The most recent episode of HBO’s hit show GIRLS prompted MSK to consider his fear of inadequacy. Here he examines how this happened.
Moments before writing this, I was criticizing Lena Dunham’s hit show GIRLS. I told my friend Elan that the show is about how girls go around breaking hearts and it’s cute and hip because it is usually men that get to break hearts on TV.
Then, after Elan went to bed, I tucked into this week’s episode “It’s a Shame About Ray”.
The episode caught my attention beyond entertainment. I noticed something in the storytelling that speaks directly to the mission of this blog: the significance of emotional honesty in the creative process.
I’d like to discuss that here, but to do so requires a bit of a spoiler alert and some personal dating history. Riveting, I know.
Here we go…
Ray and Shoshanna are sitting around the table enjoying a celebratory Pad Thai. Ray is asked where he is living now that his aunt has come back to the apartment he was staying at. Shoshanna gets upset when she realizes that he has been staying with her for the past month and has unofficially moved in.
I did that, literally. And that is the proper use of ‘literally’. A few years ago, when the lease came up at my old apartment I unofficially moved in with my ex-girlfriend. I didn’t ask her what she thought about it, I just did it.
Later in the episode, Ray and Shoshanna are waiting for the subway.
“You’re older than me you should have your own place,” Shoshanna says, “You should have like more interests, and passions and things that you do.”
I had finished my undergraduate degree and she was still in school. I worked at a coffee shop and the magazine I was working was never going to happen.
“Just say it, just fucking say it,” Ray says, interrupting her, “I’m a huge fucking loser. You don’t think I was counting down the days until you figured it out?”
That was my fear: she was going to figure out who I was, and I was a loser. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life so I pretended that I did, and if she ever found out then I would be alone.
So I held her far enough away from me that she wouldn’t know who I was, but close enough that I felt like I was her only option. At dinners with her parents, I would try to fabricate a direction for my life. On dates alone I try to be the person I thought she wanted me to be.
How fucked up is that?
She had to go all the way to Paris on a study abroad to get away from me. We broke up, but I’m pretty sure Shoshanna and Ray’s messy honesty brought them together.
My relationship and that of two fictional characters raised the question: what went into the creative development of the GIRLS episode?
Did Lena Dunham, who according to imdb.com wrote this episode, have a similar experience? If not, how is she so in touch with the human experience that she could recreate it perfectly?
I would like to know how the show touched upon my deepest personal fears of self-worth and loathing.