HBO’s Girls is unabashedly honest in its portrayal of twenty-something girls and guys living in contemporary New York City, a mystical land where hipsters roam free and throw epic glow stick-heavy raves in abandoned warehouses, sexting has become a legitimate form of foreplay and a sociopath with a heart of gold can find true love. Now that we’ve had the opportunity to mull over and digest the season two finale of HBO’s Girls which aired this past Sunday, I thought it would be fun to reflect on a few life lessons (ten, to be specific) unearthed from the show’s roller coaster sophomore season.
Warning: The following may contain irreverent, “tongue-in-cheek” and mildly offensive material. If you came here with an inadequate sense of humour and a distaste for swear words, just back out now and start Googling images of the next Hunger Games movie.
1. Being in your early twenties is a weird and volatile period in life when you’re kind of, sort of (but not really) figuring out who you are, what you want and how to obtain it, but in order to acquire this divine knowledge you habitually make momentously bad choices in your personal life, career, relationships, health, etc. (e.g. Hannah deciding to sleep with Jessa’s father’s girlfriend’s son while staying at their house as a guest). Because, at the end of the day, you’re that person who has always had to learn things the hard way. It’s kind of like when you really have to pee and you’re walking briskly to the front door, realize it’s locked, struggle to locate your house key in your jacket pockets, drop your keys in the snow, finally unlock the door and, lo and behold, you’ve already pissed yourself. Transitioning into adulthood can be fun, painful, freeing and enlightening, but it doesn’t have to be messy. If you’re going to make mistakes for the greater good, just try to make ones that don’t have you catching an STI, being thrown in jail or marrying your boyfriend/girlfriend of one week for temporary stability.
2. Do not keep a journal*. Okay, I should instead say “do not allow anyone to read your journal or locate it with relative ease.” If you feel absolutely compelled to maintain a life log, ensure that it is on a laptop/computer behind a password-protected user account. There is a reason why the contents of one’s journal is private and when your friends, family members or significant other(s) read what you’ve said about them, well, sh*t gets real.
*Note that the journal melodrama derives primarily from season one, but in many ways creeps into the storyline of season two. If you take issue with this, you are likely already a seasoned Girls fan and I applaud you for your outstanding taste in television programming.
3. Rejection blows. A lot. We all know this and have felt its spurning sting when it decides to rear its ugly head, but it is up to us to remain positive and refrain from taking it to heart forevermore and dissecting absolutely every fibre and particle of said rejection or constructive criticism. At an interview for a front desk position at an art gallery, Marnie is firstly turned down as a candidate for the position and, secondly, told by the very ostentatious art dealer that she does not “see” Marnie working in the art world as a profession. It would appear this is Marnie’s first time facing rejection in life and she subsequently spirals into a panicked depression. She begins to doubt her career goals and, in many ways, experiences an existential crisis. Pretty much what I’m suggesting here is to avoid the Marnie route and have any previous rejections act as additional motivation in your pursuits. Or sell your soul and accept a slutty host position at a local gentleman’s club and give up on your professional ambitions. Your call.
4. Don’t have sex with your roommate’s best friend. This piece of advice becomes especially pertinent when you are a gay man who previously dated your (female) roommate in college and her (female) best friend is rebounding from a rough breakup. Just, y’know… Do what you have to do, but try to sleep with people from outside your circle of friends.
5. Okay, so if you’re going to meet your boyfriend or girlfriend’s parents, there are a few things that you should avoid in casual conversation. Firstly, abstain from mentioning past use of recreational drugs and any related addictions. No one is judging you for having “baggage” pertaining to substance abuse, but this is the kind of delicate subject matter best saved for one-on-one time with the in-laws and, preferably, a period in your relationship where it has already been confirmed that they are in like with you. When Jessa meets Thomas-John’s waspy parents soon after their ambush/gunshot wedding, she gets a little nonconformist-flowerchild on them and fails to maintain the verbal filter required for her preppy bridge and tunnel audience. Sure, this marriage was doomed from the start, but who knows if it could have lasted a few months longer if Jessa had made a more lucid first impression. Also: Try to leave out any discussion of religion or the existence of a supreme being until, I don’t know, the fourth or fifth double date.
6. If someone from your AA group tries to hook you up with one of their friends or loved ones, you gotta know where that ship is sailing.
7. When a friend of yours throws a dinner party and your current and ex-girlfriends launch a verbal assault on one another, be a man and handle the situation. Crisis Management 101: Avoid the bitchfest by diffusing the situation altogether. You and only you will know how best to approach this, but make certain both parties feel as though you are NOT taking a side and be Switzerland. It is ill advised to pull a Charlie (i.e. sitting on your ass whilst twiddling your thumbs) when two of the most important people in your universe spit low blow insults at each other while your friends and peers awkwardly evade eye contact. If the cease-fire route doesn’t take, remove one of the individuals (preferably your girlfriend) from the war zone and let them have their cave time. If Plan B doesn’t work out, a gentleman always knows when to call it a night.
8. Have the ability to discern when you are being taken advantage of. Whether you’re a guy and your gal is having you foot the bill for absolutely everything under the sun or you’re a girl and your frenemies aren’t treating you like a whipping boy (this week) because you’re driving them to and from school in your dad’s sweet new convertible, there comes a time when you just have to say “f*ck this sh*t” and exit stage left. Sure, it’s way more difficult to follow through with than to conceive, but you’ll be departing with your self-respect and bank account in tact. I know this is hard to believe, but there are more important things out there than getting laid and who you sit with at lunch. When Shoshanna realizes that Ray is staying over every single night and has been living in his car prior to their tumultuous romance, she takes him in like a little girl takes in a stray cat. As altruistic as this sentiment is, Ray (who is twelve years Shoshanna’s senior and works at a cafe) is essentially using his girlfriend for room and board and that’s not cool. Know when to rip off the Band-Aid.
9. Please ensure that when you are smoking dope you are in a safe, comfortable environment with people who you know and trust and that what you’re smoking is, in fact, dope. Crack cocaine is a whole other song and dance, my friends.
10. On a more serious note, Girls in its second season depicts one of its main characters suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), an anxiety disorder characterized by persistent and intrusive ideas, thoughts, impulses or obsessions which often result in performing compulsive rituals over and over again. The show makes light of the issue with Hannah navigating her way through a visit from her parents who immediately notice her compulsive behaviors. Although Hannah’s OCD-related affairs take a turn for the theatrical in the final episodes, the show realistically addresses a serious and complicated mental health issue that is becoming more and more prevalent in contemporary society. A piece of advice: Don’t be that person who flippantly says, “I always need my room to be neat and tidy. I’m so OCD!” because you’re disrespecting anyone in the room who is living with the disorder either personally or through a loved one. Furthermore, you’re illustrating how ignorant and uninformed you are of the issue. Just don’t be hatin’. Cool?
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