HBO’s critically acclaimed show “Girls” returned for its second season on Jan. 13, after winning the Golden Globe for Best Television Series — Musical or Comedy. To promote the new season, HBO invited a number of the show’s Facebook fans to a reception and advanced screening of this season’s first two episodes in University City on Jan. 17.
The series follows a group of 20-something girls as they navigate collegiate and post-collegiate life in New York City and is heavily influenced by creator Lena Dunham’s own experiences.
Dunham, 26, who also stars as protagonist Hannah Horvath, won the Golden Globe for Best Actress — Television Series Musical or Comedy and has been nominated for Emmys for her acting, writing and directing.
While being praised for its realistic and hilarious take on modern women and relationships, the show has been criticized for its lack of diversity and vapid characters.
The event, part of HBO’s Girls Night Out promotion, was held at Rave Cinemas at 40th and Walnut streets. Along with a photo booth and love gurus, the reception featured an open bar and hors d’oeuvres. Playing in the background were tunes from the show’s soundtrack, including indie-pop artists such as fun., Tegan and Sara and Grouplove, as well as Robyn’s “Dancing On My Own,” which was used in a memorable scene in the show’s first season.
One attendee, Russell Abdo, 20, saw both sides of “Girls.”
“I think it’s great. I think it’s really fun. I don’t think it’s ‘the voice of our generation,’”
Abdo said, referring to a scene in the show’s pilot episode in which the main character claims that she may be just that.
“I respect Lena Dunham,” Abdo said. “I do have a lot of issues with her, but I like the fact that she makes you think and that she forces you to have an opinion and talk that out. So, if anything, it sparks discussion, which I think is good in any piece of television or film or media whatsoever.”
Horvath and her friends Marnie Michaels, Jessa Johansson and Shoshanna Shapiro, have drawn comparisons to another group of four female friends on HBO: Carrie Bradshaw and the ladies of “Sex and the City.”
“Obviously there are these very cliché characters and very specific roles they are trying to fill through the four girls and it’s like ‘Sex and the City’ in that they have these four very different personalities,” Abdo said.
Like fans of “Sex and the City,” “Girls” fans have taken to describing themselves in terms of the characters. Abdo considers himself a mix between Marnie and Shoshanna with a little bit of Jessa, while Nicole Grabowski, 21, said she is “definitely Shoshanna.”
“I do think [the show is] applicable to a lot of people our age and in our generation,” Grabowski said. “All of these things, these real life situations happen through these, like, really outrageous characters. It’s an interesting dynamic.”
Attendees were a group of almost exclusively 20-something men and women. As an HBO representative commented while introducing the episodes, the group was “exactly the kind of people that Hannah and her friends would be hanging out with.”
Just how much the group identified with the show’s world was demonstrated by how they reacted to the episodes: a scattering of applause when Shoshanna declared, “I only want to date people who want to date me because that is called self-respect,” to the guy who blew her off after sex and groans of “oh no” during a scene in which Horvath attempts to cut her own bangs.
Season two of “Girls” picks up after Johanson’s surprise wedding in the season one finale. Horvath is taking it slow with her new boyfriend, played by Donald Glover from “Community,” while trying to distance herself from ex “main hang” Adam Sackler. Michaels, after moving out of her apartment and breaking up with her boyfriend, now finds herself jobless after being downsized. College student Shapiro embraces her womanhood after losing her virginity, and Johanson returns from her honeymoon only to realize that she has no idea where her new husband lives.
While most of the screening’s attendees were fans eager for a sneak peek of the new season, for some, like Anita Gade, the screening was an opportunity to see the show for the first time.
“I thought it was a very raw portrayal of girls,” said Gade, a student at the University of Pennsylvania. “Unlike most shows that have a lot of clichés or fillers, it was a very clean show and something that I can relate to and identify with.”
“Girls” airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on HBO.
Sara Patterson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.