First published on 9 Jan 2013. Updated on 9 Jan 2013.
Few television series come out of the gate making as much beautiful noise as star-creator Lena Dunham’s Girls. Debuting last year to near-instant mega-fandom, it was a kind of Sex and the City for a younger set who preferred the grunge-ry of Brooklyn to the boutiques of Manhattan: three close friends, led by Dunham’s mid-twenties writer Hannah – plus scene-stealing hanger-on Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet) – navigate the jobs and boys and rents and drugs and booze and cabs and warehouse parties and fights that come with being a relatively coddled young hipster in the greatest city on Earth.
What distinguished the series most – aside from a ridiculously on-point soundtrack ranging from LCD Soundsystem to J-Lo – was Dunham’s writing. Girl can write. Dunham, who also made awesome indie flick Tiny Furniture, has that rare ability to write witty, crazy-articulate and honest dialogue, all at the same time. Her characters speak spur-of-the-moment zingers and monologues that would take you a week to construct (and poorly), but it’s rarely pure style. And she’s a killer when it comes to digging right in to those dark places most of her viewers know too well, as when Hannah let’s rip: “No one could ever hate me as much as I hate myself, okay? So any mean thing someone’s gonna think of to say about me, I’ve already said to me, about me, probably in the last half hour!”
There’s rarely been a show about which more twenty-somethings have said: “She gets me.”
So, naturally, there were going to be fears when season two came along – could Dunham and co possibly live up to the genius of first season and the new expectations it had set? We’re here to tell you they have. They’ve even surpassed it.
We won’t give too much away plot-wise except to say Adam’s still around (in some capacity), Hannah has stuck with her job at the café and Dunham is as keen as ever to get her kit off. A cocaine binge with ex-boyfriend, new roommate and legendary super-gay Elijah (Andrew Rannells) is splendidly done and all the funnier for the nip-revealing mesh singlet Hannah wears throughout. And Dunham’s ear for dialogue and eye for a perfect TV moment is sharper than ever – witness what might be the tenderest snot-in-the-bathtub scene in moving-picture history. It involves Hannah and Jessa (Jemima Kirke)… and we will say no more.
What makes season two even better than the first – well, the four eps we’ve seen so far at least – is that Dunham and her team address perhaps the most consistent criticism some dissenters have been hurling at the show since its debut: that for all its smarts, it really is about the kids of rich white folks finding themselves in ways only rich white kids can, and whingeing as they do. That hasn’t necessarily changed, but the characters are growing up, at least: Hannah’s sticking with the job, Marnie’s realising her new one’s not so bad and Shoshanna… well, again, we’ll say no more.
Lena Dunham "gets" a lot of young people today. That might be a good or bad reflection on those young people – either way, it’s an awesome thing to watch.
Girls season two premieres Mon Jan 14 at 5.45pm direct from the US. Encore primetime screening Mon Jan 14 at 8.30pm.