Writer, actor and director Lena Dunham first burst onto the scene back in 2010 with her feature debut Tiny Furniture. Two years later, the inaugural series of HBO’s Girls hit television screens and instantly became one of the most talked about shows around. The series won numerous awards and the second series looks set to do the same, having already scored five Emmy nominations. Season 2 rejoins Hannah (Dunham) and her group of friends as they struggle with life in their early twenties. Relationships with friends, lovers and family are all explored, as well as the stresses of pursuing your dream career.
Marnie (Allison Williams) finds her life turned upside down after breaking up with Charlie (Christopher Abbott) and losing her job in quick succession, Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet) struggles in her first proper relationship with Ray (Alex Karpovsky), impulsive Jessa (Jemima Kirke) returns from her honeymoon to discover that perhaps an impromptu wedding was not the surest path to happiness and Hannah becomes increasingly unstable as the pressures of securing her first e-book deal begin to overwhelm her. After Tiny Furniture and Girls, it’s clear that Dunham’s writing talent lies in creating dialogue, characters and situations that feel honest and are easily recognisable to today’s contemporary home audiences.
Though the tale of a struggling writer living in Brooklyn may be very specific, Hannah’s struggle with the job market has clearly hit a nerve for a generation of graduates struck by the global financial crisis. The series is cleverly written and sporadically does a lot with a limited running time per episode of just thirty minutes. For instance, in One Man’s Trash, Dunham manages to cover the entire journey of a relationship over the course of just a few days. Unfortunately, whilst all of the episodes are entertaining enough, they are by no means equal in depth.
Although some episodes are extremely revealing, the series is patchy and occasionally loses momentum. Dunham has cultivated a set of lovingly crafted, believable characters, each with their own set of unique flaws, patterns of speech and behaviour. There’s a blunt and unflattering truth that underlines the writing and consequently seeps through into most aspects of the show. The characters are extremely flawed and though their intentions may be pure, their actions are often foolish and destructive. However, this simply makes Girls: Season 2 more believable and the characters all the more relatable.
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