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TV Review | ‘Girls’ premiere promises engaging second second season

Premiere advances plot, but neglects remaining questions

Published: Friday, January 18, 2013

Updated: Friday, January 18, 2013 08:01

Young adulthood can be scary, and Lena Dunham’s hit HBO series “Girls” isn’t afraid to admit it. Since its first season last year, the comedy−drama has unapologetically conveyed the simultaneous awkwardness and exuberance that accompanies the transition into the “real world” by following aspiring writer Hannah (Lena Dunham) and her group of friends: Marnie (Allison Williams) is Hannah’s responsible best friend, Jessa (Jemima Kirke) is an unpredictable hippie traveler and Shoshana (Zosia Mamet) is Jessa’s naive, quirky cousin. It would seem that all the girls would clash with their conflicting personalities, yet Dunham kneads the characters into a cohesive group. All the characters share the same struggle in finding who they are as individuals and in surviving the harsh and unpredictable realities that they face as young women in New York City.

Unlike many shows on TV, “Girls” exposes a raw and often taboo side of young women venturing into the scary world of adulthood. The post−collegiate characters in “Girls” do not have the sculpted bodies or the “perfect” lives consistently portrayed by shows like “One Tree Hill” and “Gossip Girl.” Instead, the events and characters in this show feel organic, which makes sense as they were inspired by writer, director, producer and lead actor Lena Dunham’s personal experiences. This realistic touch is apparent in the show’s character casting, plot twists, impulsive nudity and abundance of weird and awkward encounters. Now that Dunham has four Emmy nominations and two Golden Globe awards (Best Actress and Best Comedy for “Girls”) under her belt, “Girls” is garnering critical and audience traction.

The season one finale ended with a cliffhanger, with all four of the friends growing as characters and copng with life challenges. Viewers were left in a tizzy as Shoshanna lost her virginity to Ray and Marnie moved out of the apartment she shared with her best friend, Hannah. Jessa married Thomas−John, a man she barely knew. Most shocking of all was Adam’s storyline: after having fallen in love with Hannah for all the wrong reasons, he is last seen getting hit by a truck and then being taken away in an ambulance without Hannah.

In the much anticipated season two premiere on Jan. 13, “Girls” returned with a new approach. Without holding back, Dunham created an episode that was memorable, though not completely satisfying. There were many questions left unanswered from the first season, and the episode may have worked better as an hour−long special.

Season two returned with the same cast but with a few surprise twists. Hannah seems to have dropped Adam romantically and is now secretly dating Sandy, played by Donald Glover. Housemates Elijah and Hannah decide to throw a karaoke party that leads to awkward encounters and regrettable decisions as Marnie runs into an ex−boyfriend, Shoshanna and Ray meet for the first time since they had sex, and Elijah and Marnie attempt and fail at sexual intimacy.

For the most part, each actor performed excellently in the season premiere. Two main components of the show, however, were missing. First, Adam and Hannah’s tumultuous relationship does not seem to have actually ended. Hannah frequently spends time with Adam, but never tells him about her new boyfriend, which causes some confusion about her relationship with Adam. Jessa and her new hubby Thomas−John, are seen for about 30 seconds close to the end of the episode. Their impulsive marriage seems unsurprising to Hannah, Shoshanna and Marnie. In fact, none of the characters even mention Jessa or her wedding to a man that she’s known for only a few days. Although it has only been one episode, these important storylines seem to be lacking in any sort of realistic continuation.

Lena Dunham and Zosia Mamet should be commended for their portrayals of Hanna and Shoshanna. Both actresses engagingly provided viewers with a different side of their characters’ personalities. Hopefully, season two will return to the questions left unanswered from season one, but it’s too soon to tell. These characters have taken New York City by storm and overall, the season premiere promises viewers plenty of excitement, drama and plot twists. Who knows? Maybe even Donald Glover will stick around.

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