed olives at Whole Foods. When I was 23 I was still going to college bar happy hours for $1 drafts because that was all I could afford. I would get to the end of the month and I’d have a balance of $12 in my bank account before I got paid again. This is never shown on TV. Everyone has an AMAZING apartment and while I applaud Girls for talking about the rent being due once every third episode it still has everyone in fabulous clothing and at classy bars where they aren’t drinking PBR pounders but rather classy cocktails. Did I mention the apartments? I did? Well I want to do it again – because no one I know who was living in NYC in their early to mid 20s lived in a big apartment with multiple bedrooms and huge bathrooms unless they were in the seriously scary parts of the city. When How I Met Your Mother first started Ted and Marshall (a junior architect and a law student) were living in mid Manhattan in one of the nicest apartments I’ve ever seen. Yeah, I don’t think so. My friends who went to law school are swimming in debt and could never afford that shit. Also no one has ever stolen toilet paper from their job or ever thought about being evicted because they are still being supported by their parents. And they live in New York City – the most expensive city in America. I lived in Pittsburgh and I could still barely afford a martini at a classy bar unless I planned on skipping dinner so I could get drunk faster and spend less money. I know a tv show would maybe be less cool if it showed friends drinking shitty beer in a dodgy bar – but that is what your early 20s are about. Well either that, or getting seriously drunk on cheap vodka (pre-game holler) before you went out so you only had to pay for one expensive drink.
2) Everyone is super well dressed and looks amazing – even when they are supposed to look like shit. Think about the last time you went through a break-up — were you wearing make-up and having your hair look amazing? Did you wear clean clothes? Wait – what? You didn’t even brush your hair? And your eyes are puffy because you fell asleep crying? That is what I thought. Everyone looks 24-7 amazing. It’s bullshit. Again, I do applaud Lena Dunham for showing off her less than perfect (by Hollywood standards) body – but everyone else can suck it. When Zooey Deschanel (who I think is the cat’s pajamas) lost her job on New Girl she spent her depression in cute pajamas and when she started her part-time job she looks like she still shops at Anthropologie and much classier places than her character on the New Girl (an elementary teacher in LA) could possibly afford. You know what I’d like to see? Some people dressing in some shit from H&M and the Gap because seriously – the only time I could afford Anthropologie in my early 20s was when it was one of their seasonal sales and even then I’d gripe about paying $40 for a shell for under a cardigan. Also – even the “poor” people (Brem brought up Fiona on Shameless) dress way classy for being trashy. Unless it’s stolen, there is no way Fiona could afford some of that wardrobe. And for the love of god can we see characters wear the same thing more than once like Angela Chase used to wear her same flannel on my So-Called Life? I loved the fact that you see Claire Danes in the same dress throughout several different episodes on that show – it made it feel authentic because everyone has a shirt/dress/accessory that they often wear because it’s their favorite and they think it looks awesome on them.
3) No one is depressed. Seriously? Did any of these writers live through their early 20s? I know everyone says that it is supposed to be the best time of your life and while I have some good memories of those days post college, mostly it makes me cringe. My confidence levels make me cringe, the way I was around boys makes me cringe, the way I drank too much makes me cringe, etc. I don’t think I was ever more lost than I was after I graduated college. I was completely clueless about life (not that I am presently an expert) and I felt like everyone seemed to have it figured out except me. Until I realized years later that everyone I knew felt as lost and shitty as I did. Depression wasn’t eating a cupcake in the bathtub or spending a weekend in your pajamas like they show on TV. Everyone is full of existential ennui but they recover from it in the span of 22 minutes. That’s not what it’s really like. It was being unemployed for a month and a half and having my roommate come home and find me still in my pajamas watching a Gilmore Girls marathon and eating ice cream at 5pm while listening to the Wicked Soundtrack (it was a dark time y’all). It was calling my mom every day at lunch from my shitty office temping job (that’s right — not everyone works in an art gallery or a publishing house) because I didn’t have anyone else to talk to and felt like a loser eating alone. It was bursting into tears listening to really bad music and drinking inappropriate amounts of alcohol. Sigh.
4) All everyone cares about is sex. False. I didn’t even have a serious “like” life in my early 20s. I was awkward as shit with guys I liked and I never met anyone I wanted to see more than once (zing) romantically at a bar. None of my friends ever banged each other or each others boyfriend/girlfriend and created drama in our group and no one was a super whore. Not saying my friends and I were prudish by any means (I could tell some stories) – but our lives didn’t revolve around “finding love” or a serious boyfriend but rather around figuring out what the fuck to do with our lives. It was hard enough trying to make myself happy – no way I was going to attempt to make anyone else happy.
Sometimes I think I should just write a tv show and make it about my early 20s experience but after reading the above rants I think perhaps no one would want to watch it because it might be too depressing. But you feel me, right? Were your early 20s magical? Were you full of confidence, drinking martinis, dressing classy and being awesome? If so, congratulations — I suspect you are the minority and you’re probably too cool to actually be my friend.
Random Thought – What does Ryan Gosling see in Eva Mendes? She is hot but she definitely seems like a bitch, right? I wish he’d just get back together with Rachel McAdams and have beautiful, talented, amazing Canadian babies.