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Saturday, September 13, 2014

"Girls" Season 3: Hannah, Feminism, and the Addict(ive) Jessa

Now it's onto HBO's "Girls" Season 3.

I have a lot of trouble watching this show, and yet. Here I am binge-watching.

It is not at all self-serving, poorly acted, or lacking in any mechanical kind of way. Just the opposite, the show is brilliant. It's Lena Dunham's mind encased in glass. And she is "crazy," but not truly; it's what happens when you're super-sensitive to the stuff everybody else doesn't get or successfully ignores.

She is "out there" in a way that's watchable. I have to.

I don't like the sex scenes. It's like "Sex and the City," I think they could have gotten the point across without being NC-17.

It's exploitive of the actors personally when shows force them to appear nude and to engage in sex with others in public.

I don't like the anti-feminism. Lena/Hannah can't rent a car by herself, she needs her boyfriend Adam to do it. Hannah supports him, while he whines and loses his keys and is "delicate" and has sex with someone else and then just...skates away from it.

I don't like it that one of the moms says that "men hurt women, that's what they do, get over it."

They actually debate whether a woman can be President.

But I know Lena's making us actually question all of these things, because she doesn't like them.

You say that you believe a woman can be President, but do you really?

Are you really onboard with all the difficult steps and choices along the way? What a woman has to do, and discard in order to get there?

I am not sure that you are.

Do you say one thing, as a woman who supports women's empowerment, but then actually do and think another?

About the sex...there is a very big difference between sex and sexuality. I know, really that Lena is trying to get to something past the human body, same as "Sex and the City" before that.

In fact sexuality is the universe of human emotion around the concept of sex. It is the girl in one of the episodes who "huffs lighter fluid" and blames her early molestation but can't admit that she is a lesbian, and that is why.

In the graphic-ness of the show, Dunham forces us to see what the characters are doing to themselves, and each other, through their use and abuse of the body and the body in intimacy with other people.

Jessa, an addict who has lost all semblance of innocence, is the only one of the characters with  no sympathy left for herself or anyone else.

You know that she is in serious need of some help. But you respect her refusal to ask for it. She knows better.

She is honest, too. Sitting there in rehab she tells each person, right to their face, what their problem is. "It's the vest," she tells the lesbian. And then has sex with her, which she later calls an act of kindness.

It was.

I watch the show and feel the pain that Jessa feels. She's so scarred and so scared. There is something so repetitive about what she's going through. There's nothing left for her to do.

She reminds me of Robert Downey Jr.'s character in "Less Than Zero," the one who died.

Lena Dunham understands women. That's why "Girls" is a great show.

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Disclaimer: This blog is written by Dannielle Blumenthal in her personal capacity. The opinions expressed here are the author's own and do not reflect the view of the National Archives and Records Administration, or the United States government.