When you enter your twenties, the daunting feeling you’ve always had about age and generation gaps begins to blend. For example, Lena Dunham, the twenty-eight-year-old writer of Girls, would seem so much older and so much more superior if I were sixteen; but, now, being twenty-three, I realize that, technically, we are of the same generation. If we went out and did shots together, it would be totally normal and not at all inappropriate (and we would probably have a pretty fun time).

courtesy of HBO
Photo via HBO

Dunham’s show Girls has been widely praised for its “honest” way of storytelling, and because of that it has become the show that represents the women of my generation. With no disrespect to Miss Dunham, I find this very disappointing. Don’t get me wrong — I think she is an amazing, talented writer, and she has done a great deal to push women in the industry forward to accomplish their goals while demonstrating what it really means to be a feminist (rather than the popular “man hating” definition).

But… (and this is a big one) …

I belong to Generation Y, which means I was born between 1980-2000. Along with Miss Dunham, this generation includes Zooey Deschanel, Elizabeth Meriwether (creator and head writer of New Girl) and Mindy Kaling (who was technically born in 1979, but I’m placing her on our team because she’s AWESOME, and also, why not?). These ladies have truly changed the way women present themselves. They’ve changed the way we’re viewed. We are showrunners, lead actresses, self-made brands, and the best award show hosts three years running (I’m looking at you, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler!). Women belonging to Generation X like Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Marissa Mayer (CEO of Yahoo!, born in 1975) paved the way for us to become something more than just a nice face and feminine body.

For the past four years, viewers have tuned in on Sunday nights to watch Girls on HBO and observe as four twenty-something-year-old women (I use that term loosely) try to make it in New York, all the while complaining about how life is hard, life isn’t fair, and/or life is just crappy in general.

This wouldn’t bother me so much if it were just a regular old show, but it isn’t. Girls has put girls of this generation in a category that we have long tried to avoid: the category of people who will eventually whine themselves into a quarter-life crisis, resulting in multiple Ben & Jerryfilled meltdowns. As someone who always reevaluates her relationships and all the negative possibilities at least twice a day, I do relate to some of the characters’ qualities. However, I manage to avoid self-sabotaging behavior.

In season two of the show, Hannah, played by Lena Dunham, received an opportunity that most writers like myself would be THRILLED to get. She got an e-books deal, but she handled it by having a mental breakdown and an OCD scare. OCD is no joke, and neither is any other form of mental illness; however, it was dangerously close to being treated like one. Meanwhile, Charlie, a lead male character, handled his sudden overnight success (he created an app) in a much more “elegant” manner. All of a sudden, a character formerly known as a bum had a company of his own and was living the good life — all while keeping it together.  Although these were two completely separate storylines, why could the male character handle it when the female character couldn’t?

courtesy of HBO
Photo via HBO

Here’s another thing: Girls is filled with dialogue that gives Generation X a reason to be worried and ashamed of Generation Y. When a woman of Generation Y (i.e. Dunham) tells me that all my generation does is complain, I want to bow my head in defeat — or maybe throw something at the television. According to Girls, I’m supposed to be in the middle of a mental breakdown over the fact that my boyfriend hasn’t texted me in two hours.

Maybe one of the reasons I’m irritated is because, as a whole, I am very proud of most of the girls in my generation.  We’re more than mental breakdowns and nervousness and fretting about boys, that extra five pounds, and how to keep it together on a minute-to-minute basis. The one thing I will say in Girls’ defense is that Dunham shows that being a girl does not mean you have something to prove, and it doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to show weakness.

All I can say is: Good for you, ladies of Generation Y. We question things like “why do I have to get married in my twenties” and understand that, although we can have kids, we don’t have to. We see jobs like creator, writer, AND star of a show not only as a possibility, but as an actual career. Unlike the characters in Girls, we realize that we just don’t have time for mental breakdowns over little things because we will eventually feel better about ourselves when we are winning our Emmys or leading a million-dollar company like Sophia Amoruso — who, at twenty-two, is the founder of Nasty Gal. Our letdowns may not be our first and will definitely not be our last, but I know that my generation has become accustomed to the fact that with every failed opportunity comes a new one.

By the way, Tina Fey did a hilarious send-up of Girls on Saturday Night Live. You’ve probably already seen it, but it’s so brilliant (and accurate) that it’s worth watching again.


2 Replies to “Let’s Talk About My Generation”

  1. Excellent write up, Lara. I completely agree with you. There are many world-changing women in our generation and there are many who make “small” differences everyday. When I look at generation Y, I see people who possess massive potential. While embracing the future they are curious about the past and eager to prove their worth.

    But let’s be frank — we are all individuals each with our own flaws and strengths. I think our generation thrives because of our differences, which gives us multiple perspectives. I wish the title of this series (“Girls”) would have been more specific. Misrepresentation is damaging and I am sure that is not what Lena Dunham, of all people, would want.

  2. Thanks for the feedback/support!!

    I agree that misrepresentation is damaging and Lena Dunham would absolutely not want that, and with that I think it is very important for her and other potential female role models to recognize that they have young girls looking up to them, feeding off every word they throw out into the universe (although everyone should be their own individual…).

    Again, thanks for the comment!!!!!

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