Everything ‘Girls’ Gets Right (and Completely Wrong) About Life in Your 20s

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This Sunday night, 20-somethings everywhere will be pulling their crop tops out of summer storage and dancing on their own to Icona Pop to herald the return of the critically acclaimed HBO series "Girls." Much of the show's accolades stem from the fact that it's one of the most genuine shows on television and accurately offers a glimpse into the lives of Millennials in New York. Personally, I find myself saying stuff like "I'm such a Marnie," "that was so Hannah of you," "Shosh would totes wear that" or "Jessa has that same fedora." But, with all of the things that ring true, there are also those that starkly stand out as silly and unbelievable. Read on for some of the most realistic and applicable aspects of "Girls," as well as those moments that haven't happened to any 20-something ever ... at least none that I've ever met.

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Hannah’s relationship with her parents. Post-college life is the first time 20-somethings are forced to truly become independent. Most college students live in an artificial microcosm of partying and booze, yet still have the financial security and fallback of their parents. But just because you pay your own rent and utilities, doesn’t mean that you’re not still your parents’ child. Hannah struggles with her identity in regards to her mother and father — is she still their kid or an adult peer? A scene during last season's finale, which shows Hannah having an OCD recurrence and calling her parents for medical advice, really struck a chord. Recently, I had to go the hospital after getting into an accident. I handled the immediate situation solo, but the second I called my father and told him what happened I burst into tears and went back home to recuperate. I’m an adult, like Hannah, but also like her, I reverted to daddy’s little girl when confronted with something as serious as a medical emergency.

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Hannah and Marnie.
Just because you were BFFs in college, high school, or during childhood, doesn’t mean that the shared intimacy will last until the end of time (even if you got those half-heart necklaces). No matter how much effort you put in, friendships don’t always mature and morph at the same rate, pace, or direction as the individuals involved in the relationship. Living together can also fracture bonds in unforeseeable ways. Taking out the trash, doing dishes and paying bills are real-life responsibilities and no amount of dancing in your underwear to Robyn can make up for being late with the rent check. Even at 24, I’ve found that friendships require more work than they used to and seeing Hannah and Marnie tackle this too is comforting.

Nudity. Hannah’s unclothed body is like its own character on “Girls.” Dunham has received both positive and negative reactions for her many au naturel scenes, but because the show is based in reality and not Never-never land, the fact that she bares it all is awesome. I definitely don’t go as far as to soak in the bathtub with my buds, but I occasionally ask a friend to stay in the bathroom so we can gab while I'm in the shower. Dancing, changing and chilling with friends unclothed is also normal — as weird as it may seem. My closest friends know every beauty mark and blemish on my body.  

Love and dating. The show's romantic relationships are quite possibly the part of the show that accurately depicts young New Yorkers the best. There's Adam and Hannah’s bootycall-only/friendzone relationship that shifts to something more serious; Shoshanna falling for someone completely unexpected and unlike her; and Marnie and Charlie’s breakups and makeups, and it’s through these stories of love, like, and hate that viewers can truly connect. And, of course, let’s not leave out the one-night stands, sexting, selfies, and insecurities. With both Shoshanna and Marnie single this season I can’t wait to see the heartbroken pair put themselves out there — hopefully on Tinder

Cutting your own hair. Hannah was obviously not in her right mind when she did that, but I cut my own bangs all the time and have messed up on multiple occasions. I feel her pain.

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Doubting yourself every single second of every single day. Your 20s are supposed to be a time of identity exploration, carelessness and fun — but it doesn’t always feel that way. The girls of “Girls” struggle with their careers, boys, and friends on a near-constant basis, and the good times always seem to come with drama attached. (Remember when Hannah just tried to have a fun night out dancing and doing drugs with Elijah, but the night ended with her losing a roommate and almost ruining her relationship with Marnie?) Sometimes it’s hard to see beyond the day-to-day “struggles,” however I’m sure in hindsight that horrible haircut won’t matter as much you’d think.


Laird. While many people have creepy neighbors who do lots of drugs (mine does that while listening to the Grateful Dead 24/7), in New York everyone knows to keep them at a safe distance. I give the Dead Head a head-nod and a "hi" in the hallway because I’m a decent person, but I would never ask him for marijuana, let alone sleep with him. And who would want to run into a one-night stand everyday? That’s just awkward. A relationship with a guy like Laird that goes beyond exchanging niceties is just not worth it, no matter how much free Pom juice you could get.

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Sexy doctor Joshua. Hannah and new Brooklyn transplant doctor Joshua had one of the weirdest love affairs in TV history. While Wilson was a great addition (this show lacks man candy and he certainly inserted some) the characters’ affair was perplexing. People don’t meet in coffee shops anymore. I daydream about that cute guy sipping his macchiato in the café across from me striking up a conversation, but it simply doesn't happen. We're all too attached to our iPhones to even notice what’s in front of us. Like our soul mates. Sigh.

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Jessa. Jessa is so unique that there is only one such human like her in the universe and her name is Jemima Kirke (supposedly Lena Dunham based Jessa’s character entirely on Kirke herself). Nothing Jessa does fits the 20-something archetype — skipping an abortion appointment to make out with a stranger, bathing naked with her friend, recklessly causing a car crash, vanishing without a trace, getting married, buying a litter of puppies, and divorcing for a price. I have a free-spirited friend with an unlimited trust fund who also likes to call herself a citizen of the world, but at least she sends a text before taking off for Thailand.

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Dramatic displays of love and affection.
The romantic relationships (again, minus Jessa’s) are often realistic, but how some characters display their love is obviously dreamed up in the writer's room. When it comes to Adam waking up in the middle of the night to put up posters as a grand gesture to Hannah, or Marnie belting out a cover of Kanye West’s “Stronger” to serenade Charlie at his company party (cringe!), I'm here to tell you: Stuff like that Does. Not. Happen. Especially to cynical New Yorkers who laugh in the faces of love.

Photo: HBO

Shoshanna's hair. OK, seriously, no one would put a doughnut on their forehead like that. And as cool as fascinators are, only Kate Middleton can really pull one off. And she's a princess (OK, a duchess), so she can do whatever she wants.