Posted by: Kristen Hicks | March 15, 2013

On Girls and Cassavetes


When I reached the end of this AVClub piece about Girls, it dawned on me that the closest thing I’ve had to the experience of watching the show is that of watching several films directed by John Cassavetes in college. They both effectively portray fascinating moments that reveal something about human nature that cause discomfort in a way that feels a little too familiar.

It’s been a while since I saw Faces and Shadows, but I remember being struck by the many scenes where characters seemed to lose access to the version of themselves they choose to show the world, and slip into a version that’s normally contained. Usually with the help of plenty of alcohol and some sort of personal drama, the stories people create to communicate who they are to the world get drowned out by raw expressions of emotion.

This isn’t to say the person you are at a formal event is a distinct entity from the person you are when baring your emotions to close friends after one too many cocktails, but that there’s something that rings true to seeing these intimate, awkward moments portrayed by characters from a distance. I think one of the reasons people have some strong reactions to the show is just how effective so many scenes are at making us face that discomfort and any memories it may invoke.

I haven’t had many experiences all that similar to Hannah Horvath’s, but I have had experiences that inspired similar feelings to what I imagine her character going through.

I wasn’t sure how I felt about Girls when I first started watching it, it’s a show that can make you feel and think about such a wide range of things that it can be hard to pin down one opinion on it. I knew it had moments I found funny, some that felt true, others that made me feel uncomfortable to watch, and that it was doing something different than I’d seen done before. In spite of all the positive in that statement, I wasn’t sure yet though if I liked it. I don’t think it was until I watched the beginning of the 2nd season and realized I’d genuinely missed the show that I accepted that I not only like it, but it’s one of the shows I look forward to each new episode of the most.

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