One of the shows that received a lot of media attention within the last few years is HBO’s Girls. The show, which takes a “realistic” look (without being a reality show) at life as a twenty-something in New York has been praised for its avant-garde script and filming style, but it has also been widely criticized for its principles which highlight various social inequalities in the media through race, gender and class.
The show helps reinforce the ideology that when you are young and living in New York, you can’t always make everything work and that times can be tough, in comparison to a show like Gossip Girl where the cast consists of the elite members of New York Society. The social norms in Girls focus on unemployment, breakups and trying to have fun while figuring yourself out. Girls is relatable to its audience because it taps into these emotional uncertainties that most twenty-something’s are feeling.
While the plot takes its own unique and creative spin on these social norms, it still reinforces various social inequalities in the media. For one, the lack of diversity in the cast, the four main actresses are all white females and while not all of them stick to the stereotypes of blonde, thin women, they are all upper-middle class college graduates and are privileged enough to be able to afford to live in Brooklyn (though some are unemployed). The show does incorporate various people of color and a “gay best friend” character, but their roles are less significant than the female protagonists.
In one way, the show does challenge the stereotype of having a white male protagonist and instead features Hannah Horvach a feminist, but while Hannah claims to be a feminist, she also heavily relies on her boyfriend and is not independent; therefore reinforcing the gender roles in the media that men are stronger and more dominant in a relationship.
Overall, Girls is a very entertaining show and tries to portray life as a twenty-something in New York as realistically as possible, but its ideologies are contradictory and continue to support social inequalities in the media.