15/01/2013 12:08 | By Dan Owen, contributor, MSN TV

Girls season two: Lena Dunham's sharp HBO comedy returns

TV review: HBO's Golden Globe award-winning Girls is back for a second season on Sky Atlantic, but is it worth the hype?


Lena Dunham in Girls (© Lena Dunham in Girls. Image HBO.Sky)


Summary

Girls, HBO's Golden Globe-winning comedy/drama (airing on Sky Atlantic a day after the US premiere), returns for its second season.

The titular womenfolk of Brooklyn, headed by Hannah Horvath (played by Lena Dunham), are still struggling with friendships, careers and love lives.


Lowlight

I can't single out one particular moment that was indisputably bad, although the sight of wounded loser Adam (Adam Sackler) getting Hannah to hold a pot so he could pee into it from his bed marked a low point of another kind.


Highlight

The house party was the most consistently entertaining moment in this premiere, topped by a brilliant scene where Marnie (Allison Williams) and gay friend Elijah (The New Normal's Andrew Rannells) tried to have impulsive sex on a sofa before it became obvious Elijah wasn't, ahem, up to the job.


Full Review

Girls is notable for bringing a higher level of functional reality to a character-based drama focusing on women.

Lena Dunham (creator, head writer, director, lead actor) must be congratulated for creating something that stands out from the crowd in the US.

In addition, HBO deserve plaudits for taking a risk on a young writer-director who only had independent movie Tiny Furniture as a calling card.

"Lena Dunham (creator, head writer, director, lead actor) must be congratulated"

However, from a British perspective, it's tougher to appreciate Girls as something that's expanding its genre's borders.

UK dramas are typically grittier and most already approach stories with stark realism in writing and acting, whereas US shows tends to prefer using the medium for fun escapism.

Case in point: British primetime soaps generally focus on ordinary folk living in commonplace settings. Whereas, back when they were ruled the roost, American primetime soaps told sensational tales of squabbling conglomerate-rich families in glamorous mansions.

There isn't much about Girls that feels fresh and innovative to me, I'm afraid; to my British eyes there's less novelty in what it's doing.

That said, as the antithesis of everything Sex and the City preached to American women, I'm glad Girls exists and has found critical acclaim on both sides of the pond.

Lena Dunham's a clever woman with so many talents for one so comparatively young, it's almost sickening.

What's more, she isn't afraid of showing her audience grubby truths; she lets her curvy, tattooed body be shown naked in unforgiving HD.

At the very least, I'm glad ordinary women have a lead character on a popular TV drama who more accurately reflects what they see in a mirror. Not that every single woman's a Lena Dunham lookalike, of course.

Girls takes on its critics

But what of the show itself? I can appreciate its dim tone, true-to-life acting, and witty dialogue on one level, but the content and characters don't speak to me as an Englishman in his mid-thirties.

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I don't even recognise struggling writer Hannah and her oddball clique in my own circle of acquaintances either (and yes, I have female friends).

There's some entertainment to be found from watching this bunch of New Yorkers wrestle with their feelings for their lovers, friends and family.

Hannah, for example, is trying to move on from sometime boyfriend Adam (Adam Driver); five minutes into the season two opener, she's having sex with Sandy (played by Community's Donald Glover), a black Republican.

Girls has faced criticism from some quarters over the lack of diversity among its cast; Sandy would appear to be a concession to this point of view. We can be sure Hannah will angst away whatever feelings of happiness she finds with Sandy.

However, I rarely crave the next episode of Girls... because watching privileged young women with their privileged problems, real or imagined, holds scant appeal to me.

Despite admirable performances and a pleasingly realistic approach to depicting life for a set of 20-something women, Girls won't appeal to everyone because of its slow-moving pace and characters all designed to be disagreeable in some way.

  • Verdict: Sky Atlantic's Girls will engage your brain, but not necessarily your emotions.

    Star grade


What other reviewers said:

The Telegraph - "The show is still at its best when it's quietly satirising everyone involved."

Metro - "Girls is streets ahead of sitcom coevals such as New Girl and 2 Broke Girls."

What people said on Twitter:


@deanpiper - "Girls on Sky Atlantic is just so good. Best thing on TV right now. Well, Homeland is off air...."

@NicolaRosex - "I'm a few hours late, but second series of #girls is awesome can't wait till next week!!"

@JamieScripts - "I've kept SkyAtlantic on so long #girls has come back around! Have to watch it again, the universe wants me too. Not that it's sentient."

The views in this article are those of the author alone and not of MSN or Microsoft

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