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HBO’s half-hour “dramedy” Girls can in many ways be seen as the natural evolution of the female story that started with their hit series Sex and the City a couple decades earlier. It may seem a bit less glitzy and more down to earth, but ultimately creator Lena Dunham’s series is no less concerned with a certain class of women that are probably far removed from the average, everyday viewer. Like her feature film Tiny Furniture, Dunham’s world is one of hipsters, artsy brownstones, and people with problems some of wish we only had. All of that aside, the series has one critical acclaim, mostly due to its “edgy” look at a group of twenty-something women as they navigate the bumpy road of sex, work, and friendship in their privileged, upper class and upper middle class New York City world. Don’t get me wrong, Dunham has a knack for turning in some flashes of true comedic gold, such as the moment in season two where her character Hannah gets into a row with her black, Republican boyfriend, mentions the percentage of black men incarcerated in prison, drops a Missy Elliot lyric, then denies that she seems him as black or was even talking about race. When she’s not being comedic with Girls, she’s pushing the limits sexually, like the shocking and controversial episode “On All Fours”, where Adam Sackler (Adam Driver) has rough sex with his new girlfriend Natalia (Shiri Appleby), then ejaculates on her chest, much to her surprise. It’s a boundary pushing scene both for HBO and for Appleby, still known in a big way for her girl-next-door turn on the 90s WB series Roswell.
There are some interesting places to go and things to see in Girls, season one or two, from the dark recesses or the funniest twists, but they are, still, places you would only want to visit. Dunham has not mastered, yet, the inability to mask her pretensions, which is what always keeps Girls at arm’s length, rather than something really down home, like the edgy and funny series like Bored to Death, which was woefully received, perhaps due to it not being the one and only female-centric series on the network.
Girls continues to be shot on the Arri Alexa in high definition and arrives on Blu-ray in an AVC/MPEG-4 1080p encodement from HBO. While overall gamma tends to look just slightly on the higher side, the image here is strong, often crisply detailed, and certainly beautifully nuanced in the shadows.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit) soundtrack really comes alive when the musical soundtrack, typically a mixture of alt-rock and AAA, is pushed to the fore. The otherwise mellow, dialogue-driven mix, maintains some low level atmospheric effects in the surround channels which is satisfying, but is ultimately hampered by some mild but noticeable clipping in the dialogue during most of the louder passages.
We get a solid selection of extras that run the gamut from cast and crew audio commentaries to multiple interviews with show creator, actor, and writer Lena Dunham.
- iTunes and UltraViolet Digital Copy
- Audio Commentaries
- Deleted & Extended Scenes
- Episode 5 Table Read (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:23:08)
- Charlie Rose: Lena Dunham (1.78:1; 1080i/60; 00:28:54)
- The New Yorker Festival 2012: Emily Nussbaum Interviews Lena Dunham (1.78:1; SD; 01:25:53)
- Inside the Episodes
- Guys on Girls (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:18:21)
- The Making of Girls (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:15:03)
- Gag Reel Part 1 (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:05:43)
- Gag Reel Part 2 (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:04:20)
- Judy Collins – “Song for Judith (Open the Door)”
- Judy Collins – “Someday Soon”
- The Swell Season (with Special guest Daniel Johnston) – “Life in Vain” – Austin City Limits, 2008
The Definitive Word
Girls continues to push boundaries in the second season, even if the series also continues to be somewhat more of a lens on those with problems others only wish they could have. Dunham’s comedy may fly over some heads, but her skills, both as a writer and director, are definitely sharp at times, just not consistent over an entire season.
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