Girls Star Slams Sex and the City: “It’s A Total Lie”
12:00 pm, March 4th | by Amy Tennery
In Saturday’s New York Times, Lena Dunham chatted up her new HBO show, Girls. On its surface, Girls is a Brooklynite foil to Sex and the City. Whereas Sex and the City chronicled the lives of professionally established 30- and 40-something women in Manhattan, leading glamorous lives and Trying To Figure It All Out™, Girls is about 20-something women leading unglamorous lives on shoestring budgets while Trying To Figure It All Out™.
(The fact that the shows invite so much comparison says more about women and comedy than it does about the shows themselves, but that’s neither here nor there.)
In her interview, Dunham, the 25-year-old star, creator and writer of the series (yea, tell me about it), explains the show’s angle with co-star Jemima Kirke. And, of course, they take a dig at Sex and the City:
Dunham: Half the time when I’m talking about something else I’m just trying to maneuver into a conversation about sex. Especially in your early 20s sex is a playground in which you’re working out a lot of your insecurities, and people are in some ways in the most honest in those dynamics, but you also can’t reveal yourself to people.
Kirke: Obviously we’re not making a documentary here, and even if we were, it would be hard to make it honest. No, it’s not “Sex and the City,” where it’s a total lie. That’s four gay men sitting around talking.
Moving past the “that’s four gay men sitting around talking” line (which, seriously, what is that even supposed to mean?), can someone explain what’s so bad about making a show that’s like Sex and the City?
The SATC backlash (and subsequent backlash against cupcakes, helpless victims of savage collateral culture damage) more or less can be pegged to the recession – the show ended in 2004, was relevant for a handful more years and then, all of a sudden, it ‘wasn’t cool’ anymore. It became a relic of the days when Paris Hilton still got paid in the high five figures just to show up at a club for an hour. It was of its time – a glossy, sequined, label-heavy, Bush-era trifle that teetered (in four-inch Manolos, no less) on the line between brassy daring-do and total lack of self-awareness.
Its protagonist was a chain smoker. She wore short-shorts with a crop-tops and stilettos. This show would not happen today.
So, no, I’m not saying that SATC was problem-free – and yea there were parts that were a “lie.” But SATC was groundbreaking in what it said about women and cash. It was as much a show about sex as it was about women and careers and money. Yes, they shopped for $700 shoes – but they were the ones buying them. It said that if you want to buy that dumb frivolous thing, great. You should. With your own money.
This might sound silly, but keep in mind that the actresses on SATC were old enough to remember the days when it was legal (and, for that matter, common practice) to deny an unmarried woman a credit card. The characters on SATC were raised by mothers for whom going shopping for whatever it was they wanted was a privilege often not afforded to them. Buying the Jimmy Choos? That was rebellion.
But let’s stop and remember what we saw on this show. A female graduate of Harvard Law School becoming a firm partner by her mid-thirties? A woman CEO of her own high-powered PR firm? Buying your own apartment in Manhattan by yourself? Yep, those are fantasies and lies, for the vast majority of people. But they happened on Sex and the City. And what’s so bad about that?