Lena Dunham’s HBO Series Girls Looks Familiar, But That’s Not a Bad Thing

Slate's Culture Blog
Dec. 12 2011 2:25 PM

Will Lena Dunham’s HBO Series Girls Speak for Her Generation?

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NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 09: Producer Judd Apatow and writer, director and actress Lena Dunham attend the premiere of 'Tiny Furniture' at The Museum of Modern Art on November 9, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by John W. Ferguson/Getty Images)

Photo by John W. Ferguson/Getty Images

The new trailer for Lena Dunham’s upcoming HBO series Girls looks awfully familiar, but that’s not a bad thing. Dunham launched herself onto the list of must-watch new writers and directors with last year’s Tiny Furniture, a semi-autobiographical “mumblecore” comedy that proved to be a critical favorite on the festival circuit. Now she’s teamed up with HBO and executive producer Judd Apatow (who seems to be continuing his expansion into women-oriented comedies) to bring her sardonic voice to television.


As in Tiny Furniture, Girls finds Dunham playing an underemployed twentysomething meandering around New York, cracking sarcastic one-liners (something Dunham also excels at on Twitter), and searching out abuse from self-absorbed dudes—it actually took me a second to figure out that this series wasn’t an official sequel. While I found these aimless plots about aimless lives to be slightly irritating in Tiny Furniture (more on that in a second), they should be right at home on TV. Also encouraging: the presence of Whit Stillman favorite Chris Eigeman and Tiny Furniture standout Jemima Kirke.

In the trailer’s kicker, Dunham’s character says, “I think that I may be the voice of my generation.” We then see that she’s talking to what appear to be her parents, and she soon hedges: “Or at least a voice of a generation.” Given the money troubles she mentions earlier in the teaser, I suspect she’s trying to justify living in New York and spending her time writing rather than pursuing a job that might actually pay the bills. In the context of the trailer, though, this reads as a declaration on behalf of Dunham herself.

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And as a member of that generation, I have mixed feelings about that. Tiny Furniture found Dunham playing right into the narrative that twentysomethings are staying at home and refusing to get married because they refuse to grow up (an overarching theme in Apatow’s work as well). As someone who believes that growing up has more to do with a mature and responsible attitude than a mortgage and kids, and that staying at home often has more to do with the economy than laziness and self-pity, I’m hoping that Girls will speak for that part of my generation as well.

We’ll have to wait until April of 2012, when the show is set to premiere, to find out.

Forrest Wickman is a Slate staff writer. 

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