Oh, shut up about it, already: The entitlement and the unconscious racial elitism and everything else that's wrong with the kids these days, namely Lena Dunham. You go write some scenes that are as smart and funny and surprising and button-pushing as Dunham did in this past Sunday night's episode of Girls and get your material produced, and then we can talk.
Love her or hate her, Dunham was inarguably articulate in responding to her critics re: the "all white girls in an all white world" issue on NPR with Terri Gross last week, noting that she takes such criticism seriously, but was writing what she knows (e.g. being half-WASP, half-Jewish, her foursome is made up of two of each) and that she isn't yet honestly equipped to write an ethnic leading role with the specificity and accuracy that it would require (the second season, apparently, will take on this issue, and without simply plugging in a token person of color).
Once the dust has settled from the backlash and the back-biting (the snarky poster above is maybe the best of it), perhaps we'll be able to acknowledge that at 25, Lena Dunham is one of the most talented comedy/romantic comedy writers who's presently working this turf. And given what's been an upsetting paucity of active female writer/directors in the industry until relatively recently (with the stats still appallingly low), I for one am happy to give the Girls auteur her props.
Essentially a serial ensemble rom-com in form, like hundreds of such TV sitcoms, Girls is pushing its envelope on a weekly basis, with its characterization work admirably complex, and its dialogue absolutely first tier. While it's not solving all the world's sitcom problems in a single episode, it is sneaking boldly into territory that formerly hasn't been exposed in your average bear's romantic comedy. It investigates the mess of contemporary sex and sexual identity and gender dynamics with a refreshingly clear-eyed honesty that allows its characters to have their angst while making LOL fun of them.
The dialogue is eminently quotable; Jessa having sex with an ex-boyfriend who's supposedly over her, to prove "I cannot be smoted" evoked a "wish I'd written that" response in me (There are actually too many good lines in Episode 4 to cite a favorite, but the comments on this "Guys on Girls" post highlight many of the best). Meanwhile, some of the subtler work is purely cinematic and theatrical: I loved the silent dawning epiphany on the face of Marnie (Allison Williams) as she realizes, mid-fuck, that she really does have to dump her boyfriend.
All of this puts me in mind of a Jezebel post that a Living RomCom reader sent me last week, bemoaning the lack of decent roles for rom-com actresses past their perky prime. It's not that "the romantic comedy is dead" (a dumb trope that's replaced the hoary "is the theater dead?" query of past decades), but that a very specific paradigm for a very specific kind of chick flick may have finally run its cultural course.
You know the one: It stars Kate or Reese or J-Lo or someone like them, and it's about a 20-something with career issues who's out to land a man, and you didn't go to see it because you'd already seen it and been bored with it too many times over the past two decades. The codified-to-fossilization status of this particular movie is what's dated it, not any failure of mainstream audience interest in a good date night pic. If you don't believe me, go look at the box office/DVD figures for Bridesmaids.
The boundary-push of Girls is in keeping with the sensibilities that have made the small screen where a lot of the action is nowadays, event-movies like The Avengers aside. And if the somewhat older rom-com women want to get in on the action, they might look to the likes of Dunham, Liz Meriwether, Tina Fey, Sarah Silverman, Issa Rae, Amy Poehler and these other top female comedy writers (and these) to give them a new take on a viable rom-com vehicle.
If the 2000s was Revenge of the Boy-Man for romantic comedy (The Apatow Decade), the teens is looking like Game On For the Girls. And it's certainly made my watch a lot more interesting.