HBO Girls' Marnie: I Root for Her

I'm a fan of the HBO show Girls, created by Lena Dunham. I think the dialogue she writes is very realistic, as I watch it's as though the words she has written are being spontaneously spoken. Nothing ever really feels forced.

One of the characters Dunham has created, Marnie Michaels, (played by Allison Williams) gets a lot of flak from both her fictitious friends and the viewers of the show. Marnie is a type-A personality, a "spoiled princess," often wanting control of whichever situation. Marnie micromanages and she wants perfection. She will also offer unsolicited advice and can be very self-absorbed. People say that these traits make Marnie insufferable/awful/detestable/intolerable/etc. I would be inclined to disagree.

Sure, Marnie can be annoying, but I also find her to be relatable. Like Marnie, I consider myself as having a type-A personality. I have ambition and consider myself a "go-getter." I like things a certain way and my face has trouble hiding my disgust or disappointment when events don't go as planned. I've learned that life will almost never go exactly as planned and that the goal of perfection is on the highest of unreachable pedestals, but that doesn't mean I will stop trying to achieve it (but not in an insane way à la Black Swan). I relate to Marnie because we both recognize that this reach for perfection is a destructive cycle, often putting a damper on our relationships with friends, parents, and peers. But the drive can be so strong that we keep pushing even if we know that we keep stepping in shit. And I try to remain in control of everything--for things to go right and be perfect--likely because I had no control over my father's untimely death. I know it's futile, yet I still try. So those rare moments I can let myself relax, or see Marnie relax, I try to enjoy them as long as I can.

I can relate to Marnie because I'm well aware (as are my friends) that if I plan a dinner and it blows up in my face that I'll damn well say something, like she did in "Beach House" (season 3, episode 7). I'm not nearly as passive aggressive as she can be, but I used to be. Then there came a point in my life (don't ask when because I'm not sure what jettisoned me to where I now stand) when it didn't behoove me to stay silent or be indirect. I am blunt. Perhaps too blunt at times, often serving up a hot cup of telling it like it is to my friends and family. The beauty (or tragedy, take your pick) of your father being killed two weeks before your 11th birthday and then years later struggling with your sexual identity is an eventual indifference to certain foibles of life. Mainly this means people's opinions or actions. I don't care for "the game" everyone needs to play to get ahead. Yes, there's a time and a place, but otherwise everyone seems so inauthentic in their pursuit of getting ahead that they fuel Donald Winnicott's concept of the false self. This is defined as "something in the [person] that manifests by acting larger than life, constantly aiming to please, and demonstrating a greater air of competency and maturation." I may act at times like I have it all figured out, but I don't. I just want to be my true self. This may come across as uncaring or really harsh to some. I do care, I care really deeply. I just have selective caring, reserved for those people or causes that I deem worthy. That makes me feel authentic. The rest is just white noise.

This is a way I feel Marnie and I are similar. She cares about her friends, she cares about her music and her career, she cares about her appearance and tries to exert control. The rest of it all seems to just be happening around her and she continues to be herself, at least the haughtiest version she probably has been taught she should aspire to be. Some call that selfish or narcissistic. And to a degree it is. That is what is great about being in your 20s (25 and a half, to be exact. The same age Marnie nonchalantly professes in "The Panic in Central Park" [season 5, episode 6], the same age I am now). This is the time to be selfish and figure out who were are as people. I always say that if I don't take care of myself--that if I don't foster personal growth--how can I ever be expected to grow with a partner? If I don't take the time to try and become my best self how can I interact with others? In short, I can't. Nobody holds me to the highest standards greater than myself. And I hold others to standards because I want everyone to be the best self that they can be. Society today seems to expect us to take care of everyone else, to forsake our own wants and needs out of a fear of being impolite. It's ironic since we come from an individualist culture.

When I see Marnie on Girls I feel as though my personality was written down and slapped on a female body then put to television. Marnie Michaels is an on-screen reminder of how far I have come, how far I have to go, and how I want to conduct myself and not conduct myself. I see the progression she has gone through from season one to now and I like what I see. I only wonder what the rest of season five and the upcoming final season has in store. If the most recent episode was an indication, she's being more true to her self. I'm rooting for Marnie to stop getting in the way of her own happiness, I'm rooting for her to ease up on herself, and I'm rooting for Marnie to keep gaining perspective...if only because I'm also rooting for myself to do the same. And couldn't we all do better with a bit more perspective and authenticity?