People sure are concerned with Girls (9 p.m. Sundays, HBO) for a time when television is full of objectionable content — terrorists, gigolos, Bill O’Reilly, etc. For better or worse, Lena Dunham’s comedy has garnered a ton of attention since its premiere in April 2012.
Despite ample criticism, the show has developed a loyal following of fans and, after Jan. 13’s Golden Globes, Girls has critical backing, too (as the second season kicked off that Sunday, Dunham was walking away with Best Actress – Comedy/Musical Series and Girls was awarded Best Comedy/Musical Series).
It’s important to understand that it’s OK to not love the show’s lead, Hannah. She’s entitled, capricious and self-absorbed. Maybe some of her quirks are irritatingly reminiscent of your own. Hannah isn’t the most likable protagonist, so you’re supposed to be annoyed by her and you don’t have to be attracted to her (cue the endless conversations about Dunham’s nudity in Girls). Yes, there’s lots of nudity, but not as a type of lure for male viewers, but rather because when most people have sex (or sometimes just when hanging out at home), they get naked.
Hannah isn’t supposed to be a 21st century role model, but she is most definitely a modern archetype: a struggling twentysomething whose lofty aspirations don’t quite match her achievements — yet. Through Hannah and the directing/writing of other characters, Dunham taps into a genuine female perspective — even if that perspective doesn’t mirror every viewer’s.
While playful, unpretentious and at times light, Girls is not a show for those who like their TV spoon-fed to them. It’s a comedy, but be prepared to groan at Hannah’s poor decisions, turn beet-faced during uncomfortable sex scenes and laugh at the absurdity of this ragtag group of New Yorkers.
WEDNESDAY JAN. 16
American Horror Story: Asylum (10 p.m., FX) – A new inmate threatens Jude’s release from Briarcliff; Grace develops a disturbing obsession with the aliens. Keep your eyes peeled for a major clue about Season Three’s plot/setting — tiny hints dropped in the past couple episodes have been leading up to this.
Workaholics (Season Premiere, 10 p.m., Comedy Central) – When TelAmeriCorp has an employee roast, Blake, Adam and Ders aim to secure their status as the office comics.
Kroll Show (Series Premiere, 10:30 p.m., Comedy Central) – Nick Kroll (Ruxin from The League) debuts his sketch comedy series.
THURSDAY JAN. 17
30 Rock (8 p.m., NBC) – Jack brings Liz to Florida to settle his mother’s estate, where they discover a secret about Colleen. Tracy and Jenna are in charge of TGS in their absence, leaving Kenneth to pick up the pieces.
Parks and Recreation (8:30 p.m., NBC) – It’s bachelor/bachelorette party time for Ben and Les!
Project Runway All Stars (Season Finale, 8 p.m., Lifetime) – Offed All Stars help Uli, Anthony Ryan and Emilio complete their final collections and one designer gets runway redemption.
FRIDAY JAN. 18
Portlandia (10 p.m., IFC) – Toni and Candace host comedy night at Women & Women First; disappointed in children’s music options, Brendan and Michelle start a kid-friendly band; the Portland Nerd Council releases a PSA.
SATURDAY JAN. 19
Saturday Night Live (11:30 p.m., NBC) – Fresh off her Golden Globes win (Best Actress, Silver Linings Playbook), the lovable Jennifer Lawrence hosts with musical guests The Lumineers.
SUNDAY JAN. 20
Shameless (9 p.m., Showtime) – Did the writers seriously just reboot last season’s main Steve/Jimmy plot?
TUESDAY JAN. 22
Ramsay Behind Bars (Series Premiere, 9 p.m., BBC) – Chef Gordon Ramsay enters a London prison to teach inmates how to cook and work a kitchen. If this were an American show, I wouldn’t take notice, but BBC will likely do it right, making for a compelling series.
Parenthood (Season Finale, 10 p.m., NBC) – Sarah must choose between Mark or Hank; Joel and Julie make a critical decision regarding Victor’s adoption; and because this show sets to break the record for TV pregnancies, another Braverman might be on the way.
CONTACT JAC KERN: firstname.lastname@example.org or @jackern