At least, the people I see writing about it. The New Yorker, the New York Times, Slate, Jezebel (duh) and the Atlantic are holding daily "Girls" symposiums on ever-changing, non-funny cultural issues du jour. (Slate was first conceived as a site for pained discussions on shows few people see.) Is Salon still around? Let's assume it is, and that the lead article on the homepage today posits the couches depicted in "Girls" are too big for actual Brooklyn apartments. I also assume that the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and the American Rifleman are holding similar debates. Maybe their hourly "Girls" posts are much funnier.
Well, I think my response to that, I'm sorry, slur is somewhere between "not really" and "yes, but only kinda." I am not so much commenting on "Girls," (which I assume is good since it has caused such a fuss), as I am commenting on the commentary. Or, on the nature of cultural commentary today. Also, I should most definitely add that a limited number of people (or a great number) seeing/experiencing work of art says nothing about its value. As Brian Eno once said, "Not many people bought the first MC Hammer album, but everyone who did still can't touch this." Wait, no. I screwed that up. He said, "Not many people bought the first Velvet Underground album, but everyone who did formed a band." So kudos to Lena Dunham, whose name appears so often now that I can spell it correctly from memory.
But I have not seen the show and very likely won't see it. I haven't seen a TV show since the last time a girlfriend made me watch one, which was almost two years ago. And I've dated TONS of chicks since then, bro. I just don't dig on TV and no one has made me watch anything new in a long spell.
And yet, despite my Victorian habits and despite the fact I've not seen a single scene from Mad Men, I know who Don and Peggy are simply because the Maureen Dowds of our planet won't shut up about them. I know and respect the fact that Don Draper is the first truly modern American male. Of course. He's rooted in the 1940s and 50s, forges a New Self in the 60s, and, pun intended, dons the American character that we all, alas, now bear. Characters from Mad Men, Breaking Bad, the Wire, the Sopranos--even JWoww (or whatever) and her pals Snooki(e) and The Situation--have trickled into our national conversations in a way Charles Dickens characters once did. In Abe Lincoln's Day, Democrats called him 'a Uriah Heep.' In 2010, Republicans compared a real Greek Democrat running for the Illinois Senate seat to the make-believe Italian Tony Soprano. (Swarthy enough, I suppose.)
That's Tyler Cowen, professor at George Mason University and economics "It girl" of the moment. He tweeted:
"Second episode of *Girls*, on HBO, is very...Douthatian. If you are a Straussian, that is."
Oh. SH*T. Straussians gotta pick they DICKS up off the floor after a snap like that!
Warning: after all this, I guess I don't really have a point. I certainly agree that the moral issues the show raises, for example, are important and worth discussing. I mainly want to give vent to the reaction I feel whenever I see a new post somewhere about "Girls," which I assume will be every fifteen minutes for the rest of my waking life. It's a reaction that simply boils down to: "Again with this show!?!" But if I must force out some conclusions, then here are three:
1. In our fractious age, shared cultural reference points are hard to come by. When we find them, we tend to flood the zone and talk about them as much as possible to remind us that we are not alone. 2. People in New York like shows, movies, and books that feature New York. (Every novel today must have New York as a main character. E.g., The Corrections, A Visit From the Goon Squad, Let The Great World Spin, Man Gone Down, Lush Life, etc etc etc.) New Yorkers evidently like saying, "Hey, I live near there!" as frequently as possible. This helps shows like "Girls" attain popularity and chatter, and helps New Yorkers believe that simply riding a subway there is meaningful. Finally, 3. The blogosphere is too white.