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Girls - First episode reviewed

Girls

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

SKY Atlantic appear to have another sizeable hit on their hands with Lena Dunham’s Girls.

Already a hit in America, where a second season is in the works, the show chronicles the lives of four twenty-somethings in New York as they attempt to find career success and love.

The set-up suggests this could be the new Sex & The City and a chat midway through the first episode between two of the characters even alluded to that possibility. But this is a very different beast.

It’s arguably edgier and maybe a little more down with the average kids. It’s definitely a show of its time. And while sharing the same sexual frankness as Sex & The City, it aims to be a little more down and dirty too.

These girls are more everyman too. They are insecure, yet capable of bitchiness, and they have their own ideas on social survival and etiquette.

Another sharply scripted moment came during an exchange between chief character Hannah (Lena Dunham) and best friend Marnie (Allison Williams) as they dissected the various forms of social communication: Facebook coming last but face time “not of this time”.

It’s moments like that which made the show instantly likeable.

Dunham, too, appears to be an engaging central presence. Not averse to emotionally blackmailing her parents for financial stability (she door-stepped them in their hotel room in the middle of the night to try and put a compulsive case to maintain the flow of funds), she’s also sly enough to get by on her own merits.

And her friends are a mostly intriguing bunch too – in particular Jemima Kirke’s Jessa and Allison Williams’ Marnie, although Zosia Mamet’s Shoshanna has some work to do to avoid becoming the ‘annoying one of the bunch’.

Episode one also contained a graphic sex scene… another hallmark of the show, apparently. But it didn’t dress things up and make it look sexy; rather it felt a little sordid and exploitative. But real too. As if we were intruding.

It’s a measure of Dunham’s skill as lead actress, writer and director that there’s still a lot of drama going on within such moments.

But then Girls doesn’t – at this stage – appear to be playing to convention or riding the wave of cliche. It would rather surprise and engage on its own merits, sticking it to the idea of playing to formula.

It’s for this reason, as well as the sly humour, that Girls looks set to become a welcome addition to Sky Atlantic’s Monday night line-up. Dunham, meanwhile, would appear to have the world at her feet right now.

Girls airs on Sky Atlantic on Monday nights from 10pm