In catching the first five minutes of any episode in the abrasively hysterical series “Girls,” an average viewer immediately questions their desire to endure its penchant for awkward nakedness, both psychological and sexual.
It may appear that the show's creator and underdog star, Lena Dunham, has simply devised an overrated ladies' forum, in which spoiled daughters seek to validate themselves while they gripe about inadequate body proportions, deficient boyfriends and virtually nonexistent paychecks. This reaction is exactly what has fueled the show's popularity in the last year as it careens into its second season on HBO.
As a recent winner of two Golden Globe awards, “Girls” enchants audiences with cringe-worthy plotlines about four 20-somethings who resolve to define their coming-of-age moments amidst toxic camaraderie and self-inflicted booty calls.
Gleaning from vignettes of her own experiences as a young woman fresh out of Oberlin College, Dunham crafts frank, uproarious dialogue about relationships, sex and growing up. Dunham's character, Hannah - a tactless and insecure English graduate who thrives off constant mortification and hyperbole - delivers most of this dialogue and uses its comedic nuances as a way to voice issues that young women of today internalize and exacerbate until they instigate their own case of schadenfreude.
Whether female viewers align themselves with the reckless spirit of bohemian yet infantile Jessa (Jemima Kirke), the insincere virtue of self-involved Marnie (Allison Williams) or Shoshanna's Chihuahua-like neuroses (Zosia Mamet), Dunham provides the rest of Generation Y womanhood with a glimpse into their respective psyches while outwardly entertaining her audience with outrageous scenarios.
In a recent episode of “Girls,” the desperate-as-usual Hannah resorts to taking hard drugs in order to write a worthy freelance piece for an online magazine. Meanwhile, Marnie quickly becomes a victim of Stockholm syndrome as she tags along with an impudent artist (Jorma Taccone) for some afternoon delight and indulges in her fetish for pseudo-intellectuals while trapped inside a studio of twisted sculptures.
While plenty of the show's shenanigans surge from slapstick into the absurd, Dunham seems to exaggerate the horrific consequences of character flaws with the intention of scaring female audiences straight. She exposes their everyday weaknesses on screen and prompt introspection to refine their behavior as young women.
Though the show's emotional and physical nakedness is often mistaken for feminine vulnerability, Dunham has proven that baring her perceived imperfections in the public eye builds solace in solidarity for kindred viewers and thus molds the potential for a stronger, bolder class of women.