The latest breakout comedy series from HBO – “Girls” - debuts on home entertainment this winter, just in time for holiday gift giving and a few weeks before the premiere of season two. Created by and starring Lena Dunham, who also executive produced along with Emmy winner Judd Apatow (Bridesmaids) and Jenni Konner (Help Me Help You), “Girls” takes a comic look at the assorted humiliations and rare triumphs of a group of girls of four twenty something’s – Hannah, Marnie, Jessa and Shoshanna – who are trying to figure life out. They’ve been living in New York for a couple of years, but they’re still not sure what they want – from boys, from each other, from themselves. And things aren’t getting any clearer. The answers aren’t always easy, but the search is profoundly relatable. ”Girls” was nominated for five 2012 Emmy Awards: Outstanding Comedy Series, Outstanding Lead Actress (Dunham), Outstanding Directing (Dunham), Outstanding Writing (Dunham) and Outstanding Casting.
“Girls” is the story of four twenty-something women living in New York City, focusing often on Hannah. Hannah (Lena Dunham) starts the series as an intern being supported by her parents who quickly cut her off financially. Although she identifies herself as a writer, the internship fails to turn into a paying job and she is left broke and hopeless. Like many women her age, Hannah has a man in her life Adam, that she just can’t figure out. They hook up, but its unclear if Adam has any feelings for her that aren’t sexual. Hannah also lives with her best friend Marnie who has a boyfriend that’s so nice she can’t stand him and has many rules including to never show her boobs to anyone she isn’t having sex with. Another friend Shoshanna, is still in college and is extremely high strung. She talks fast, comes off as younger than her years and is a virgin desperately trying to gain a sex life. Jessa is Shoshanna’s cousin who is British, rude, and confident and everything Shoshanna wants to be.
Much of the season is devoted to Hannah and Adam as he becomes a bigger part of her life. Other topics include sexually transmitted diseases, infidelity, homosexuality, jealousy, abortion and all things sexual. Each episode has got a complex story and there are many unique characters. I won’t go into more details about plot specifics because I think that spoilers would take away from the viewing experience as those freewheeling plot-lines are a big part of the show’s appeal.
While this is a show about four young girls, it’s not a younger version of “Sex and the City”. ”Girls” is definitely a dark comedy. I think the show’s main draw is to be unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. It’s unlike anything I’ve seen, but it just missed the mark for me. For one thing, I felt like the four main actresses are playing roles exactly like themselves. It doesn’t feel like acting – more like a messed up documentary. Whatever it is (and I can’t put my finger on it) that I didn’t like about the show “Bored to Death”, I also found in this show. It has the same weird and quirky vibe that just doesn’t come off as particularly interesting to me.
Based on the fact that Judd Apatow is involved in the project, I had significantly high hopes for the show. It turns out to be much more about creator Lena Dunham and her own experiences. It sounds mean, but I think the problem is that I just don’t care about the show’s creator/producer/actress/writer Lena Dunham. The boxed set includes a booklet with her tweets about the show and she clearly relates to every aspect of the show and her character, but there is too much Lena for my taste in this set. I understand that this is her creation, her baby, but it’s just too much for me. This is the type of show that you will probably love or hate. I tried hard, but I don’t love it at all. It’s not a long season but by the end I stopped caring about most of the characters even though the show left off at an interesting place.
I’m never disappointed with HBO shows on Blu- ray. ”Girls” is presented in 1080p high definition with a 16:9 1.78 ratio. Colors are intentionally muted and black levels are good. Skin tones are accurate and even with significant amounts of flesh visible in the films many sex scenes. Detail is also good, allowing the viewer to make out the specifics of Hannah’s many tattoos.
As with the video, the audio quality does not disappoint. ”Girls” is presented in DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, and the New York ambiance comes across easily. Dialogue is even and consistent throughout and in crowded scenes and parties the sound was noticeably layered.
There are a significant number of special features on both Blu- ray discs. All of the special features, including the table reads and deleted scenes are more fun to watch than the show itself.
- A Conversation with the Girls –The four main stars discuss the show’s origins, title, writing and concept.
- Deleted and Extended Scenes – Multiple deleted and extended scenes are broken up by episode.
- Cast Auditions – Audition footage for Adam Driver, Allison Williams, Andrew Rannells and Zosia Mamet can be seen individually or with the play all feature. I found these auditions more interesting to watch than the show.
- Inside the Episodes – Lena Dunham discusses each episode.
- Audio Commentary – Commentary is available on Episode One with Lena Dunham and Executive Producer Jenni Konner
- A Conversation with Lena Dunham and Judd Apatow – Judd Apatow questions Lena Dunham about the show and its beginnings, with a plug for her film Tiny Furniture that first interested him in working with Dunham.
- Gag Reel – A lengthy two part gag reel is found on the Blu- ray disc two. With all the oddities in the show, it’s not surprising the cast cracked up often getting their lines out.
- Fresh Air – An audio interview with Lena Dunham is heard while looking at a static photograph.
The features and excellent audio/video quality make this an average of 3.5 while I found the show to be a 2 or maybe even a 1.5 based on episode content. ”Girls” is all about Hannah Horvath, and her self involvement. It doesn’t always have a clear point, and I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. It’s just not the show for me. Whether it was Hannah’s father passed out naked on a bathroom floor or Adam grabbing Hannah’s stomach fat, I just kept thinking I don’t want to see that. The special features are lengthy and significant. Just based on the special features the show seems like a show that I would want to watch, but when it’s stretched out to episode length I think the show is just too much. When I don’t like show I often can’t imagine that a person on Earth would enjoy it, but in the case of Girls, its definitely not for me but I could see that it could be entertaining for someone else. I would recommend everyone who might be interested watches a few episodes to decide for themselves.
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