Thursday, June 14th, 2012

Who Actually Watches and Hates 'Girls'?

Remember back in the salad days of Girls thinkpieces, when all the talk about racism and nepotism and feminism was all speculation. People were applauding or condemning the show and its audience before anyone watched it. Well, as the show is about to air its finale, it is apparent that people are watching and having opinions on it. Todd VanDerWerff of the AV Club argued this morning that the show is judged too harshly because the viewers overly masculine expectations for what "good tv" should be like. He writes that the show isn't given the benefit of the doubt that other shows are afforded:

And every week, the goalposts move. One week, it’s that the show doesn’t depict the city of East Lansing, Michigan, entirely accurately. The next week, it’s that it somehow makes crack seem “fun.” One week, it’s the idea that the show’s “not funny enough,” whatever that means. The next week, it’s the idea that the show’s male characters aren’t well-developed enough. It’s not that there aren’t grounds to criticize this program—some of the supporting players could still use development, and Dunham occasionally becomes too enamored of over-the-top gags—but the series is too often expected to somehow be a perfectly realistic depiction of the lives of young people in the big city, while also the funniest show on television.

Though in reality he might be talking just about the type of dudes who would comment on his recaps because Vulture reveals the majority of Girls viewers are in fact male. HBO estimates that about 56% of the people who watch Girls either live or on DVR are men. Meaning 44% are female, which seems even smaller when you compare it to the 52% female viewership of True Blood. Add in the facts that the biggest market for the show is Providence, Rhode Island and its largest viewer demographic is males over 50 and it seems the perception of who watches Girls differs greatly from the reality. Girls might be about young women in New York but it is good enough to appeal equally to those who are not young or women or in New York.

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  • Lord_Haw_Haw

    I have overly masculine expectations of what good criticism should be like, and the logorrheic grad students and wannabe screenwriters at the AV Club don't conform to that expectation.

  • JoshUng

    I watch the show, and while I think its funny most of the time, the fact that I only want bad things to happen to just about every character on the show (not the actors, the characters) makes me think that if I forget to set my DVR next season, I probably wouldn't miss it.

    I don't hate it, but I don't think I love it  enough to defend it from every criticism it gets.

  • ufeelmepdx

    While the dialogue and the vernacular of the show are unique, and at times, rib-splittingly sardonic, it is so overly vanilla it becomes almost trivial.  Don’t get me wrong, Lena has hit the head squarely in terms of entertainment. However, as speaking for a voice of a generation, what generation is that—overtly Anglo, upper-middle class, self-absorbed and self-critiqued with a pronounced gumption for entitlement coupled with at best, dubious work ethic…if so, then yes, she does speak for those folks. Can she have a single friend or character of color, jeez; it is freaking NYC…and Brooklyn to boot!
    Both NYC and the nation at large, consist of approximately 40 percent of people of color. Further, the daily comings and goings of her life are fairly singular—yes, there are white young urbanites from tony liberal arts colleges, doing the “city thing”, but it is far from representing a generation. Most of the generation does not have the conscripted safety-nets in which all of the characters on the show so readily have…most people her age cannot afford, neither in time or income to take “internships”—these are the modern accruements of the new-found “boughie class”. As for readings, installations, Brooklyn factory parties, and vanguard theater, well, just even more trappings, that basically reflects the privileged post-college life white kids take part of and produce.
    Not to totally diss her, she is no doubt talented, has a keen eye for self-deprecation and the identifying the current “must dos” for  20somethings-still-on the parents-coin, however, she is poignantly short of representing a generation, and if she did, it’s not a very flattering account of that generation, more like a 5 year class update from a bunch of folks from the 2008 graduating class of Bucknell…(not to slam bucknell, but well, it seems appropriate)

    Me–male of color, 40something…its amusing, like a summer intern is amusing, …..

  • theBULL

    I got tired of the show after a few episodes. I didn't find it to be a comedy, too much talk of sex and STDs, the characters creep me out sometimes, especially Dunham's "boyfriend" who is just strange, and more importantly I have other shows to watch that I'm more interested in. I'll try giving it another shot next year or something. 

  • Screech

    "funniest show on television" – oh, AV Club.