Tuesday, April 10, 2012

GIRLS vs. SEX & THE CITY: how will they be different? and how will we relate?

I've been thinking a lot lately about HBO's new series GIRLS, HBO's old series SEX & THE CITY, and my three little sisters.

HBO's new series GIRLS (created by 25-year-old phenom Lena Dunham) is about the career and sexual trials and tribulations of four, young 20-something women trying to make it in today's New York/Brooklyn.

HBO's old series SEX & THE CITY was about the sexual and career trials and tribulations of four, mid-30-something women trying to find love and success in the Manhattan of the 1990s.

And my three little sisters are 18-25-year-old women who may or may not find either of those set-ups compelling.

What does today's 18-year-old think about SEX & THE CITY? Does she find it outdated and irrelevant? Does she relate to the characters? Does it help or hurt her own thoughts about how dating, love, and sex should be?

Is it the same for a 23-year-old? Is she just far enough behind my 28/29-year-old peers and I to find that version of a New York woman something of the past? Is a 25-year-old's opinion the same as my set of friends and me. My 25-year-old sister lives in Manhattan right now. Does she watch S&TC and think, "that's my best friends and me," or does she see a preview for GIRLS and think, "that's more like it." (ed note: yes, I have that many sisters)

I watched every episode of S&TC. For me, it was an exploration in relationships, sexuality and independence. I didn't buy everything Carrie/Miranda/Samantha/Charlotte were selling, but I loved the world they inhabited. It seemed equal parts care-free and serious, mature and child-like, real and ridiculous. In hindsight I realize those characters were exaggerations of actual female perspectives, not women to fashion oneself against (which is a whole other post for another time), but I watched it and thought, that's the New York City I'd like to inhabit...Aiden and all.. To me, those characters had created lives for themselves and were now trying to find love to match (even Samantha, to a certain extent).

Would my sisters give S&TC that same review? Would they view it as mostly fact, somewhat fiction? Or do they/would they watch it and think, "look at those funny 90's women thinking funny 90's things!"

I don't know whether or not GIRLS will bear any resemblance to HBO's first, four-female franchise. It's about post-grads just trying to eek by in a very different time. The do not yet have careers, they do not yet have several serious loves under their belts, and they do not yet have Manolo Blahnik money. So far I have only seen the first episode, but from that brief introduction to their world, I can tell you that the GIRLS girls seem to be floundering. That makes sense because they're 22, not 35, but watching it I felt like there was a desperation to their lives that didn't exist for Carrie and Co. Again, that may be their age, and it may also be the age we now live in. Maybe I'm too detached from S&TC to see the direct parallels? Maybe I'm just too much older than Lena Dunham and crew to relate to their struggle. Or maybe all TV shows about four, female friends are going to play up their weaknesses and immaturity vs. their confidence and wisdom? S&TC felt mostly wise and thoughtful but sometimes ridiculous and unrealistic. Will GIRLS be the same, or the reverse? Are 25-year-old, NYC-dwellers more ridiculous and unrealistic than they are thoughtful and wise? I'd like to think I was a healthy mix of both, but it's hard to see the forest through the happy hour haze.

I'll be watching GIRLS and recapping each episode here on the blog so we can see how much we do or do not relate to the first series since S&TC that's attempted to capture our generation's view on the world. And, if I can convince them to help, I'll be peppering in the thoughts of my three little sisters as well.

Maybe four, female best friends of any age range in any city are going to experience the exact same things? Or maybe GIRLS will re-write the S&TC world to look like something we've never seen before?

NOTE: GIRLS premieres on HBO this Sunday evening.


  1. I think you're missing the important qstn: what will men of assorted ages make of the show? Sigh.

  2. I watched SATC when I was 16... I could easily relate to the characters and be inspired by them. By my perspective may well have been different from yours. :) Think I'll check out GIRLS.

  3. Maybe you should stop asking so many questions and try to answer some of them. Thanks for the non-insight. How about you ask your sisters what they think and get back to us.

  4. Watch more educational shows like Mythbusters but I guess to each is own. It's entertainment after all.

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