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Girls is one of the most honest shows on TV at the same time as it is one of the most mysterious. The mystery pertains to the motive behind the show’s honesty. The show’s creator, Lena Dunham, has said that she is most interested in art that is “really confessional,” and there is no question that Girls sometimes consists of little more than a (very colorful) mosaic of confessions: of unsatisfying or demeaning sex, of narcissism, self-indulgence and self-pity, of parental dependency, cowardice at work, and an inability to control one’s appetites. But confessional art (think Proust, or Woody Allen) often begs a question: What is the artist really confessing, beneath or behind all of her (explicit) confessions? I’m not sure, after three episodes, what Dunham is really trying to confess in Girls, although I suspect it has something to do with a feeling of helplessness so paralyzing that “confession” itself becomes one’s primary response to life’s difficulties. Part of what makes the show so refreshing is that the characters are not afraid to confess things a previous generation of “girls” might have found blasphemous—including their frequent feelings of helplessness. On the other hand, Dunham’s addiction to confession can sometimes feel like an index of that helplessness; during episode three, her character Hannah trades her “baggage”—with friends, former and current “boyfriends,” and finally her Twitter followers—literally all day long. This is during the time she’s supposed to be looking for a job. Of course, the actress who plays Hannah already has her generation’s most sought after job: she confesses for a living.

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