Few shows last year drew more insipid criticisms than Lena Dunham’s “Girls,” which burst out of the gate with a roaringly funny pilot and charges varying from nepotism to racism. No matter how much controversy the Internet kicked up, the sharpness of Dunham’s voice and her unshakable understanding of her characters never faltered, and “Girls,” which returned Sunday night for its second season, earned its spot as one of the funniest shows on television.
Season two finds Hannah (Dunham) and friends living the free-floating lives of young New Yorkers. Hannah’s relationship with Adam (Adam Driver) has only gotten stranger since she ended things, and after the events of the season premier, things are probably going to get pretty tense with her roommate/gay ex-boyfriend Elijah (Andrew Rannells) and best friend Marnie (Allison Williams). Meanwhile, Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet) deals with romantic turmoil and Jessa (Jemima Kirke) struggles with the new realities of her life after marrying Thomas-John (Chris O’Dowd).
Dunham’s cutting wit is practically the star of “Girls,” and she truly understands the people of her time and place. Her cast is packed with hilarious figures, and even minor characters like love interest Sandy (Donald Glover) and Elijah get personalities, quirks and typically observant, sly dialogue. It’s remarkable how Dunham’s voice shines through in each of her characters without diluting their distinctness, from Shoshanna’s motor-mouthed collection of neuroses to Jessa’s loopy self-destructiveness.
Allison Williams is probably the show’s most abrasive presence, but even her character, Marnie, gets the occasional moment of pathos. Jemima Kirke barely registered in last night’s episode, but her new marriage is the season’s weakest story line so far, an unfocused exploration of a half-baked storyline. Nonetheless, Kirke’s confidence is infectious, and it’s hard not to love her half-cocked presence. Meanwhile, Zosia Mamet has developed into a golden comedic presence over the last season, getting just as big a laugh from a silent reaction or a ridiculous outfit as from one of Dunham’s one-liners.
Lena Dunham loves making Hannah’s life a special kind of disaster, and the closer she is to a nervous breakdown, the funnier “Girls” becomes. She’s not afraid to make her characters unlikable, or even unreasonable, but they’re always recognizably human, and that’s what makes “Girls” such an affable show. It’s easy to relate to the characters’ experiences, and Dunham’s handle on her world and the people she’s filled it with make ”Girls” a unique, exhilarating and hilarious show.
Published on January 14, 2013 as "'Girls' returns with same wit and humor".