Lena Dunham be damned, because the ‘guys’ of ‘Girls’ are pretty interesting too

The trailer for Season 3 of Girls (which comes back January 12th) is on YouTube today / embedded above, and cultural responses have rolled in from all corners of the Internet: for example, The Wire — which used to be called The Atlantic Wire, but wants to cash in on the cultural panache of Jimmy McNulty, as we all do — says the trailer should make us all hate Marnie, and quickly. (Michael Zegen may be her new boyfriend, though, because the show bounced Charlie.) Shoshanna’s fashions are in the limelight, and that’s become a thing on Twitter too, apparently:

Alright, so … first thing I’ll say is that the title of this post is kinda stupid, and that’s my fault. Lena Dunham wouldn’t be damned, since she helped create those characters (the male ones) as well; the guy who plays Ray discusses that very aspect here. So, first and foremost, apologies for a vague, possibly stupid title. Next things next: I actually watch Girls, and I watch it fairly religiously. I had no idea WTF it was when it started, but I watched all 10 episodes of the first season in about six hours right after the first season ended. I was never a mid-20-something girl in NYC, but I was a mid-20-something guy in NYC, and I was hella confused about my life then (for different reasons than I am now). I never felt a direct connection to Adam, Charlie or Ray specifically, but … I also disagree with James Franco, in that I don’t think they are loser characters. 

I feel like when you’re 25, 26 and a dude in NYC, and maybe you have a vague relationship or maybe you don’t, you expect your social life to be really cool, and you sell it to others as really cool, but it’s entirely possible you’re spending entire weekend days with someone you only tangentially know looking for a dog in the outer boroughs. Weirder shit than this has constituted an entire Saturday for me. 

I think Adam Driver is a great actor, and while I thought parts of Season 2 as a whole were “uneven” — that’s a great word to use if you want to shit on something in a nice way — and his character was kind of less-focused than in Season 1, I still think he’s a centerpiece of the show. When the Season 3 trailer opened with a scene of him taking Hannah to some woody outpost, I was instantly relieved about what’s coming next.

You can also make the case, statistically speaking, that Girls is really a show guys like: 56 percent of its ‘linear’ audience is male (oddly, 22 percent of the males are over 50, which might be creepy). Jezebel also has an entire recurring series of ‘Boys Who Talk About Girls;’ here’s one such entry.  (This post claims the show doesn’t get male characters right, and this one talks about how Dirty Harry and Bright Eyes morphed together in this show. Both interesting in their own right.)

This is a highly-ranked Google piece on the male perspective, but it mostly has to do with ‘fat-shaming’ Dunham and other characters for getting naked too much. I was thinking about this a lot recently, and I have no idea why: Dunham is a pretty good character on the show, but there are some odd, throw-away type episodes (like when she has sex all weekend with Patrick Wilson) and often, she can be grating; Shoshanna got some depth in her relationship with Ray, but before that, she seemed to predominantly be played for comic relief; I personally loved Marnie but that might be because I like her real-life dad and her relationship with Ricky Van Veen, which seems cool — although that Kanye-singing scene last season was fucking awful. I like Jessa but she disappeared for the back end of last season, or so it seemed, and I never felt like the her-and-Chris O’Dowd-thing was really there, so … eh. My point is, I’m basically saying that, at best, 2.25 of the female characters are interesting. Ray made Shoshanna interesting, Adam is super interesting (erratic in Season 2, yes), Charlie was a little bit grating but his scenes were usually played to the right pitch, and then you have that one episode with Childish Gambino. On sheer math alone, the guys are winning as “interesting characters.” (In one lame-brained person’s view, of course.)

As a semi-irrelevant side note, did you know Adam Driver was a 2012 GQ Man of the Year? And the video they produced along with it features sun-dress-wearing ladies chasing him through the streets? Odd.

Not sure I’ve made a major point here, but I guess the idea is this: I like the male characters on Girls. I often find them more interesting, dramatic, and complicated than the female characters. Part of that is because I have a penis, so I can relate to some of the situations they face on the show from their perspective (I’d hope). Part of it is because it seems that the biggest cultural knockdown of the male characters has come from James Franco, who probably had nothing even remotely similar to an average mid-20s for a dude (since he may have been slogging Lindsay Lohan for a portion of it). Judd Apatow might have had a more normal 20s, since I think around that time he was living in a shitty apartment with Adam Sandler. Apatow is a factor in the creative process of Girls. Maybe that keeps the male characters semi-relevant and grounded. I’m not sure.

Regardless, I am a dude, and come January 12th, I will be watching (not live, because I gave up cable). And part of the reason I will be watching is, indeed, the male characters. Hell, maybe it’s most of the reason. I just hope there isn’t another Patrick Wilson interlude (although yes, he is an attractive almost-middle-aged man).

Ted Bauer