I have a confession to make. I was a huge Ally McBeal fan in the first season. I used to justify my viewing by pointing out that I was a poor grad student and basic cable was the only entertainment I could afford.
But then I started sneaking in episodes of Suddenly Susan, and I would somehow find myself at home on Thursdays just long enough to catch Will and Grace, and finally I just gave up and admitted I had a standing date with Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte and Samantha on Sunday nights.
I have a private addiction to single White girl comedy-dramas – I know I need help, I know I need to break the cycle and for years I thought I’d never break free. That was until the last two Sundays, when I watched HBO’s new series “Girls” and realized that show was a 22 minute 12 step-program that stopped my addiction cold turkey.
Now, I recognize that I am not the target audience for most of what Hollywood produces for the small screen. Even though I’m a single Black male Gen Xer with a PhD, I know UPN’s Kevin Hill was written for single White girls … not me. The last time a network actively pursued my eyeballs for anything other than sports ended when The Wire went off the air in 08’.
However, I like many other writers and pundits was sucked into the excitement of Lena Dunham’s new HBO dramedy series “Girls” which was supposed to be a witty millennial take on four White Girls finding themselves in New York. I’ve been quietly watching the blogosphere for the active political and social commentary associated with the show and while we’re only two episodes in to “Girls” the narrative has already hit part 3 of the Tim Tebow Popularity Arc, and unfortunately I’m here to provide part 4. What’s the Tim Tebow arc? It’s the four step process by which any new show, person, movie, diet or book goes through in our hyper-fast new media cycle.
1.) New Athlete/Show/Book/Diet comes on the scene exciting everyone
2.) Mainstream overhypes the Show/Person/Movie/Diet ignoring obvious flaws and crediting it with being groundbreaking way to fast
3.) Backlash occurs as non-mainstream folks point out the obvious flaws and get annoyed with the blind hype of the mainstream
4.) Eventually everyone realizes (As they did with Tebow and they might with Girls) that for all of the over-hype and the backlash to the over-hype that the actual product wasn’t very good to begin with
We’ve already seen parts 1.) and 2.) with “Girls” Lena Dunham already being lauded as the voice of a new generation (because you know that young White girls with money NEVER get a voice in pop culture), she is fast tracked to a series on HBO and even more people fawn all over her new show like it’s the second coming of Sex and the City with a little bit of Freaks and Geeks thrown in.
Part 3.) started right after the first episode premiered as Jezebel and Racialicious, and various news outlets pointed out the show’s lack of diversity, the arrogance of the writers and producers and the glaring Hollywood discrimination that allows shows like Girls to get fast-tracked when equally or more successful minority cast programs still languish on YouTube. I wanted to wait until the second episode of the show before throwing myself in with groups 2.) or 3.) and it turns out instead that I’m down with number 4.
The problem with “Girls” is that it’s not very good. It’s not funny. It’s not dramatic. It’s doesn’t have the makings of appointment television.
I expected “Girls” to be funny from the trailers, but the show is actually just tepid and dull. While quality shows like Louie on FX showcase the hilarity of mundane life, “Girls” seems to wallow in short term shame and awkwardness that may give you a chuckle but you forget about it by the next scene. I get it, it’s bold to show non-attractive 20 something White women having graphic unsatisfying sex, is that all you got? The drama is even worse; the main characters don’t seem to be particularly close to each other for any reason other than being too self-absorbed to make new friends. I know this show is dipped, battered and deep fried in “White Girl Problems” but that doesn’t justify 26 minutes of maudlin monologues topped off by stealing tips from a housekeeper because your parents won’t give you $1,100 a month to support your writing career.
I don’t expect to be in Hollywood’s target audience for a show called “Girls” that is exclusively about 20-something White women and their privilege. But as a man whose private addiction to similar shows over the years led him to plop down and watch two episodes of this dreck I can promise you that skipping this show won’t make you the odd woman out at the water cooler. Hollywood, I can tolerate not being in your target audience, I can even occasionally accept you ignoring me in stories or casting, but the least you could do is entertain me. And “Girls” can’t even do that.
DR. JASON JOHNSON, Politic365 Chief Political Correspondent, is a professor of Political Science at Hiram College in Ohio and author of the book Political Consultants and Campaigns: One Day to Sell. You can read more at www.drjasonjohnson.com or follow him on Twitter @Drjasonjohnson