Plenty of arguments have been raised in North Brooklyn bars and on various blogs (and probably outside of those places too, but my own world is very small) about Lena Dunham’s controversial HBO series GIRLS. I have chosen not to get involved with most because, I mean, it’s a tv show. If you don’t like it, don’t watch it, right? And I kind of like it. And also there are better things to debate than tv shows that you can really only watch if you or your parents have an expensive cable package.
And, maybe it’s vanity, but I admit I enjoyed watching these girl characters experience some similar things to instances in my own life since I moved to New York. I’ve sat at brunch with my girlfriends talking about plenty of these exact same things for years… now our tribe has a voice, or something? Cool. There are parts that are refreshingly real, and many others that feel kind of harsh and embarrassing to watch happen… like, how it feels when I forget to look in a mirror before I leave the house and several hours later see my reflection in the computer screen at work or in a dressing room or a restaurant window and realize I look like a complete idiot and it dawns on me that I have for a long time. That’s a lot of what this show is, in addition to being a reminder of the things that it is absolutely mandatory from here on out to not do most of those things, ever really. It’s like a manual as to what kind of friend/girlfriend/employee/daughter NOT to be and to change things if you think you possibly are any of those things already. So yeah, I’ve been kinda into it.
BUT tonight was the season finale, and when I think about the series as a whole, I’m quite mad. It’s very weird to see a lot of parts of your life on tv, on a fictional show, and it makes me uncomfortable. I don’t mean the creepy sex scenes, the issues with money, or the terrible ways girls communicate with each other. I mean the fact that Hannah runs on West Street. That she gets a job in Cafe Grumpy, and sits around there with the Tom Tom Club playing in the background. That they live on India St. between Manhattan and Franklin. That she knows the choreography to Beyonce’s Halo.That for the past year, I’ve gotten used to seeing street signs plastered with neon papers claiming all the parking spaces for the filming of Girls, and walked by craft services so many times that they know me now when I sneak a coffee, and seem to actually believe I have a right to it.
I think the Tom Tom Club part (one of my favorite records in the universe) is what set me off. It somehow seems OK that these characters have a handful of interactions and humiliations that are reminiscent of those my friends and I have had. It’s the female experience in North Brooklyn… it’s why I’ve formed such great friendships with other young-ish women since I moved here- we’re all a little bit the same and now that we know that, we can all love each other so much more than we did as hateful teenagers. So by all means, those experiences are fair game. i just wish they were doing all their fictional tv experiencing somewhere different than where I am doing my real life experiencing.
It feels very personal since most of it takes place in the very, very small space that is my world. Over the past few years it hasn’t been unusual for me to spend whole weeks within the same six block area between my home and the Pencil Factory. I walk past Marnie and Hannah’s apartment a minimum of twice a day. Now that I’ve started running, I travel further. On West Street. Listening to Tom Tom Club. I walk to Cafe Grumpy several mornings a week for coffee with my dogs. It’s really about soundtrack and real estate. I feel a little defensive of my turf. I was here first and I’ll be here when the show is cancelled. I pay my rent here and it’s my home in real life. Anyone I speak to for more than ten minutes is inevitably forced to hear about my love affair with my zip code. I tirelessly defend the merits of the G train (and there are many), for crying out loud. With all the time they spend traipsing around MY neighborhood, they never talk about it, so it doesn’t seem important to them, and that really bothers me. This is sacred ground. These girls can have my insecurities, my weird exes, my embarrassing text messages, and everything I’ve said about Bushwick. I just wish they’d leave my neighborhood and keep their hands off my record collection.