Girls finally premieres this weekend. If you live in New York, you probably feel as if you’ve already seen the show. If you don’t, here’s a quick history: The show’s written and directed by Lena Dunham, the twenty-five year old smarty pants behind last year’s runaway indie hit, Tiny Furniture. Dunham plays Hannah, a twenty-four year old Brooklynite by-way-of-the-Midwest, living with her best friend Marnie, played by Allison Williams. (Yes, everyone on this show is the child of someone famous.) Marnie, Hannah, and two other girls try to navigate their early 20s in New York—a generally miserable experience—while broke, confused and having awkward, not La Perla-covered sex.
Naturally, not a review’s been written that doesn’t mention Sex and the City. Below, we highlight all the ways in which the show, which swears it’s not the second coming of Sex and the City, has been compared to HBO’s landmark comedy.
The New Yorker‘s Emily Nussbaum, for New York Magazine: “Despite the denials at HBO and by the show’s creators (it was practically a mantra on set that Girls is not the new Sex and the City), Girls is a post–Sex and the City show, albeit one with an aesthetic that’s raw and bruised, not aspirational. Sex and the City first achieved notoriety when its characters debated the power dynamics of anal sex during a cab ride, during the “up-the-butt girl” episode. In Girls, that discussion is not abstract: It’s Hannah, naked, on her knees, chattering anxiously as Adam pulls on (she hopes) a condom, trying to get some reassurance that he’s not heading in the wrong direction.”
Richard Lawson, at The Atlantic, hates that he feels forced to mention the 90s hit, but still does: “While, yes, Girls is a show about four women in New York City same as Sex and the City was, that earlier show is an insane cartoon compared to what Dunham has made. Which isn’t to say that Girls is necessarily better—Sex and the City was then and remains still a fine television show—just that its aims and approach are entirely different.”
Katie Roiphe, at Slate, focuses on the show’s sex scenes: “If there is in Girls an implied critique of Sex in the City for depicting women having sex in $100 bras all the time, for romanticizing sex, this kind of comic deflation represents its own kind of distancing from the usual truth of these things, which surely involves a little more erotic investment than is being copped to here.
Mary McNamara at the LA Times: “Too often infantilized or eroticized, women in their early 20s make people nervous, which is why most shows about these topics skew either nostalgic or older; Sex and the City, to which Girls certainly owes a debt of gratitude, managed to push the archetype into the peri-menopausal years. But Dunham is no more afraid of herself or her peers than she is of her own body, which is shown in all its non-Hollywood-ideal splendor.”
Allesandra Stanley mentions Sex and the City in four of the first five paragraphs of her review for The New York Times: “Sex and the City served up romantic failure wrapped in the trappings of success. Girls offers romantic failure wrapped in the trappings of failure.”
Maureen Ryan at the Huffington Post: “Girls is all of those things, and yet it feels new. It’s not a mashup of various concepts we’ve seen a hundred times, nor is it an updated Sex and the City (an inevitable comparison, which Girls addresses head-on). It’s the distillation of a distinctive, incisive and brutally funny point of view and most importantly, it’s its own thing. Girls is a fresh and wonderfully realized show that feels like nothing else on TV.”
The Hollywood Reporter‘s Tim Goodman: “Any comparison to the older HBO series Sex and the City is wide of the mark in numerous ways. Where that series had a high sheen to it and was all about finding men and shoes and happiness (about in that order), and the four variations on a feminine theme came together all-too-neatly for lunch and chat sessions, Girls is a much more lo-fi, rooted-in-realism affair, and it mines the honesty of its characters in such a way that it produces both robust comedy and genuine, emotionally dramatic moments.”
Tune into HBO this Sunday at 10:30 to catch the premiere of Girls.