April 11 (Bloomberg) -- “I think I might be the voice of my generation,” says Hannah, the heart and soul of HBO’s exceptional new comedy “Girls.”
Two years out of college, with nothing to show but a few pages of her Brooklyn memoir and the unpaid internship she calls a job, she’s come begging her fed-up parents for money.
Played by “Girls” creator, writer and frequent director Lena Dunham, Hannah probably isn’t that voice. But Dunham has a real shot.
The director of 2010’s indie film darling “Tiny Furniture,” Dunham has set her series in hipster Brooklyn, but the sharp, naturalistic “Girls” couldn’t be further from the cartoon terrain of “2 Broke Girls” and “New Girl.”
The young women of “Girls” are smothered by student loans and grim job prospects. They’re articulate in the language of love without quite understanding their feelings.
Mostly, though, they navigate a New York of cramped apartments and unending compromise. In other words, the real world, where Hannah’s plea for a “thrifty” monthly allowance of $1,100 isn’t a punch line.
Hannah herself is a TV rarity. A bit overweight, forthrightly sexual, and with no more or less than her fair share of self-esteem issues, Hannah can take a clueless sex partner’s attempt at flattery--“You’re not that fat anymore”-- without dissolving into sitcom panic.
Tangle of Doubt
Hannah’s gorgeous roommate and best friend Marnie (Allison Williams) also up-ends expectations. She has a model’s figure, a real job and a cute boyfriend (Chris Abbott). Beneath the perfection, she’s a tangle of doubt -- and a steadfast friend.
Despite an onscreen shout-out to “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” Marnie and Hannah are no Mary and Rhoda. Dunham has written characters so nuanced and honest they feel utterly new.
The series (produced by Dunham, Judd Apatow and Jenni Konner) unerringly captures life between adolescence and adulthood.
Hannah, getting an HIV test, thinks she’s being sophisticated when she tells her doctor that she doesn’t care if she tests positive for the now-manageable condition.
“That’s an incredibly silly thing to say,” the doctor shoots back.
Rounding out the quartet of girlfriends are Jessa (Jemima Kirke), a British bohemian with a bit of a mean streak, and her American cousin Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet), a 21-year-old virgin obsessed with “Sex and the City.”
In the “Girls” universe, nothing is quite so uncool as that dated ‘90s fantasy of Jimmy Choos and glitzy Manhattan nightclubs. The new generation has moved in.
“Girls” airs Sunday on HBO at 10:30 p.m. New York time. Rating: ****
ABC’s gal-buddy sitcom “Don’t Trust the B---- in Apartment 23” has the great misfortune of debuting the same week as “Girls.”
But bad timing can’t be blamed for everything. Derivative, sophomoric and full of smug pop culture references, “B----” (the dashes are official) is exactly what “Girls” isn’t.
Dreama Walker plays June, a fair-haired Wall Streeter who holds on to her Midwestern naivete longer than she does her job. Answering a Craigslist ad, she moves in with Chloe (Krysten Ritter), the raven-tressed, club-hopping B of the title.
The odd-couple jokes are tired, and even the gimmick of a celebrity playing himself -- James Van Der Beek -- has been done better (Matt LeBlanc’s “Episodes”). By the third or fourth “Dawson’s Creek” joke, “B----” has overplayed its meager hand.
“Don’t Trust the B---- in Apartment 23” airs today on ABC at 9:30 p.m. New York time. Rating: *1/2
What the Stars Mean: **** Excellent *** Good ** Average * Poor (No stars) Worthless
(Greg Evans is a critic for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Opinions expressed are his own.)
Today's Muse highlights: Philip Boroff on “Wicked”’s profits; Katya Kazakina on New York women gallerists; Robert Heller on Florence + the Machine; Richard Vines on London restaurant Dabbous.
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