I have a confession to make: I don't like "Girls."
It took me a long time to admit this -- especially to my co-workers, who are pretty avid "Girls" fans. (The show's Golden Globes wins Sunday night don't make it any easier.) When I voiced my thoughts about "Girls" to basically anyone, I was usually met with considerable surprise, if not outright dismissal, and for a while I couldn't blame them. I expected to love the show, too, but I didn't, and I wasn't sure why. Sometime during Season 1, my mild dislike turned into a strange kind of loathing for "Girls" and the discourse around it. I couldn't figure out quite what it was that bothered me, so I kept watching. It didn't grow on me.
Popular reasons not to love "Girls" include the lack of racial diversity, the privileged, first-world problems of the characters and the nepotism apparent in the casting. While I understand these points, none of them are my main issue. I find the episodes pretty boring -- like many other TV series that just aren't my thing. So, why did I feel so strongly about "Girls" in a way that I didn't about "New Girl" or "How I Met Your Mother"? Why did my mild dislike turn into something much stronger?
Finally, I figured out the problem.
I hated that so many people -- in particular, older friends and co-workers -- expected me to like it, because of who and where I am. Since I'm a female recent liberal arts grad living and working in New York, I should love "Girls." Some people I've talked to about the show protest that I couldn't possibly "get it" and still not love it. They assume that I must be, somewhere deep down, a woman-child-in-training, a girl like those Girls, whose experiences should deeply resonate with me in some way. I should totally know what it feels like to tell my boss I would sleep with him or her, or be willing to do mysterious drugs in a bathroom line.
Full disclosure: I am 22, and definitely still prone to total idiocy. But "Girls" is a whole new level of absurd -- which wouldn't really be a problem save for the seemingly widely held belief that "Girls" is less lighthearted entertainment and more new gospel. Major critics have anointed Lena Dunham the new voice of a generation. My generation.
There is nothing aspirational about the characters, but I'm supposed to see myself in them. I'm apparently supposed to look at each often-humiliated, clueless, insulting, entitled female character as an approximation of me. Haven't I heard? "Girls" is a show written "for us by us." To which I can only respond: Are you kidding me?
I'm not saying that we're all "supposed" to spend our 20s doing one thing or another, and that the show is unrealistic because it misrepresents what that might be. Of course it's unrealistic -- it's television. Nor am I under any illusion that your average 20-something spends his or her time making solely rational decisions and never saying anything stupid. But I can't agree that the characters' behavior is normal. And honestly, I can't empathize with it -- at all.
Dunham objects to the idea that characters have to be likable, which I'm on board with. I don't wish
the characters in "Girls" were more perfect, I just wish they were less terrible. And I bother wishing that because, apparently, they represent me.
Evidently I'm in the minority, but I see a lot of things in them that I don't want at all. I don't wish my parents funded my life, I don't think it's realistic to throw yourself into your artistic endeavors without any sort of financial independence, and I have never once wished my life were a version of "Sex and the City" -- or wanted to do crack in Bushwick. Does this mean I am boring? Am I not making the best use of my early 20s?
Maybe what Dunham's saying -- about messy relationships, about friendships, and about bodies -- is important, and I certainly don't begrudge her the chance to be heard. Maybe hers is a voice of a generation -- but she doesn't speak for me.
So, please don't put her words in my mouth. Truly, I never want to be that kind of Girl.
This story appears in Issue 33 of our weekly iPad magazine, Huffington, in the iTunes App store, available Friday, Jan. 25.