Hit US comedy series Girls is back on our screens from March 10. But will it regain the winning formula that had audiences hooked by the end of the first series?
As the creator and star of her own series, Lena Dunham has a lot of expectations to live up to. After season one, audiences were hooked on the offbeat comedy-drama about the lives of twentysomething spoilt Manhattanite and aspiring writer Hannah Horvath and her circle of friends. Based on Dunham’s own experiences, the series is often confronting and raw but the storylines are so relatable it hurts.
But the second season of Girls was, for us, one of 2013’s most frustrating television experiences. It started off with a bang (Hannah’s delightful mesh-singleted adventure) but by the second half had us whimpering in pain, the once insightful window onto twentysomething Brooklyn life derailed by an overdose of its main character, plotline flatlines and a sudden bout of OCD. The boys were still great, though.
We’ve now watched the first six episodes of season three, which airs on OSN in the UAE from Monday March 10, and can report that the train is back on the tracks – if not rollicking along quite so nicely as it did when it first left the station. Why? Well it’s not that we’re suddenly getting a more compelling plot (though one new coupling, if we can call it that at this stage, is sure to set Twitter ablaze). The show has never been about narrative (or character growth, some would argue), and that doesn’t change in 2014. When we catch up with Marnie (Allison Williams) she’s paralysingly pining for Charlie (who never actually appears – Christopher Abbott left the production because he, ‘didn’t like the direction things are going in’). Jessa (Jemima Kirke) is causing a lot of trouble in rehab (for one of her myriad issues) but not really learning much.
hoshanna (Zosia Mamet) smokes now, but she’s still got a thing for Ray (Alex Karpovsky) – and we kinda do too.
Hannah (Lena Dunham, whose name appears three times in a row when the credits roll on episode one) is the only who really does much of anything, or has much happen to her. She’s officially together with Adam (Adam Driver), her book is rolling along, she gets a job writing advertorials for GQ, she turns 25, and she parties in a cemetery, right before having to deal with a death…
The series’ improvement does not come via the big-name guest-stars, either, though they provide fun diversions. That’s Rita Wilson as Marnie’s mom and astute viewers will notice J Crew creative director Jenna Lyons in the role of Hannah’s boss at GQ. Depending on your view, these slightly-more-than-cameos will thrill, or just annoy: oh look, Dunham’s roped in some more mates for a couple of days on the set.
Which brings us to why season three is an improvement. The process of watching Girls is, more than nearly any other show on TV, inextricably intertwined with the process of thinking about and discussing the real-life people who put it together, especially Dunham. Everyone has an opinion on the young comic genius (and we do think that’s what she is), and the internet is full-to-bursting with ‘analysis’ of the world she creates (is it a real reflection of the world? Is it racist?). But it’s clear that all at the table took a lot of this on board when she sat down with her writers for this new series.
Catch season two on OSN First Comedy HD. Series 3 starts March 10, 11pm.