Monday, March 11, 2013

GIRLS and "likeability"

A recent article in ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY defending GIRLS accuses the haters of not appreciating the show because the characters aren’t likable. The writer, Melissa Maerz says:

PEOPLE WHO HATE GIRLS are missing the point. Hannah (Lena Dunham) and her friends are supposed to be many things — vulnerable, arrogant, ambitious, delusional about the way their clothes fit — but likable isn't one of them. If you want likable, don't watch Louie or Curb Your Enthusiasm or Seinfeld or any other great complicated-antihero comedies, many of which were created by people who play whinier versions of themselves and none of which have earned half the hate that's been firehosed at Dunham, who created Girls.

I think she’s missing the point.

First off let me say, that this is not a post debating GIRLS. Many of you love it; many of you hate it – enjoy or loathe to your heart’s content.

My issue is her contention that non-fans of the show only respond to likable characters, which she seems to define as nice, sympathetic.

Being nice is not what makes a character likeable. Being interesting, compelling, relatable, and in the case of comedy – funny is what people respond to.

They can infuriate you, they can confound you, they can annoy you, but there’s something about them that keeps you glued to the screen. Clearly, it’s subjective, but I’m sure that many people who don’t like the GIRLS girls do like Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld.

I will say this:  networks do try to steer writers towards making their characters nice. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten the network note, “Gee, we don’t like her when she does that.” And when you argue that the point of comedy is conflict and characters need flaws to be funny that rarely sways them.

But now that HBO and others have pushed the envelope – specifically to do shows networks WOULDN’T do – networks are relaxing their stance (somewhat). I still think we’re a few years away from seeing a BREAKING BAD-type series on ABC following THE MIDDLE. (Can you imagine back in the day when TOUCHED BY AN ANGEL was on CBS what the reaction would have been had Vince Gilligan pitched them BREAKING BAD?  Yikes!)

Today we root for Russian spies, Mafia families, serial killers, and worse. In the pilot of THE SHIELD, the star of the show shoots a fellow cop for God’s sake. And we’re riveted! GIRLS doesn’t put people off because it’s not THE DONNA REED SHOW.

To me Ms. Maerz’s argument is somewhat condescending. It suggests that people who respond to GIRLS are too unsophisticated to appreciate “complicated” characters (to use her word). No. A large part of the audience just doesn’t find the quirks in Lena’s ladies interesting enough to follow, much less care. Period.

So why is this? Why are some complex characters compelling and others off-putting? Writing certainly but I believe a huge factor is casting. Anyone other than Shelley Long and America might have hated Diane Chambers, despite the brilliant writing by the Charles Brothers. I’m guessing Harvey Keitel as Michael Scott and THE OFFICE would not still be on the air. Could it be – and I’m just asking (before you bombard the comments section) – that someone other than Lena Dunham playing Hannah might prompt the haters to like her more? Or any of the girls for that matter?

When Carl Reiner created THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW it was originally called HEAD OF THE FAMILY and a pilot was shot starring Carl Reiner as Rob Petrie. It tanked. He was smart enough to swallow his pride and replace himself with Dick Van Dyke. Here’s the interesting thing about Lena Dunham for me. I’ll be honest. I don’t like her character on GIRLS. But I love her in real life.

Later in the article, Ms. Maerz goes on to say:

People who hate Girls also think it's narcissistic. But it actually encourages us to take a hard look at some unflattering personalities and understand where they're coming from.

That’s fine but if we don’t enjoy the characters why would we watch? Your message may be a good one but if it’s not getting through then what’s the point? Narcissistic characters are great comic foils. Just think of Frasier, and Diane, and every character Charlie Sheen plays, and everyone on SEINFELD. We’ve already gotten that message.

Hannah (Lena Dunham) and her friends are supposed to be many things — vulnerable, arrogant, ambitious, delusional about the way their clothes fit — but likable isn't one of them.

Actually likeable is ALL of them. 

61 comments:

Kirsty W said...

Joffrey Baratheon is a detestable character, but when he's on screen it's exciting, it's dangerous, and it's interesting. There is nothing at all likeable about him, and yet he's compelling. I care whether he lives or dies because I want him dead.

Girls on the other hand...couldn't get into it because I didn't care at all what happened to those characters. They didn't seem to care themselves so much either.

Carol said...

I've been watching Dick Van Dyke on Netflix, and they do have the pilot of 'Head of the Family', so I watched it. I think that's a great example of what you're saying. Carl Reiner's character was too abrasive to really be 'likable'. He just lacked the charm that DVD brought to the character. (And the kid who played Richie in the pilot was annoying. WAY too whiny)

Jim S said...

Ken,

When you mentioned complicated, it reminded me of a quote from Urula LeGuin. "It's the treason of the artist, only pain is intellectual, only evil is interesting."

Full disclosure - I can't stand "Girls" and have watched three episodes because it's supposed to be so smart. It doesn't help that she's from East Lansing and her parents are MSU profs. I went to Michigan State, and whatever else East Lansing is, it's not filled with rubes. College towns tend to be very sophisticated.

When I find myself actively hating characters, I don't watch. It doesn't help when people tell me I'm not smart enough to "get" something. Maybe I get it, but just don't want to watch it. And judging by the absolutely low ratings this show has, I have a lot of company.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand why Melissa Maerz puts Louie in there. That character is highly likable -- he's a lovable schlub! The speech he tells the comic who's gonna kill himself in that fantastic episode alone would make you love and respect the guy.

willieb said...

Maybe it's because I'm not a twentysomething girl, but yes, the girls on GIRLS don't connect with me -- their problems and passions don't interest me all that much. But maybe it's intended to be that way -- perhaps if I was, say, a twentysomething guy I could relate because I've seen and dealt with girls like the ones in GIRLS. Larry David, on the other hand, i TOTALLY relate to. Many times when he finds himself in a bad situation I find myself saying, "But Larry was right! It's the rest of you that are ignorant buffoons!"

benson said...

I'm five episodes in to "House of Cards". Is Spacey's Frank Underwood likeable, nice? None. He's a horrible human being. But he's compelling. And darkly funny. Virtually none of the characters are nice. It's Washington, for God's sake. But it's briliant television.

Kitty said...

They can infuriate you, they can confound you, they can annoy you, but there’s something about them that keeps you glued to the screen.

Exactly! Case in point: My husband does NOT like Sheldon on The Big Bang Theory -- he finds him infuriating as hell -- but he still thinks he's funny and he loves the show.

SimonMoon5 said...

I haven't watched Girls, but there are two characters from otherwise funny sitcoms that I find hard to watch:

(1) Hyacinth Bucket (pronounced "Bouquet") from Keeping Up Appearances. I find her to be so utterly without charm or humanity that I can't watch any of her scenes (which is most of the show)

(2) Frank Burns from MASH. I'm probably in a tiny minority here, but Frank lacks any sense of humanity, having not one positive redeeming feature and as such, he never feels like a true human being.

Fran said...

Louie DePalma on 'Taxi'! He was a sleazy guy but with the sharp writing and a brilliant actor, he was a popular character on the show.

Fran in NYC

Mr. Hollywood said...

I have attempted to watch GIRLS ... and find it unwatchable. I guess you have to be a young woman of that age, but I couldn't care less about any of the characters ... and frankly I have no interest in seeing Dunham nude ... it's enough to turn a straight man gay!
And once again, I completely fail to see the taste and humor that has the imprint of Judd Apatow.
What passes as comedy has hit rock bottom thanks to Mr. Apatow.

slgc said...

I am in total agreement with your point, using Wendie Malick as a prime example. She has a history of playing horribly unlikable characters, but she's an amazing comic actress who is just fun to watch.

Interesting definitely trumps likable.

Tom said...

Interesting versus likable:
My favorite fictional character of the last decade is Al Swearingen from Deadwood. Was there literally anything traditionally "likable" about him? How many people did he personally kill and have fed to Wu's pigs? Fine, he refrained from killing Seth Bullock in full view of Bullock's son. But did he do anything else likable? But he was so well-written and well-acted, he was riveting to watch.

John said...

I think the best analogy is to another show that debuted on NBC at the same time as "Cheers" -- Dabney Coleman's title character in "Buffalo Bill". Tom Patchett & Jay Tarses pushed the envelope there in making the man character a manipulative and irredeemably unlikeable a-hole who rarely got his comeuppance.

I liked the show, but I could see where people would be turned off because Tom & Jay left no room for likeability and little for comedic justice. Bill was a small-market host, but he still lorded over the people around him. But what I don't remember is the show-runners or the show's supporters basically calling the non-fans a bunch of troglodytes because they didn't 'get' the show.

More than the fact I don't like the characters on "Girls" (they're self-absorbed and banal, something the self-absorbed characters on "Seinfeld" were not), I don't like the people who like the characters (or who created the characters) who feel the need to lash out at the show's critics as their intellectual inferiors. Their attitude seems to be "I'm/We're Smart, So I'm/We Can't Write/Like A Bad Show (Plus We're On HBO, So We Automatically Must Be Good". Just because you're paying extra for it doesn't make it good.

DBA said...

For me there are two sets of "likable": if the person were real, I'd like them vs I like to watch this character on my screen.
Characters needn't necessarily be pleasant for either, but there are plenty of characters who are compelling and interesting (and that causes me to like them, in the second way), but nonetheless I'd probably find them exhausting and miserable and thus never like them (in the first way). For me, GIRLS included neither, and in fact I'd much rather, character or real person, deal with someone interesting, regardless of whether they're, oh, say, nice.

Jack said...

As someone who isn't a twentysomething female, but interacts with them on a disturbingly regular basis, the first season of "Girls" resonated with me and I enjoyed it. The characters felt real to me, and so despite their flaws, I liked them. I was rooting for them. (Especially the character played by Zosia Mamet.)

This season, it feels like Lena Dunham wanted the characters to be as unlikable as possible. The situations don't feel real anymore. The characters have been stripped of not only their likability, but worse, their humanity. They're not relatable anymore. I've all but given up on the show because of this season's 180.

benson said...

Okay, one show comes to mind that I'm sure Ken is familiar with. Larry Gelbart's United States. That was very hard to watch. (Remembering from 33 yrs ago, all they did was argue for half an hour. Just shut up.)

benson said...

One show that I'm sure Ken's familiar with is Larry Gelbart's United States. (Working from 33 yr old memory, all the couple did was fight for half an hour. The both of youse, just shut up!)

benson said...

The great and might Google is having issues. Sorry for the double post

Great Big Radio Guy said...

We've liked GIRLS until fairly recently. Last night with the ass splinter and the Q-Tip just ruined it for us (the latter made Bonnie physically ill). I don't mind character traits, good, bad, detestable or lovable. But some of the stuff GIRLS does is just plain shock value without entertainment value. Three weeks ago, Hannah spent practically the entire half hour peeing. Last night may have been our tipping point. The pity is it's been a great show until recently, IMO.

Joseph Scarbrough said...

My problem with GIRLS is... it's just another trashy show where sex is the selling point and it's all the writers care about, just like almost all series on television these days.

welcometosherwood said...

Nice post. Count me among those who don't like GIRLS. Nor the charcters in the show. To my tastes, not funny, not interesting. I'd watch Cheers 50 times before I'd watch another episode of GIRLS -- actually, come to think of it, I have.

Greg said...

I hate to say it, but could your problem be that they are... girls?

As a writer I've always found it MUCH tougher to pitch female anti-heroes. Frankly, American audiences like "nice" women. Brash, sure. Opinionated, fine. But definitely, absolutely, at-their-core NICE.

And frankly, I've noticed that impulse in myself. For some reason, I can watch tons of Breaking Bad and LOVE the main character. But would I if he was a she?

It reminds me of the fact that George Lucas filmed female X-wing pilots in the space battle of Return of the Jedi, but then cut them out. Why? Because people didn't want to see women pilots die. It suddenly crossed a line. It was no longer escapist entertainment.

Anyway, just a possibility.

Daniel Butterfield said...

When GIRLS debuted, I watched the pilot with my wife, and we were underwhelmed. We ended up catching a recent episode from a free HBO preview, and we laughed enough to check out the other episodes to learn the continuing stories. We're fans now, but like with many other shows, we had to learn how to like it. Went through the same thing with the original UK version of The Office.

I agree that Maerz is off-base. Trying to argue that others are simply not capable of appreciating something because they don't like it, and if they just "understood it properly" they would get it--that's just empty snobbery. And weak criticism. (I remember being like that when I was a kid!)

I didn't have to learn that the girls on GIRLS weren't supposed to be likeable--I had to learn what its "grand joke" was. I enjoy watching them fumble through life.

I watched one season of THE SOPRANOS before I realized that I didn't care what it had to offer. Later I read that people enjoyed the experience of living vicariously through violent people, and the moral ambiguity involved, and having to relate in that way. I have no need to do that, so that one's not for me.

It comes down to: Do I want to invite these people into my living room? Do I want to spend time with them? For me, GIRLS has succeeded in this regard.

Victor Velasco said...

I've tried to watch GIRLS; just don't like it. That's as far as it goes, for me. The criticism this show has garnered from some folks is to tar it - or, maybe to mayonnaise it - with a big nasty brush, i.e., this is one of the most "whitest" shows ever seen. When Dunham addressed this a while back, I feel she was correct in essentially saying she couldn't just drop in someone African-American or Puerto Rican. I know we're all individuals, free to choose lifestyles, entertainment pursuits, etc., but the environment of the show is the catch-all stereotype for educated, angst filled, narcissistic, solipsistic, 20 something people of European-American extraction. It's unfair, but like stereotypes for people of color, it is pervasive.

First TV character to come to mind re: love to hate...Dr.Smith on "Lost In Space". Watched every week to hear him scream and hope that maybe the Robot or Mark would kill him off...great acting from Jonathan Harris

Erika said...

I go back and forth with Girls. Some episodes I love. Some episodes I can't stand. I watch it on and off. I think that you are right about casting. Two characters I particularly can't stand are Allison Williams' Marney and Zosia Mamet's Shoshanna. It's not that I think the actors suck. Well, I haven't seen Allison Williams in anything else, but I did like Zosia as Joyce Ramsay on Mad Men. Something about them as these characters just isn't interesting to me. The episodes I like the most are the ones that focus on
Hannah. My biggest problem with the show is not that I don't like the characters. It's that I can't relate to them. In real life, I would never condone anything that
Tony Soprano does, but for some reason, I totally understand him. The characters in Girls are a lot closer to me in background and age and yet I completely don't get
them.

RG said...

Like another poster bringing up Sheldon Cooper, one could analogize the Big Bang Theory as the commercially successful way of having characters who are unlikeable yet redeemable with quirks that work for 30 minutes. In real life, no one could stand Sheldon Cooper, Howard Wolowitz or Amy Farrah Fowler for more than 5 minutes before hating them. Yet, they all have at least some redeeming quality/sentimental presence. GIRLS on the other hand, perhaps on purpose, has none of that. I have watched almost all episodes (mainly because there is nothing else on) but I think the real issue is that none of us would want to spend 5 minutes with them because none of them want to really spend 5 minutes with themsevles. Frenemies is a kind word for what is going on in that show. None of them really like or care about each other, they all just want to out-status the other. It is the first true Facebook-generation Show -- taking 20 minutes to pose and post the perfect picture of yourself on the Italian Riviera to make others jealous instead of actually enjoying the moment itself. Whereas on the Big Bang Theory we all understand why they hang out and like each other -- they really have no one else like them to hang out with -- on GIRLS, these people would simply find new friends and stop hanging out these people (In real life Marnie would not have attended her ex-'s company's party). With friends like these (GIRLS), you still need friends -- someone who likes you, supports you, understands you, laughs with you. Not someone who undermines you, is jealous of your success, sleeps with your former boyfriend, brings up your worst faults in every fight. Every character on GIRLS really needs to seek out new friends. At the end of the day, we the television audience will like characters who have faults and quirks and may not be nice, as long as there are other characters who actually like them. That is the underlying problem thematically of GIRLS and THAT is why I think people do not like it. They do not actually like each other and would be better off never hanging out.

MBunge said...

The likeability excuse wouldn't have held up back in the days when J.R. Ewing was one of the most popular characters on TV. It certainly doesn't pass the laugh test today.

The ratings for this past Sunday aren't out yet, but "Girls" didn't make the top 100 cable programs for March 5th. Among those that did were something called "Interstitial Break" on Showtime, "Buying and Selling on HGTV and 6 episodes of "Law and Order" on TNT. If "Girls" were getting a level of hype and praise somewhere in line with the actual size of its audience, I suspect it would attract a level of criticism that was even smaller proportionately.

Mike

Anonymous said...

@Greg

I feel like Battle Star Galactica had plenty of anti-hero female characters. I'm forgetting names right now, but the main blonde girl was flawed and argumentative, rebellious yet still likeable. Same with the asian female character who, not to spoil anything, had one of the biggest things to dislike her for but was also likeable. The show wasnt a comedy but neither is breaking bad which you referenced.

Also I could be wrong but I believe the lead in Weeds is an anti-hero (again blanking on the name) and she's both a compelling character and likeable.

Charles H. Bryan said...

The good news from your post: EW published something other than a top 100 list.

Stephen Robinson said...

My extreme position: Well-written and developed characters are almost always likeable and empty, shallow characters often aren't. I wouldn't like a character who's otherwise a saint if that character was blandly written (this is a common criticism of many "perfect family" sitcoms from the 1950s).

"Cheers" combined great acting with amazing writing to produce compelling characters you enjoyed spending time with each week. But let's think about it: Sam was a womanizer. Norm a loser. Diane a snob. Rebecca a gold-digger. Frasier pompous. Cliff a know-it-all and Carla a jerk (to be nice). But they were also *more* than that. And I don't think the humanizing elements were added just so we'd like them. They were *true* characterizations.

Also, I don't watch GIRLS but what I've read about it (including this article) reinforces my choice to avoid it. Something I dislike more than unlikeable characters is when the show itself doesn't seem to *get* that the character is unlikeable. I recall watching SEX AND THE CITY when Carrie cheats on her boyfriend... they break up... she *actively pursues him again* (like a toy she'd lost) and then breaks his heart for the second time because she can't commit. She seems to have put no thought in what her actions did to another person. But the show never took that position. It was basically "Wow, Carrie is just a free spirit." No thanks.

Stephen Robinson said...

Oh, a relevant example:

There's a CHEERS episode in which Cliff has himself wired to receive electric shocks whenever he's obnoxious. This results in a hilarious bit of physical comedy. You could imagine this in a SEINFELD, CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM, or even 30 ROCK. What you *wouldn't* see in this shows is the scene in which a distraught Cliff confesses to Frasier that he's "alone in the world" -- something he realizes when no one bothers to come see him in the hospital (even Frasier has been guilted into going). It's a very moving movement. And yes, Cliff handles it in character (ridiculous short cut) but his pain is also in character.

I thought it was not surprising that we started to move away from scenes like this when we had more shows centered around a stand-up comic or SNL alum. Tina Fey and Jerry Seinfeld could handle the physical comedy of the season 2 finale Sam/Diane breakup but they could never maintain the emotional depth the scene also requires. When Sam tries to provoke Diane, she looks at him in a way that *just by itself* was worthy of every Emmy Shelley Long won.

Johnny Walker said...

I've never seen GIRLS, but I think the discussion about likeability is an interesting one.

There were times when I was watching BREAKING BAD when I absolutely despised (lead character) Walter White -- but I still kept watching, but as Ken said: He was interesting, compelling, and (mostly) relatable.

I think the most interesting take-away from this is that NICE doesn't equate to likeable. You can still enjoy watching a major asshole or an outright bitch -- in fact they're sometimes the most compelling characters -- and be bored to tears by niceness.

Which 30 Rock character would you like to see in a spin-off show? Jack Donaghy or Kenneth the Page?

Kenneth is the epitome of niceness, but I don't think I could an entire show focused on him. Donaghy is shallow, self-centered, and rarely "nice".

That said, MODERN FAMILY seems to go out of its way to ensure that the characters never become assholes. Nobody ever crosses the line, or is a wise-cracking know-it-all, or hurls hurtful abuse at anyone else. And, in the age of witty one-liners, it's refreshing in its own way.

Great Big Radio Guy said...

Johnny...AfterRock! Set up a pitch meeting.

DBenson said...

A few speculations:

-- It's easier to like awful people when they're really bad at it. Edwina and Patsy in "Absolutely Fabulous" tend to fail spectacularly at all their schemes.

-- At the other end of the scale, people who actually take pleasure in their awfulness for its own sake can be appealing. JR and Louie loved the game at least as much as the winnings. Sam Malone loved talking up his conquests to his little fan club; that seemed to be the whole point sometimes. It's one thing to be a coldblooded chisler. It's something else to be Louie DePalma, triumphantly brandishing what he thinks is a stolen pen.

-- Are they hurting others or just themselves? Frasier and Niles would never abuse the help or willfully humiliate anyone; at worst they'd be a bit high-handed (which tended to bring swift desserts).

Christodoulos said...

"...Frasier and Niles would never abuse the help or willfully humiliate anyone".

Not willfully, of course not. But, by accident, they are a walking disaster. Frasier did set on fire the newstand of Tony Shalhoub's character. And the brothers burned down their own restaurant on its opening night.

(I don't have a point, I just wanted to share a couple of my favorite moments of the show.)

deanareeno said...

Regarding femaile anti-heroes, Alice on the BBC series Luther is a brilliant sociopath (for the most part), and she's one of the best things about that excellent show.

Like Ken says, interesting is likeable.

MaryRC said...

OTOH, David Spade always plays un-likable characters and his shows are always un-watchable.

Kaleberg said...

It isn't about likable. It's about engrossing. I could rarely watch more than 30 seconds of Seinfeld. It was funny and very well written, but usually there was some paint drying or grass growing that would grab my attention after a bit. I think everyone has their own definition of interesting. I enjoy watching Mad Men, but whenever Don Draper comes on stage I go get a snack or check out the lawn. (Out here, the grass grows 24/7).

Wayne said...

A comedy with four girls and they get naked? I'm glad it's Girls not The Golden Girls.

Tor Hershman said...
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Tor Hershman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tor Hershman said...

There's nothing more likable than The Truth, ehhhh?

Did ya know the Jesus Christ character 'twere thunk-up by Ovid?

Mac said...

Louie in Taxi wasn't remotely likable, but he was really funny, so you kept watching. Then his vulnerability gradually came through and while he never became Mother Teresa, you grew to like him. Same with the characters in "It's Always Sunny..." - dreadful people that make you laugh and you slowly grow to like.
Same with Seinfeld, Curb etc etc. For me with the "Girls" girls; I don't care how unlikable they are, they just aren't funny enough to keep watching.

Daddy Background said...

From Firefly on Wikipedia: "One of the struggles that Whedon had with Fox was the tone of the show, especially with the main character Malcolm Reynolds. Fox pressured Whedon to make Mal more "jolly", as they feared he was too dark in the original pilot"

I don't think Captain Mal would have been as likeable were he more jolly. I'm sure this proves a point Ken was making somewhere.... *mumbles and walks off*

Johnny Walker said...

Actually Mal is pretty different in the original pilot and movie to how he is in the rest of the series. It's a testament to Whedon and Fillion that they managed to keep the character three-dimensional despite the changes.

Rob M said...

Girls reminds me of Sex And The City, an overhyped and underfunny show that I'm supposed to enjoy more than I really do. I don't hate it. But it's not must see TV.

Diane L. said...

The first season of Girls, was fresh and funny. The character's neurotic tendencies were intentionally blown out of proportion but they were balanced by some down to earth moments that made the show worthwhile. This season seems to becoming more and more out of control. Like a balloon that is being overfilled with air and it going to either fly away or burst very, very soon. Girls is forgetting what made the show great. Lena Dunham needs to stop buying into her own hype and take it back to what worked. Her characters are losing their humanity.

Beef Supreme said...

Yes, the public only wants likeable, nice characters. That's why "It's always sunny in Philadelphia" never made it past the pilot. If only those guys had been NICE, imagine what a hit the show could have been!

Little Miss Nomad said...

People should be allowed to dislike what they dislike without being brought to task for it. It's not necessarily a matter of intelligence or sophistication, and I think journalist defenders of Girls just have an article quota to fill and their bosses won't approve an essay on the unheralded merits of Guys With Kids (of which there are actually plural).

OldPandaDayz said...

The TIME TV critic James Poniewozik made the comment on Twitter recently that GIRLS is over covered in the media as a social phenomenon and under covered as a TV show. Articles like this and the especially the commentary as seen above just proves that point. This comment thread has 49 comments in it so far mostly by people who claim to A. have only watched one episode and can't stand it or B. have watched the entire thing and can't stand it (then why have you watched 19 episodes of it?) or C. can only comment on the extent to which Lena Dunhamn gets naked in every episode (yet its not a problem when Louie CK does it). In opposite of the previous commenter why should those who like the show or appreciate it be taken to task for that by a surplus of people who seems to watch the show but find it deplorable?

Douche Nozzle said...

Yes, let's all sit in judgement of imaginary characters to fill the gaping hole of meaning in our own lives. We're so much better than these fake, made up people and have nothing to learn by watching them. Hooray for us!

mandobob said...

Hate Girls. Hate "whats her name". Unwatchable. Unfunny. Uninteresting. It is a bad pre-SEX IN THE CITY want-to-be (and I also hate SITC). This is what goes for a "hit" show on HBO. HBO can't take the heat from the other cable outlets and it shows.

sunnyrunning.com said...

It was a little bit condescending an essay. It was very condescending. And, definitely, missed the point.

MBunge said...

"why should those who like the show or appreciate it be taken to task for that by a surplus of people who seems to watch the show but find it deplorable?"


I'm not sure anyone is being "taken to task" for liking "Girls". What's being commented on is the gap between the awesome amount of hype given to the show vs. both its subjective quality and objective actual viewership.

Mike

McAlvie said...

Who hangs out on a regular basis with people they don't like and have no sympathy for? You only do that when either you are just as awful or they make you feel better about your self in comparison.

Yeah, definitely missed the point.

Storm said...

DBenson said: "-- It's easier to like awful people when they're really bad at it. Edwina and Patsy in "Absolutely Fabulous" tend to fail spectacularly at all their schemes..."

You beat me to it. Eddy and Patsy are two of the most hilarious women ever on TV, they're just awful human beings, and I love them. And I don't think I'd like them quite as much if they got away with shit ALL the time; I like it when their schemes backfire on them.

Yet I HATED the new AbFabs from last year, primarily because they made Patsy into a dottering, feeble idiot with a colostomy bag.

I've seen one episode of "Girls", or rather part of one, and it just didn't grab me. I sat there thinking "Is this supposed to be funny, or Hipster Ironic? I think my funny might be broken. What's the gag?" I'm not that hard to amuse, I crack up every time my dog farts. If your funny ain't up to dog-fart funny, then something is wrong.

Cheers, thanks a lot,

Storm

chuckcd said...

Hey, Tony Soprano was "likeable".
I hope she's not comparing GIRLS to SEINFELD.
That's like comparing a painful rectal itch to strawberry jam.

Storm said...

Both are tasty, but not as good as Mangled Baby Ducks. With a name like Mangled Baby Ducks, you KNOW that's good jam. 10,000 Nuns And Orphans is delicious as well, but hard to find and pricey.

Cheers, thanks a lot,

Storm

Yasu said...

When it comes to "Girls", it seems that if you don't like the show you're a hater. I don't get this attitude, really.

I've watched the first season and the first episode of season two. At first I though it was interesting, different; never funny, though, in a laugh-out-loud sort of way, but interesting nonetheless.

As I kept watching, whatever it was that made the show different and interesting started wearing off. To me, at this point, it's just dull and repetitive.

So I've stopped watching. Simple as that.

Terry said...

Fraiser Crane was terribly annoying, completely pompous, and a totally self-absorbed snob, but I happily watched many years of that show.

I watch Psych even though Shawn Spencer drives a lot of people crazy--for some reason, he's never bugged me, and the show makes me laugh!!! But I really did not like the main character on the Mindy Project, and I didn't like the show, and I quit watching after the first episode.

I have never seen "Girls," but based on the many, many, MANY things I've read about it, it doesn't sound like my kind of thing. I don't really think it qualifies as comedy in my book from the sound of it.

I read the reviews of Louie after they air, and go back and watch the ones that seem interesting. I almost never find it funny, but sometimes it's interesting. I don't really think it's a comedy either.

Justified is a drama, but I laugh more at some of the dialogue in that show than Louie.

I still watch Big Bang Theory mainly because I enjoy Sheldon Cooper, even though the show itself is not really funny all that often anymore for me. Sheldon can be rude, but he has endearing qualities to me. I never really liked Fraiser at all, and my interest in that show waned as the years went by and the stories got weaker.

I watched Battlestar because I found it engrossing, though I didn't particularly like any of the characters. I will never watch it again because it was terribly depressing. But it was interesting once.

Looking back over my many years of watching TV, I can watch shows with characters that are plum irritating to me if the stories are engaging. I can watch shows with characters I enjoy even when the stories are not that great. I can watch shows where I don't personally feel attached to any of the characters, but I find the story interesting. But I will not watch shows with irritating characters and irritating or boring stories.

Bill Kinder said...

That's exactly the way I now feel about the show. I used to look forward to the new episode now I can take it or leave it.