I am broke. Let me re-phrase that. I am so broke that the last time that I ate something that wasn’t dollar pizza was in December. I have a B.A. from a decent university, and I’m working at Urban Outfitters. I live in New York City, and the most exciting thing I did all week was clean my apartment and spend forty-five minutes on the phone with Rashida from Con-Edison trying to make my electricity bill disappear.
Here are the facts: 53% of college graduates are underemployed. And I’m pretty sure that 99% of my friends are part of that 53%. Okay, that last statistic was fake, but you get the idea. I have friends with Masters degrees who are too old to be covered by their folks’ insurance, but not employable enough to be able to pay for their own. I have friends who accept odd jobs–like being baristas or dishwashers or stocking shelves at department stores–that are completely irrelevant to their actual life goals. One of my friends is actually working as a PA on one of those ghost hunter shows. And I bet if a demon possesses her, her parents’ insurance won’t even cover it.
None of us are sure of where we want to be, but we know that we don’t want to be stuck in this limbo of Top Ramen and PBR. What we need is someone like Lena Dunham to be the voice of our generation. Although Dunham, 26, has a book deal in the works for $3.6 million, a successful television comedy/drama entitled Girls on HBO, and a few indie film scripts under her belt, the characters that she invents are painfully similar to the kids I know in Brooklyn, Waco, and Newbury Park. We’re a generation of young adults that are actually considering moving in with that creepy guy on Craigslist because we’re too laden down with student loan debt and bar tabs to live on our own. Dunham gets that. Which is why Girls and Tiny Furniture are so relatable.
Girls season 1 opens with Dunham’s character, Hannah Horvath, being told by her parents that they are no longer willing to “bankroll her groovy lifestyle.” Her internship lets her go when she asks for fulltime employment, and she spends the next season and a half struggling to maintain the random jobs she lands, like writing for a blog that insists she try cocaine in order to write the article. Her friends Marnie and Jessa are no better off—Marnie is fired from her job at an art gallery, and is told that the position of curator “doesn’t really exist anymore.” She is forced to don a “slutty Von Trapp child” uniform and work as a host at a restaurant, despite her previous job experience and degree in Art History. Jessa works as a nanny to make ends meet, and eventually marries a man she’s known for only a few days in order to keep herself financially afloat. (Not a bad idea—most of the guys I know are out-of-work Paul Varjak types.)
The characters in Girls are a mess, but at least they’re realistic. Forget sipping mimosas after waiting an hour for brunch like Carrie and Samantha in Sex & the City. Girls in their twenties aren’t out shopping for Manolo Blaniks, and they certainly aren’t lucky enough to make enough money to support their drinking habits by writing a weekly column. Hannah, Jessa, Marnie, and Shoshana are so fun to watch because they are nearly identical replicas of people we know in real life—including ourselves.
I want to be Lena Dunham. I want to be a voice for this generation of underemployed young adults that send copies of their well-edited resumes and cover letters to big corporations and independent companies and never hear a word in reply. I want to write stories and make sure that all of my best friends get famous. I want to live in Brooklyn and not be able to afford my morning bagel because I’m so dedicated to my art. I want to seek out $11 pitchers of beer and free hot dogs with my underpaid coworkers and laugh when we can’t afford to renew our Metro card next month. I want to plan meals around when I get my paycheck and eat off-brand cereal out of coffee cups in my shoebox apartment. And I don’t really need to afford new clothes or dental insurance, because I have good friends and I live in a city that I love.
That being said, if you want to buy me dinner next week, I won’t exactly complain about it.
Want to check out the soundtrack for the first two seasons of Girls ? Listen to it on Spotify! My absolute favorite track is “I Love It” by Icona Pop, Charli XCX from season 2.