Hannah Horvath, the main protagonist in HBO’s “Girls,” has been argued to be one of the most selfish and disliked characters currently on television. Time and time again, Hannah, played by the show’s creator Lena Dunham, has failed to meet the hopes and expectations of viewers; but, does that mean she can’t possibly be the voice of our generation?
On the contrary, she absolutely embodies the twenty-something’s view of today. Dunham’s character isn’t always likable, well, mostly isn’t likable, but that’s because she’s in her twenties and is struggling to find herself.
Hannah Horvath is the rawest form of “searching.” Searching for companionship, a career, self-love-- this all embodies the vibe of the generation. We focus on ourselves because we are looking for ourselves. Constantly criticizing our appearance and comparing ourselves to photoshopped beauties comes from a place of deep-rooted misunderstanding of ourselves. We take another’s beauty ideal and try to imprint it on ourselves instead of accepting our appearance for what it is and striving to make ourselves happy with it. Hannah said being thirteen pounds overweight has been a struggle her entire life and every individual with some extra meat has definitely felt the same way. We won’t embrace those extra pounds because we’ve been told it isn’t beautiful.
Hannah Horvath in her friendships and romantic relationships is most closely parallel to our generation. We surround ourselves with people and when we grow out of them we still cling to them because we fear the void of being alone more than we fear the loneliness of incorrect companionship.
Romantically, Hannah consistently makes matches that don’t quite fit and, instead of continuing for a perfect companionship, she settles for what she has; like two puzzle pieces trying to fit together. Of course, working on struggling relationships is healthy and normal but trying to make something that is toxic work isn’t. Her relationship with Adam, especially in the first season, is a prime example. He treats her heart “like monkey meat” but she keeps coming back for more. Maybe it’s the generational obsession with poetic misery and Hannah’s hunger to write that Dunham is trying to portray. Or, maybe her character is a manifestation of a trend of low self-worth. Regardless, Hannah’s relationships are not so far from today’s truth.
It’s Hannah’s self-absorption that receives the most criticism. In each of her interactions with friends, romantic interests and coworkers, she really does focus mainly on herself. Really, that isn’t far from the truth. Arguments involve focusing on herself. She doesn’t really care about the issues of others, mainly speaking about her own emotions and views and not taking into consideration the others. Hannah truly is a most intense version of selfishness, but every human has felt this way before: that their issues and problems were the most important and obviously worse than everyone else’s. Watching her interact like this is absolutely maddening, but at some point, the viewer takes a step back and relates to her in some form.
It is her struggle with mental illness, being diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder that hits close to home as well. Mental illness has always been present, but just recently has it become a topic of conversation. With Dunham, the show’s creator, having struggled with the disorder as well, she puts a new light on the illness; a light that really hasn’t been seen before. It is first-hand and not pretty, as many portrayals show mental illness. It isn’t beautiful and Dunham writes these instances with the disorder so well and in such a raw manner. Many have struggled with some type of mental illness by the time they reach the end of their twenties, especially with the growing stresses the world is plagued by. Dunham writes Hannah’s entire character with her illness in mind. Her self-absorption, hyper-critical behavior, and the general characteristics she displays of obsessive compulsive disorder add so much dimension to her character. Her struggle is relatable. Mental illness isn’t something you turn on and off. It becomes a piece of who you are and Dunham has written Hannah as such.
Overall, Hannah is the most basic form is parallel to today’s twenty-somethings. We are searching for ourselves and striving to keep composure as we grow and change. There is nothing fun about growing up and Hannah and “Girls” shows the ugliest parts of doing so.