Kareem Abdul-Jabbar guest starred in one episode of Full House 18 years ago. He KNOWS comedy. So it’s about time the NBA Hall of Famer, who also occasionally writes for the Huffington Post, and by occasionally, I mean his last story for the news aggregate giant was in 2010, weighs in on this whole Girls thing.
Girls wants to tell us something important about twentysomething females of the 21st Century. And, as the elders of our society, we should always be listening to those new voices crying out.
But what are they telling us? (Via)
They’re telling us life often careens, Kareem, out of control. Sorry, just watched Airplane! for the 59th time.
1. Their world is mostly white.
Last season the show was criticized for being too white. Watching a full season could leave a viewer snow blind. This season that white ghetto was breached by a black character who is introduced as some jungle fever lover, with just enough screen time to have sex and mutter a couple of lines about wanting more of a relationship. A black dildo would have sufficed and cost less.
From Dildopolis, no less. There are a lot of things to not like about Girls, some of which Kareem will mention later, but this isn’t one of them. Lena’s writing what she knows, and what she knows is: white people. I actually liked the Glover storyline because she was trolling her critics, which is something I’m always onboard with. The arc, if you want to call it that, was kind of dumb and way too brief, but Marnie LEAVING HER NEW JOB IN THE MIDDLE OF HER SHIFT TO SLEEP WITH A SLEAZEBAG ARTIST is much worse than an underwritten black Republican.
2. They like to talk about (and sometimes engage in) sex.
It’s like a checklist of being naughty: masturbation (check), sex during period (check), oral sex (check), anal sex (check), virginity (check), etc. The show is actually at its most engaging during these awkward, fumbling, and mostly embarrassing (for the characters) scenes. The characters talk boldly about sex, but their actions are often shy and unsatisfying. The contrast of the generation that’s been taught that pretty much anything goes sexually trying to act cool while struggling with their vulnerabilities is generally fresh and original and insightful about this generation.
I think he’s being complimentary here? It was all a blur after “sex during period.” KAJ is a master of the dirty talk.
3. They’re too self-conscious, too cutesy, and not that funny.
We’re supposed to find these girls somehow charming because of their flawed characters. Their intense self-involvement is meant to be cute and it can be… at times. But not enough to overcome our impatience with their inability to have any personal insight. They’re all educated but fatally ignorant.
I think that’s the point, though. You’re not supposed to root for Hannah. She’s an idiot who makes terrible life choices, because she’s a spoiled narcissist. Here’s a visual representation:
Kareem is Hannah, Bruce Lee is what people want to do to Hannah.
When it takes itself seriously is when it stumbles. I just wish it would express its seriousness by being funnier. Seinfeld made it a point to ridicule the characters’ shallowness and self-involvement, raising it to a level of social commentary. And it was funny. Two other girl-centric shows that reached these same heights to be voices of a generation were My So-Called Life and Wonderfalls. Both funny, yet also insightful and original. Perhaps that’s why they both only lasted one season before becoming cult hits. Girls, a safer more mousy voice, has already been renewed for a third season.
OK, that makes sense. You have my attention, Mr. Tall Guy. Nice work on the Wonderfalls reference, too.
4. The guys are more interesting than the girls.
Adam, Hannah’s (Lena Dunham) abrasive boyfriend, is a wonderful character whose quirkiness never diminished his depth of character. The episode in which he performs in the one-man show is brilliant. Charlie, Marnie’s ex-boyfriend, is a complex mix of too stable and too nice. The fact that he’s dumped by a girl who is actually more boring and shallow than she claims he is, makes for some excellent social commentary, although that seems like an accidental byproduct. Could it be that Dunham actually is better at writing guy characters than girl characters?
Possibly. Stay tuned for next week’s Girls column, when Vlade Divac picks up where Abdul-Jabbar left off.