Gen Y: So I know what you’re going to say, since it’s this week’s “big issue,” but I found a black person in the first episode.
Gen X: Really?
Gen Y: Yes. the homeless guy who tells Lena to smile! So I guess Lesley Arfin isn’t a pseudonym for John Derbyshire after all. I think the whole race issue is a non-starter. We’ve only seen two episodes…who says that there isn’t going to be a African-American person on it? Plus there was already an Asian (good at Photoshop) and an Indian doctor, so it’s already 100 times more diverse than Sex and the City or Friends.
Gen X: Not sure that doctor was Indian, but why quibble. I thought Ta-Nehisi Coates made a good point in the Atlantic, that the issue is less having token characters in various shows than it is a range of programming reflecting more experiences. I’ll buy that.
Gen Y: “Chike Johnson – Homeless guy.” (I’m just reading off his IMDB page now.)
Gen X: What else has be been in?
Gen Y: Friends with Benefits (taxi driver). Prison Break. Law & Order…both SVU and original. Yikes.
Gen X: But race is only one of a panoply of hot button issues. Episode 2 tackled pedophilia, abortion and AIDS. And rape! So let’s start with your Cabbage Patch lunch box…
Cabbage Patch Slash-Fic Sex
Gen Y: It’s true, it’s hard to keep track of what this show is being accused of, on this, it’s second week.
Gen X: So the show begins with Hannah and Adam in bed, and Adam exploring his fantasy of banging an 11-year-old junky with a Cabbage Patch lunch box.
Gen Y: yeah. It happens.
Gen X: Drew, this is groundbreaking television. I watched a lot of Cheers and I don’t recall Sam and Diane ever going quite that far.
Gen Y: I mean the best part for me, was when Adam’s like, “Where should I come?” And Hannah says “I guess my tits? You seem to want to do it on my tits?” That rings very true. We honestly don’t care where guys come. Just like, not in our eyes, please.
Gen X: I suppose that reflects a certain reality that guys are now so highly conditioned by porn. Which I know nothing about.
Gen Y: Okay, but give us credit. This generation of girls is really into like, Lost/Twilight fan-fic erotica, and I’d love to see THAT represented. Like: “Okay, I’m Bella, and you’ll be Sawyer.” Also, 11-years-old is really young for a junkie.
Gen X: Yes, I have to say the 11-year-old junkie fantasy was a new one for me.
Gen Y: Back in your day, they had to be at least 15.
Gen X: Or have a learners’ permit.
Female Empowerment…Sort Of?
Gen X: To me the theme of the episode was male sexual aggression…and the lack thereof. I think the way it’s handled is a sign that women are more secure now, which makes some sense because they are quickly taking over the world. So they can say, “You know we wouldn’t mind a little rough sex now and then. All that stuff about political correctness, can we just forget all that?”
Gen Y: Well but what’s the end result? There’s a difference between what you want in bed and what you want out of the bedroom. It’s like the rape fantasy, right? Women should be able to have rape fantasies, but trying to find a way to act that out in real life is a really tricky terrain.
Gen X: No kidding.
Gen Y: you have to do it with someone you really trust, which inherently takes away the fantasy of being raped by a stranger?
Gen X: Try it after being married for a while…
Gen Y: No thanks!
Gen X: There is a real rough-sex moment happening now, between the rise of James Dean and the obsession with fifty shades of gray and now Girls…and Mad Men, at least in the cleaning-up-after-the-party scene.
Gen Y: And Game of Thrones, which suggested that if you rape a chick enough
she’ll love you (and then smother you in your sleep while you are in a coma)…
Gen X: Women seem to be saying (correct me if I’m wrong), basically, we do want to be dominated sometimes, after all. And we are tired of apologizing for it. Later in the episode, Marnie tells Charlie: “You should be able to go about your business, piss me off, and not give a fuck. It’s what men do.” I don’t recall girls saying that back in the 90s.
Gen Y: Well i think that’s in reference to their whole life, though he does say, “Oh you want me to be some dude who doesn’t give a shit. Who is like ‘fucking suck it.’” So maybe you’re right, but I think it extends to even how, during the course of that conversation, Charlie’s feelings get hurt when Marnie says his balls are gross. Like his identity is wrapped up entirely in her feelings about him. Which is a gender-reversal, I guess?
Gen X: I do think Girls is onto something with all of this—that women are still figuring out what they want out of sex. We see a lot of bluster but also a certain dissatisfaction.Women spent a few decades trying to teach men to be thoughtful and sensitive then were like, “Wait a minute! You’re boring.” When I was in college, we were trained to be like Alan Alda. There were Take Back the Night rallies all the time. We were a generation of Charlies, basically. And now with the ubiquity of porn, I wonder if it’s a generation of Adams?
Gen X: I think it’s very uncharitable of Adam to offer Gatorade in place of an orgasm. Especially orange Gatorade. Is chivalry dead?
Gen Y: If it’s orange, yes. I already polled my friends. Orange is like the grossest of the Gatorades (apparently). I would think it would be blue.
Gen X: So on that level, I think the show is somewhat flattering to men. We watch it and go, “Oh, I’m not that bad!” All I have to do is stock blue Gatorade and I’m good to go.
Gen Y: Just don’t be too nice. Or too not nice. Unless that’s what we want, which you will just have to guess, since we won’t tell you because that would ruin it.
Gen X: So do girls of your generation expect or want to have an orgasm as part of sex?
Gen Y: What? Are you joking?
Gen X: God no. I never joke about such things, I came of age in the 90s, let’s not forget.
Gen Y: I’m taking away your Feminist card. In the 90s girls also wanted to orgasm during sex, I’m pretty sure.
Gen X: That has always been my assumption, but so far in Girls that appears not to be a goal. Or perhaps a distant one.
Gen Y: Well, maybe they are scared. Sometimes if you try to have orgasms, you miscarry, according to Girls. So be careful (or not?) ladies!
Gen X: Oh wow. Your generation is so blase about everything!
Gen Y: I mean, that is what happens. I am just giving you a plot summary.
Gen X: Um. I don’t think Jessa had an orgasm in that bar. I mean, I wasn’t there…
Gen Y: Female orgasms are elusive things to behold.
Gen X: Seemed a little premature to me.
Gen Y: Well, she appeared to at least be very into sex, which is the first time we’ve seen a female character enjoying herself on the show. And Jessa strikes me as the multiple-orgasm type.
Gen X: I suppose objective truth is hard to come by. It’s is the Rashomon of orgasm debates.
How to Apply for a Job
Gen X: So let’s just admit it—all these girls are terrible. Only redeeming thing is that the guys are worse.
Gen Y: Welcome to our generation! We make rape jokes at job interviews! (No we don’t.)
Gen X: Ok, yeah, silly scene. I don’t buy that Hannah would make that joke. Whole thing feels like a set-up.
Gen Y: It did seem like that guy was hitting on her though?
Gen X: Sure. But to me it’s another case of Lena Dunham engineering a scenario to make Hannah look bad, but charmingly so, and the authority figure look worse.
Gen Y: Apparently our generation’s voice is coming from a dark, deep well of self-loathing, outwardly projected in a passive-aggressive manner.
Gen X: Yes, but somehow remaining adorable…
Gen X: I detect a sub-theme here that is interesting, which is that in a way there are no taboos for your generation. You have all his information and are so “grown up” that you can have abortion snacks and wish you had AIDS and joke about date rape, but ultimately you know nothing.
Gen Y: What we don’t know is how to relate to authority figures. Hannah is an over-sharer, which is something that apparently now applies to people outside of the Internet. It’s like this idea that you can create an insta-bond with someone older than you if you act like you know everything and aren’t afraid to be edgy. But in a backwards way, that’s anti-rebellious: Hannah is always either not thinking about the people she’s talking to (or their reactions), or she’s trying to impress them. And then she’s baffled when her behavior is seen as inappropriate. Another problem with professor parents, I guess.
Having Your Abortion Party Cake and Eating It Too
Gen X: What do we think about this non-abortion abortion? Is it brave, game-changing TV or a cheap cop out?
Gen Y: I cant believe Jessa missed her own abortion party. Wait, no, I can’t believe they used that AWESOME line in the show. It’s not a cop out, because unlike in say, Knocked Up, abortion is presented as the attractive alternative—or the realistic alternative—to actually keeping a baby.
Gen X: Yes, but for the writers, they came up with an easier solution, a miscarriage.
Gen Y: …That’s the easier solution?
Gen X: So again, the show has it both ways. It gets to be edgy by joking about abortion (and it was funny, sure) without having a character actually go through with it. If you want to be edgy enough to have a character bring snacks to an abortion, you can be edgy enough to let another character go through with it and represent what plenty of women go through every day. Instead, the scene gave the impression that nobody takes abortion seriously, but then wussed out on the follow-through, which would have shown quite the opposite.
Gen Y: I think we see Jessa having reservations about it. After all, she doesn’t even bother showing up. And how does a miscarriage hold less weight than an abortion, especially when it’s portrayed as a positive thing?
Gen X: Well it’s God’s will, for one thing, as the religious right would attest. That life wasn’t meant to be. Jessa didn’t take on any responsibility for ending the pregnancy.
Gen Y: Wait, back up. Are we SURE it was a miscarriage? Because I got the sense that she over-reacted and her period was late.
Gen X: Hmm! That’s an interesting interpretation. Although we did see her taking a pregnancy test last week, and would a clinic schedule an abortion without an examination?
Gen Y: Well, this is a very laid-back clinic, where you can schedule STD tests and abortions for your friends, who are apparently too lazy to do it themselves. I’m pretty sure there is nowhere on Earth that let’s you have an abortion before they check to see if you are actually pregnant.
Gen X: This episode made me think maybe Girls has has less in common with Sex and the City than with South Park.
Gen Y: Is Kenny Jessa’s baby?
Gen X: …
Gen Y: Sorry, my generation is the worst.