Thu. October 3
Tina Fey, Lena Dunham and the Vapid Ethos of ‘Girls’
On the season premiere of Saturday Night Live, guest host (and former SNL luminary) Tina Fey starred in a skit lampooning HBO’s popular drama Girls. I’m here to tell you that it was hilarious. One of the funnier sketches I’ve seen in a long time. Watch it right now, if you don’t believe me.
It doesn’t take McGruff the Crime Dog to piece together that for R.J. to find this skit so particularly funny, he would have to be at least somewhat familiar with Girls and its characters. Well, I am sorry to report that I am indeed familiar with the show and its cast. In fact, I watched the entire first season of Girls when it debuted last year.
I’ve only recently gathered up enough emotional strength to publicly admit this grand folly.
If you’re a straight male not named Judd Apatow, Girls is a mind-numbing marathon of your patience. It’s the worst. I dislike everything about it, everything it depicts, everything it represents, and the accolades it receives from fawning media critics.
Tina Fey’s SNL sketch, regardless of her personal motivations (which I assume are not my own), encapsulates so much of what is wrong with the ethos of Girls.
For those not familiar it, Girls follows the bohemian adventures of four emotionally-weak, self-absorbed up-and-coming twenty-somethings as they hang out in Brooklyn and deal with stressful, real-world situations like “The psychotic sculptor/playwright who I indiscriminately have sex with all of the time doesn’t appear to respect me as much as he does his art” and that age-old conundrum of “I want to write crappy essays for a living, but I also want to have my parents give me money without them resenting me for it.”
Hey, but don’t you worry – these ladies are keeping it real, son! For starters, you should all be grateful that Lena Dunham isn’t the typical “hot girl” actress. The chick is “super brave” and should continue to be heralded throughout the land for being willing to show her lumpy naked body on premium cable. This, we’re led to believe, makes up for the immorality, debauchery, bad acting, and smugness one must endure during any given episode of the trendy show.
In the SNL sketch last weekend, Fey plays a fictional Albanian character named Blerta who serves as the voice of reason among a gaggle of babbling post-modern broads.
When the girl portraying Lena Dunham’s “Hannah” is excited to learn that Blerta also suffers from a self-diagnosed case of “Obsessive Compulsive Disorder,” Blerta informs Hannah that in Albania the acronym “OCD” stands for “Old Cow Disease” where, and I quote, “Old cow bites you and disease affects the skin…it’s why I have a rubber hand.”
When the girl playing “Jessa” – the token British tart on the show – brags about a random hook-up with her cab driver the night before, Blerta asks what we’re all thinking:
“So you are prostitute?”
“No. It’s not prostitution if you don’t get paid.”
“So you are unpaid prostitute? You are lower than dog.”
Best of all, when the actress playing the Girls character Shoshanna – not known for having much of what the kids call “street’s smart” – starts rambling on incoherently about a boy she likes, Blerta hurriedly insists that Shoshanna put a cork in it and heed her worldly advice:
“Don’t speak,” Blerta says, after slapping Shosh. “If you speak, they will know you are simple. If they know you are simple, they will drown you in river.”
Apart from being a well-crafted piece of pop-culture satire, the SNL sketch ought to serve as a sobering reminder to any who might find themselves captivated by the lives of Lena Dunham and her pals. Blerta speaks for the 99% of the globe throughout human history that, should they be so lucky as to find themselves in front of a TV, would laugh themselves to sleep when once they heard what passes for “drama” in the lives of members of my generation.
Girls may be “just a TV show,” but for millions of young people, it is wildly popular and highly influential. Of course it’s not only Girls that is informing and shaping the worldview of Millennials across the country, but it is yet another artistic, celebrated coordinate being plotted on a cultural map that is guiding my generation to think promiscuous, self-indulgent, self-medicating lifestyles are things to be desired.
Much like this excellent send-up of HBO’s The Newsroom from the gang at FunnyOrDie, the SNL sketch above shows you just how powerful the medium of quality comedy and satire can be. Those of us who fall outside of the progressive parameters of the prevailing worldview in Hollywood would do well to take note.
Funny trumps (and exposes) all.