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RATED NOT RATED
STUDIO HBO Home Video
RUNNING TIME 563 minutes
– A Conversation with the Girls
– A Conversation with Lena Dunham and Judd Apatow
– The Making of Girls
– Deleted & Extended Scenes
– Gag Reel: Parts 1 & 2
– Cast Auditions
– Table Reads
– Inside The Episodes
– 5 Audio Commentaries
– Interview with Lena Dunham
A story of four girls trying to become women.
Lena Dunham, Allison Williams, Jemima Kirke, Zosia Mamet, Adam Driver, Alex Karpovsky, Christopher Abbott
Girls follows Hannah Horvath and her 3 best friends as they attempt to grow up in New York City. They move in and out of relationships, get hired and fired from jobs, and generally make mistakes that end up teaching them life lessons. Think Sex and the City but more down-to-Earth and likable.
When Girls first launched in early 2012, I had little to no interest in it. The critical divide between those who loved it and those who hated it was certainly interesting, but it didn’t seem like a show I needed to waste my time on. Once the show dropped on DVD and Blu-ray, my interests were piqued when a few of my film-loving friends began to rave about the set. As soon as I saw the Blu-ray was up for review on CHUD, I finally took the dive.
Holy shit, am I glad I did.
On the surface, Girls looks like a quick and easy rehash of Sex and the City, a concept the show-runners are well aware and even bring up in episodes from time to time. As soon as you give the show a chance, you’ll see that this assumption couldn’t be any more wrong. Girls is witty, relatable and downright hilarious, even for a 20-something guy like myself. I may not be able to directly relate to most of the things our characters go through, but the humor is broad enough that it can be taken in whatever context the viewer sees fit.
Writer/director/star Lena Dunham is a revelation, a young talent that shows incredible promise. She reminds me a bit of Apatow when he first burst onto the scene, which is why it’s no surprise that he also had a hand in the creation of the show. He certainly deserves more than a simple Executive Producer credit, as is explained in the bonus features, but most of the work was done by Dunham. Her character, Hannah, may feel a bit like a caricature after episode one, but given some time she develops into a fully formed creation with whom almost anyone can relate. Hannah is going through a pivotal point in her life, where nothing is certain and every day is a new slate of choices that must be made. It almost seems like Dunham is having fun forcing Hanna to make all the wrong moves, which she’s obviously doing from experience. Judging from the cast discussions on the discs, Dunham and crew seem to have gone through most of the events of the show during their lives, something that definitely comes across on screen.
Speaking of the cast Dunham acquired, every single member is pitch perfect in their roles. Hannah’s three best friends in particular are incredibly fun to get to know, even if their plot lines do venture into “first-world problem” territory more often than not. Allison Williams plays Hannah’s best friend Marnie, a girl who’s entire life is based upon the rules she has set for herself. She seems to know exactly what she wants but no actual plan for how to get it. Throw in some commitment issues and you have the most typical, but also the most relatable member of the cast. Jemima Kirke plays Jessa, the polar opposite of Marnie. Jessa lives life one day at a time, making decisions on the fly that are often painful to watch. She’s absolutely the most intriguing character on the show, and I can’t wait to see where her arc takes her. Lastly, we have Zosia Mamet as Shoshanna, who acts as the comic relief character on the show. Some of the physical comedy she showcases is simply hysterical, and she manages to keep the show light-hearted even when things get surprisingly dark.
The men in the show seem to be a bit slower than the women, but for every poor decision or asshole-ish move they make, they’re rewarded with a moment of sentimentality as well. Take Adam Driver’s character, Adam Sackler. The guy is a complete dick to Hannah from episode one, but through brilliant writing and a surprisingly subtle performance, Adam convinces us that someone like Hannah would actually stay with him through all the bullshit.
I mentioned brilliant writing a second ago, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t give it more spotlight. The writing for Girls is simply unmatched by anything else I’ve seen on television recently, lending the show a sense of reality even when things get ridiculous. This is important here, as our leads made some maddeningly stupid decisions from time to time, and if we didn’t believe their reactions and reasons for doing them they’d become completely un-relatable. You can sense some places where Apatow had a hand in the plot department, but the writing feels completely refreshing, and we have to thank Dunham for that.
One of the best things about Girls is that it never overstays it’s welcome. At a mere 30 minutes per episode, the show has absolutely no filler to speak of. The plot of the episode is showcased right from the first scene and everything moves at a rapid pace from there. I constantly found myself wanting episodes to continue, as I was having too much fun with the proceedings to want them to end, even if the endings are damn near perfect. Girls isn’t afraid to end on a downer, leaving the audience feeling just as empty as it often does with it’s characters. It isn’t always satisfying, but neither is real life.
Girls is a breath of fresh air. The writing is exciting and original, the characters are all fully fleshed out and no time is given to extraneous and unnecessary plot lines. Everything isn’t always wrapped up neatly, but that feels correct for a show like this. There were a few times where things that happened on screen caused me to re-think things that were happening in my own life. This is what good television is all about, and I urge everyone to at least give the show a chance. Those that hate it really hate it, but those that end up loving it will have a new favorite show to look forward to.
The packaging for the Blu-ray is great, with a slip case covered in quotes and screen shots from the show. The picture really pops off the screen, something I didn’t expect from a dramedy set in NYC. This is show-off quality picture, and thankfully the sound is just as good. Girls has a bitchin’ soundtrack, and you’ll want it to sound as good as it possibly can.
The extra’s contained here blew me away, and go above and beyond what I’ve come to expect from an HBO high profile release, which is saying something. Both conversations on the disc are as informative as they are amusing, specifically the one with Judd Apatow. It really gives you a perspective on what makes this show what it is, and is a great insight into how the concept was formed. The deleted scenes are all intriguing, but it’s obvious why they were left on the cutting room floor. Everything else here, from the commentaries to the table reads, is worth a viewing if you’re really crazy about the show, and some of the table reads end up funnier than the episodes themselves. An impressive set for an equally impressive show.
Out of a Possible 5 Stars