Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Rooms on Film: Girls vs. Reality Bites

gen x's plaid, nubby, thrift store, lawn chair and beers vs. gen millennial's curtains, wall hangings, wine and bistro ambiance
When I was going through images to do a post on the few apartments that have appeared on HBO's new sitcom, Girls, it occurred to my generation never took so much interest in interior decorating. These apartments are pretty together compared to say...Reality Bites. Which of course led me to think of the many obvious similarities between that Gen X classic and this new look Gen Millennial.

Both stories examine groups of four friends, post college, who graduated during a recession and find themselves confronted with the twin realities of being tossed off the parental dole while enduring scut jobs (now known as 'bitch work') they hate, while still dreaming of artistic greatness. Voila! Oh, and there's guy trouble and guys coming out of the closet and a responsible roommie who wants to pay bills on time and...

awkward parental dinner
REALITY BITES: Whenever someone cites how awful this recession is for grads and how 85% of them are living with their parents, I think 'so what? gen x did the exact same thing in the mid-90s for the exact same reason. they called us slackers and blamed us for becoming waitresses and cashiers when there was no 'real' work to be found.' I respect this recession is far worse, but recessions come and go.

thrift furnishings from the early '80s covered in dirty laundry and smooshed pillows
the vintage kitchen set is actually cool
late '70s shaun cassidy poster - respect our cultural icons
this was a few years before gen x started circulating "child of the '80s" pop culture lists on email

So that's the raggedy-assed tale of my generation's baby steps into the 'real world.' Downright Spartan, right? 

reality buys you a good meal before it drops the hammer
GIRLS: Watching this show, once you get past the shocking depiction of sex that is fully devoid of emotion, two obvious pleasures surface. The first is the thrill of watching delusional young adults get pinkslipped. Watching Hannah talk herself out of an unpaid internship by demanding to be paid, then talking her way out of job offer by joking the hiring manager was a rapist? Hilarious!!! If you are over 30, you can relate to the dearth of professionalism now flooding into the workforce. If only real life had more immediate consequences for this kind of behavior. (What are they teaching people in college? They taught Gen X to dress right, speak right, write well, pay your dues, go beyond what's expected and to keep it professional.)

The other pleasure is a charming nostalgia of myself as a 24 year-old newbie. A little surge of that old feeling of being young, naive, and wide open to possibilities. Weightless! I mean look at these idiots. Even as they endure the day-to-day grind of New York City and the degradation of their poor choices, they're still so full of dreams their feet barely touch the asphalt. If they can just start valuing themselves sufficiently to ditch these loser man/boys and embrace their own power... these girls might do themselves proud. 

in the pilot the kitchen cabinets are wood and there is no fridge
in the second ep, the upper cabinets have been diy'd with paint and craft paper and an old fridge has been added
the sofa changes in ep2 two this graphic blue which balances with all the other colored furniture
all the interesting vintage pieces...and then that cheapshit black lamp that shows up in every cheap interior, even on makeover shows
upcoming episode: looks like even more revamping of the livingroom
a view of marnie's bedroom from the dining table
marnie's room: west elm bedding, a headboard is added in ep2
hannah's feminine bedroom (mostly urban outfitters and ikea)
And then there is Hannah and Marnie's friend, Shoshanna's glam-girl studio apartment which she is suddenly sharing with her aimless British cousin (their other friend) Jessa. Shoshanna seems to be employed and hasn't bitched about needing to be supported (although she clearly is) so far. Her pad makes the case the case for Gen X all on it's own:
this was shoshanna's pad in the pilot
and this was her pad after the pilot: fairly spacious for a studio
"sex & the city" poster: respect our cultural icons; clearly she's supported - west elm sofa and desk, brocade home tables, target lampshades, the ottomans and desk chair put it over the top!
the company store rug in ep2 changes to a shag in ep3 [correction: this dhurrie is next to the shag - one is the bedroom, the other is the livingroom]; plus, a hot pink kitchen
there's also a daybed for cousin jessa to crash on and add her own messy, globetrotting vibe
It'll be interesting to see how this show deals with helping these people find their ways. Especially given their disparate attitudes about themselves, sexuality and love. It's biggest comparison, Sex and the City, spent a lot of time helping 30-somethings struggle with more complicated versions of the same illness. Carrie in particular found male rejection - Mr. Big's anyway - knocked her pins right out from under her time and again. It would seem that Hannah and Jessa have the longest roads in front of them. 

Jessa's bravado will diminish with time as she begins to feel the long-term consequences of her selfish hedonism. Hannah, on the other hand, is going to have to find a way to believe that she deserves to live a dignified life. She's resourceful enough to support herself and she's good enough to win a man without offering convenient sex as the only lure. 

But that's gonna take, as I've often said of women I know, as long as it takes.

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