Tuesday 19 November 2019

Girls Gone Mild - Ian O'Doherty reviews Girls, Celebrity Big Brother, and Charlie

*Girls, Sky Atlantic, *Celebrity Big Brother, Channel 5, *Charlie, RTE One

Allison Williams plays Marnie in Girls
Allison Williams plays Marnie in Girls
Lena Dunham in Girls
Ian O'Doherty

Ian O'Doherty

This has been a bad few months for the ultimate pin-up girl of Millennial entitlement, Lena Dunham.

Thanks to some well-placed parental contacts and the imprimatur of the New York Times (the most boring newspaper in the Western world), Dunham's role as writer/actor on the sporadically amusing comedy Girls somehow saw her hailed the voice of her generation. And what a terrible insult that is to twentysomethings everywhere.

But following the release of her not-at-all premature memoirs, Not That Kind Of Girl, things suddenly became a bit too real for the pampered princess.

After falsely accusing a man called 'Barry' of raping her in college, and then changing her story several times when she was repeatedly caught out in a succession of lies, her publisher was forced to rewrite the relevant passages in future editions of the book and pay his legal costs. So, with most American news organisations - except the New York Times, natch - smelling blood in the water, her future career prospects look a lot less stellar than they did when the book first came out.

The hit on Dunham's reputation has been mirrored in the ratings catastrophe that greeted the Season 4 opener when it returned in the States on Sunday. Garnering fewer than 700,000 viewers, that rating showed a chunky 40pc drop in audience figures, which even for a relatively niche network like HBO is an embarrassingly bad showing.

We didn't get to see it until a day later on this side of the pond - which shows how connected global TV markets now are - and it's safe to say that most critics sat down to watch with their knives and cudgels at the ready.

Actually, as it happens, there were some genuinely funny moments, even if they were only to be found in the throwaway lines.

Dunham's idiot boyfriend Adam, for example, returned from another failed audition in full biker gang regalia, pissed that he had worn the gear.

"They wanted more a 'Tour de France' sorta biker'," he huffed in dis-appointment.

Of course, defenders of Dunham and the show like to point out that it is not a comedy at all, rather it is a 'dramedy', that hideous portmanteau that's used when a show isn't funny enough to be called a comedy and not serious enough to be a drama.

Inevitably, the usual hipster clichés were present, most notably when Marnie finds herself performing at a jazz brunch in a macrobiotic cafe - for a show that has been accused of being 'too white', I reckon combining jazz and brunch in a macrobiotic restaurant might well be the whitest thing since the Ku Klux Klan had their Christmas party. In the snow.

There was the usual sex scene included to get tongues wagging, as it were, but two things remain impenetrable - Dunham's stunning sense of entitlement as Hannah, and Zosia Mamet's Shoshanna, who still communicates in a blizzard of virtually unintelligible chirps and cheeps which presumably is the latest Manic Pixie Dream Girl cliché.

It wasn't the worst episode of this show I've ever seen, which is probably the highest praise I can think of. Of course, on Planet Dunham, anyone who doesn't think Girls is a work of groundbreaking genius is simply dismissed as a 'hater'.

Sweetheart, your little show ain't that shocking and you're not worth that much emotion.

Emotion, of course, is what fuels Celebrity Big Brother. Well, emotion and booze. OK, emotion, booze and the bitter realisation that your career has fallen so low that you're reduced to appearing on this thing.

The celebrity spin-off started as a Comic Relief fundraiser but the producers obviously realised that charity begins at home so a few has-beens, past-its, never-weres and who-are-theys? have once more been gathered in one place so the viewing proles can watch people they kinda recognise having a nervous breakdown in front of them.

The cast list doesn't even matter anymore. As we see from Gogglebox, people are now just as happy to watch punters say the stupidest things as they are micro celebs.

But this season has been notable for one thing - everybody, from the producers to the cast to the viewing public, is now permanently on the look out for any offence, real or perceived. In fact, that now seems to be the entire reason for the show's continued existence - to prod celebrities into saying something stupid and then feigning outrage when they do.

So far, two slebs have been expelled, one of them had to go to the cops to accept a caution (obviously the Rozzers in Britain are big fans) and yesterday saw Katie Hopkins reprimanded for using the word 'lunatic' because apparently even that word is now offensive.

Which, when you think about it, is completely bonkers.

Having been rather nonplussed by the first episode of Charlie, many viewers will feel that Sunday's second instalment clicked everything into place.

They're effectively playing it as a comedy drama - just don't call it dramedy - and painting the characters as such cartoonish figures they could have produced it as a piece of Japanese manga.

Certainly, the sight of Des O'Malley defending the Constitution with an Iraqi sword during a brawl was a sight to behold, but few portrayals of a real figure will last as long in the memory as Gavin O'Connor's inspired turn as Sean Doherty - part lickspittle, part Minister for Sinister and all buffoon.

I don't blame his family for being pissed off about the portrayal.

But given his poisonous role in Irish history, I'm sure his family can't blame us for laughing our asses off.

READ: Girls series 4 review: Will these self-obsessed Brooklynite brats ever grow up?

Irish Independent

Editors Choice

Also in Entertainment

Back to top