Premiered April 15 at 10:30pm
HBO has always been a forward-thinking network, and while its dramas tend to be purposely grounded in the past, at least recently, its comedies are considerably more current. Its latest series is a far cry from a female version of “Entourage,” shirking themes of fame and promiscuity for a stark, realistic portrayal of the lives of several very different women bound by friendship. What the show has assembled, in addition to some extremely clever and witty writing, is a fabulous cast, led by its creator, Lena Dunham, whose hit indie film “Tiny Furniture” I never got the chance to see. Her character, Hannah, is purposefully unglamorous, and doesn’t exactly do a great job of defending her allegedly aimless life to her parents when they tell her that they’re cutting her off effective immediately. Her relationship with Adam defies explanation, and the height of awkwardness in their interactions is absolutely ridiculous in a very good way. Allison Williams is terrific as the Marnie, the most stable of the friends, and she seems like a strong anchor for the group. British import Jessa hasn’t yet been fully fleshed out, and I really look forward to seeing more of Zosia Mamet’s Shoshanna after hearing her yammer on to her cousin about nothing in particular, even referencing HBO’s own “Sex and the City,” a particularly meta moment. Mamet is great in her recurring role as Peggy’s friend Joyce on “Mad Men,” and I look forward to seeing what she does here. The characters’ alliterative names are fantastic, and I really look forward to seeing this show and its characters evolve. It’s definitely a show of the moment that, smartly, isn’t trying too hard to become an instant classic.
How will it work as a series? This is all about the characters, but that’s always the case with HBO series, and even though this one has less of a hook than most, that’s a positive thing since there’s so much territory to explore and no bounds in which it must be confined. The first season is only ten episodes, and I’m sure the show will cover an immense amount of territory during that time.
How long will it last? Though the ratings weren’t terribly high, this show got mostly excellent reviews, and HBO is going in a new direction with its comedies after cancelling half its comedic slate. I suspect that it’s just the kind of arthouse series in which the network will want to invest, so I’d expect a second season, though the timing may be in line with HBO’s usual tendencies of not feeling too rushed.
Pilot grade: B+