TV review: Meeting the new girls (+video)

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Don't be put off by the bleak first episode - Girls is worth sticking with, says reviewer Rebecca Barry Hill.

The characters of Girls take a while to warm up to. Photo / Supplied
The characters of Girls take a while to warm up to. Photo / Supplied

TV2'S Go Girls said goodbye for the fourth time on Tuesday night, not just to their fans but to their girlhood.

Britta may still work as a fairy but now, at 30, this mum is married. Olivia is too. She did what any grown woman would do and married her man just before he went to rehab. On Britta's wedding day no less.

Flaky fairy strangely didn't mind her mate stealing her bridesmaids and not inviting her to the wedding - maybe she was still high on the news her dad is Andrew Fagan.

It couldn't be a completely happy ending of course. Brad stifled his disappointment as Britta said her I do's with Baldy. As for the others, Possum's mum Cody is comfortable in a grown-up de facto relationship, and Amy ... well, she and Kevin look like they're on the cusp of a joint bank account. At least until a fifth season.

If that happens, let's hope Britta's bitchy big sister Candy has a bit-part to play. She's immature enough to helm a series with "girls" in the title.

Those lamenting the end of New Zealand's Sex and the (North Shore) City, who perhaps don't like the in-your-face style of New Girl, 2 Broke Girls or the girls on The GC, might find solace on SoHo.

The channel's new HBO show Girls (Thursdays, 8.30pm, and encores on Saturdays 10.30pm) is created, written and directed by 26-year-old Lena Dunham, whose festival film Tiny Furniture earned her a fan in comedy director Judd Apatow, the show's executive producer. Just don't expect a laugh-out-loud Bridesmaids or Knocked Up knock-off, or even to like the characters straight away.

Dunham stars as 24-year-old Hannah Horvath, whose parents will no longer bankroll her writing career, and who has degrading sex with a guy who seems to get his moves from porn. Jessa Johansson (Jemima Kirke) is a know-it-all drifter who smokes weed with married men. Marnie Michaels (Allison Williams) is an uptight career woman tired of her simpering boyfriend. And Shoshanna Shapiro (Zosia Mamet, Mad Men), is an irritating virgin and massive Sex and the City fan who tries too hard.

Girls isn't shy about acknowledging the influence of Carrie Bradshaw and friends, only with a bleak, knowing tone that subverts the fantasy of life in New York City. It's unlikely to lead to Girls-inspired tours of the Big Apple, anyway.

I desperately wanted to like Girls from the get-go but it took three episodes to warm to it. The pilot is more bleak than funny. But next week, Hannah holds a hilarious, self-absorbed conversation with her unimpressed gynaecologist in a scene that suggests she's the young female version of Woody Allen.

It's not until the third episode, when Hannah reconnects with an ex-boyfriend, that the laughs come readily, and the intimacy between best friends Hannah and Marnie feels genuine.

On the surface, Girls is another show about a group of young women trying to figure themselves out.

But it's also a grim reflection of life in recessionary times. Despite Carrie and Samantha kicking through the glass ceiling in their Manolos, these girls are barely on the first floor. None of them have the lavish lifestyles or exciting sex lives of their 30-something forebears, and all of them seem to suffer from self-entitlement, self-loathing and ennui. The apartments are tiny, the outfits ill-fitting, jobs unpaid.

Instead of glitz, Girls finds humour in the seamier stuff: bad sex, bad bosses, abortions, STDs and, along the way, relationships and self-worth.

Hang in there for a painfully blunt scene in week three, when the guy Hannah's sleeping with makes fun of her fat rolls.

It's depressing but it's also refreshingly real.

Watch the trailer for Girls:

-TimeOut

- NZ Herald

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