Rebecca Barry Hill: Let's hear it for Girls

Add a comment
Lena Dunham's darkly funny character Hannah finally seems happy in the third season of Girls .
Lena Dunham's darkly funny character Hannah finally seems happy in the third season of Girls .

Of the three comedies that started last week, only one feels fresh, even though it's been around for two seasons. Girls (Thursdays, SoHo, 8.30pm) may look drab compared to the DayGlo Super Fun Night (Mondays, 8.30pm, TV2) and the glossy Trophy Wife (Monday, 9pm, TV2) but it's the funniest of the bunch. It's also the darkest. Creator/writer Lena Dunham has already proved that life doesn't unfold the way it tends to in the contrived bubble of the sitcom, having introduced characters whose lives are messy, mouths are dirty and bank accounts are empty. But season three isn't quite as dark as Hannah's cotton bud-infested ear would lead you to believe. She finally seems happy, not that it'll last.

Even in the face of Adam's ex, whose furious tirade against the loved-up pair in the opening episode ended with the line, "Enjoy your urine-soaked lives", Hannah stays calm.

The second, somewhat slower episode featured an "unremarkable" (according to Hannah) but very Girls-esque road trip to collect Jessa from rehab. Dunham seems to feed criticism directly into her scripts, not only introducing a black character (after facing reproval for a lack of racial diversity) but one who is also a lesbian and whom Jessa soon befriends, if you catch my drift. Her self-destructive streak means she could be taking over from Adam as the most selfish but intriguing character.

Shoshanna came along for the ride and showed she's still childlike but a tad more world-weary after her break-up with Ray, despite her insistence that one must have a favourite utensil, and her love of playing truth or dare.

Meanwhile, it doesn't even matter that Marnie seems to have become the least interesting character, obsessively pining over her ex, Charlie. Hannah showed her true colours (and the reason we love her) when she made out to be a supportive friend, despite her "incredibly exciting professional endeavour", aka writing an ebook, the equivalent, for Hannah's opportunity-starved generation, of a Pulitzer Prize.

It almost seems pointless to hold such unique voices up to other comedies. But Rebel Wilson's new vehicle, Super Fun Night, essentially an underdog tale about the shy, big girl trying to fit in, underutilises her talents and tries to squeeze her loose Aussie humour, which largely resides in the physical, into the tight constraints of the sitcom.

Fat jokes and nerdy cling-on types only go so far to earning our empathy. We've seen this one before. Wilson's Kim is trying to learn it's okay to be herself, which is at odds with the fact the Aussie comedian puts on an American accent, and at one point, says, "I'm American".

Then there's Malin Akerman's Kate on Trophy Wife, who is just trying to be a good stepmother and wife to a middle-aged guy who's already been married twice before (what was she thinking?) Akerman is perfectly credible and likeable in the role and sure, there's conflict aplenty to be found between Kate's out-of-her-depth stepmother status, the difficult kids and the ex-wives, including the steely Diane (Marcia Gay Harden) and the nutty, passive-aggressive Jackie (Michaela Watkins). It's also an ensemble, possibly yet to milk its comedy reserves from its many relationships. But so far, the show feels a bit lukewarm, nicey-nicey , as though it's aiming for the tone of Modern Family but not quite getting there. And I hate to say it - Marcia's kids are annoying.

Former party girl Kate and wannabe Kim feel a little underwhelming next to anti-hero Hannah, who pops pills for her OCD, bitches about her besties (while simultaneously helping them), and has normal but occasionally urine-soaked sex with her weird, jobless but hilarious boyfriend Adam.

"I don't hate your friends," he said. "I'm just not interested in anything they have to say."

Yup, Girls is still the best thing on TV.

- TimeOut

- NZ Herald

Have your say

We aim to have healthy debate. But we won't publish comments that abuse others. View commenting guidelines.

1200 characters left

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_a1 at 01 Oct 2014 10:54:57 Processing Time: 399ms