A girl is in her kitchen. She is hopeful, but ultimately unconcerned, that her t-shirt will cover her plump, round bottom. Her sister and mother seem overwhelmed by her return home. In her absence, they have fallen into a certain serene way of living that her late-nights, laziness and near-naked lower half seem to disrupt.
The scenario, while it sounds a lot like Lena Dunham’s film Tiny Furniture, is actually what moving back home was like for me. So when I saw the film version of my life while living it, I was agog.
A few years ago, Tiny Furniture was playing at an independent theater in Providence, Rhode Island, a twenty minute drive from my hometown. I hadn’t really heard much about the film, just a tagline that said something about a girl returning home and trying to figure out what to do with her life. Having just recently returned from an extended stay in Costa Rica, a trip that came on the heels of dropping out of college, I thought, I can relate. I googled the film and found out the young, unknown actress, Lena Dunham, had also written and directed the film. I was intrigued so my sister and I went to see it.
I am a critic. After watching movies I have a hard time answering the question, “Did you like it?” without responding about how liking a film is subjective before launching into opinions on cinematography, editing, acting, … At which point whoever I am talking to, even my father, calls me a snob (and maybe you will too). But, as the credits rolled, my sister asked whether or not I liked it, I replied emphatically, “I loved it!” To be fair, I think from a critical perspective the film is top notch as well.
It was a matter of relating, really. I, like the main character, Aura, was in a quarter-life crisis. We both told our mothers, repeatedly, that we were doing the best we could when we both knew that we were not. We were both being overshadowed by our younger sisters. Yet, as their elders, we tried to spit worldly knowledge which was only met with skepticism and ultimately scoffed at. We both refused to wear pants around the house as waist bands to even pajamas felt a little tight around our soft bellies. Aura and I were both delusional about sexual relationships. No, I have never had sex in a pipe on the street but I have hooked up against an abandoned brick building, which was interrupted, to my humiliation, by a group of bike cops.
Lena Dunham’s latest role is Hannah, and she is very similar to Aura of Tiny Furniture. Both characters are naïve, a bit self-deprecating, and clad in ill-fitting, often too-tight, thrift shop garb. However Hannah seems a bit more ambitious: she is attempting to live on her own in New York City, she is writing an e-book, and she is trying not to subject herself to any more sexual depravity. Whether she will succeed at any or all of these ventures is questionable.
Since meeting Lena/Aura I like to think that I have too become more like Lena’s new character than her first. I am attempting to live on my own in Boston, I am in a writing program at Emerson College and I am in a healthy, committed relationship. As to whether or not I will succeed at any or all of these ventures is questionable. So far, so good.
Whereas Aura, upon her arrival, was known only by those who frequented independent cinemas, Lena Dunham’s newest character is loved by everyone. Hannah, is the protagonist of the critically acclaimed HBO series, Girls, which she created, stars in, sometimes writes, sometimes directs. The series has made her a household name and an international success.
Lena has appeared on the cover of Interview, Rolling Stone, Entertainment, Fast Company, and New York Magazine. This month’s Playboy had an interview with Lena. She and her cast mates have been the subject of New Yorker cartoons. She has over 800,000 twitter followers and 357,000 followers on Instagram. Lena won two Golden Globes this year, beating Julia Louis Dreyfus, Amy Poehler, Tina Fey & Zooey Deschanel for Best Actress in a comedy series. She is being called the voice of my generation.
Season two of Girls wrapped up this Sunday and, like most fans, I will likely rewatch the series a few times before season three rolls around. But, more importantly, I will revisit Tiny Furniture, the film that first introduced me to Lena and to flawed, but relatable characters. I suggest you (re)watch it too.