Being 20-something tends to be romanticized. Despite the appeal of independence, finally integrating into the ‘real world,’ or the overall fulfillment that’s found in the process of becoming who you are, there is also something to be said for the infamous ‘quarter-life crisis.’
It peaks as recent graduates navigate the stressors of post-college life, a bleak economy, and the complexities of romantic relationships. As someone who’s going through the motions, I began to view being this age as a time akin to a second stage of puberty — a little awkward and a little terrifying.
Lena Dunham, 25, created and stars in “Girls,” a television series that tells the story of four 20-somethings finding out that the ‘real world’ doesn’t exactly resemble Sex and the City. Instead of Carrie Bradshaw’s glamorous Manhattan lifestyle, these girls live in Brooklyn, wearing clothes from thrift stores and opting for the affordable beer over a cosmopolitan.
In an interview on hitflix.com, Dunham and co-producer Jenni Konner address the inevitable comparison to Sex and the City. They suggest that the tone of “Girls” is vastly different because the ideas and goals of women in their early 20s are not the ideas and goals of women in their 30s.
The title of the series is also a bit ironic and ‘tongue in cheek.’ Despite these young women being young adults trying to come into their own, they’re faced with that pubescent-like struggle and still identify themselves as “girls.” They’re in one of life’s transitional chapters and still a bit scared to grow up. “I don’t think that they feel like women,” Dunham says. “It’s less about how the world views them, but I think that these are girls who will feel like girls until they’re 35 maybe.”
The show tackles a few generational issues that many in their 20s will surely find topical, if not downright relevant. In the first few episodes we see Hannah, Dunham’s character, leave her unpaid internship at a publishing company because her parents are no longer going to support her financially; face rejection at an awkward job interview; sift through the emotional ups and downs of seeing a guy who ignores her text messages; and acquire an STD, while dealing with the traumatic aftermath of confronting an old boyfriend.
Dunham believes the characters’ experiences are universal, as opposed to plots that are series-specific. “In terms of the universality with the show, something I learned through the process of putting out “Tiny Furniture” was that things that feel super personal actually feel really universal,” she says. “It’s sort of the more you really identify something specific within yourself, the more people connect to it because ultimately we are all connected in some way.”
While there are scenes that can easily induce cringing and make viewers uncomfortable, that’s all the more reason why “Girls” should be successful. After all, maneuvering through the 20s is uncomfortable. It’s refreshing to see a show attempt to hone in on those not-so-Sex and the City-esque realities and join us on this bumpy ride.