“Girls,” and me: I was a 20-something New York City resident, too, and it changed my life.
photo compilation: Vulture

THE FINEST season was the last for “Girls.” The writing was never better, and the finale felt real, memorable, and worthy of contemplation.

“Girls” became an important series, because it never worried about fitting in.

There is no more powerful statement for a feminist.

Ross Douthat today should be read, because one man’s view, in this case, proves the power of what Lena Dunham and Judd Apatow created.

But it was the equal of the prestige dramas and superior to “Friends” and “Sex and the City” as a scripted-acted-shot achievement, and reliably funnier (in a wince-inducing way) than any of them. And as a mirror held up to American culture, it showed something very different than its prestige-TV peers, something equally important and arguably more forward-looking and distinctive.

… From the beginning, the unattractiveness of their behavior inspired some queasy responses to the show from liberal and feminist critics, and some celebratory rejoinders about how the freedom to make a mess — sexually and otherwise — is the central freedom that feminism sought to win.

Brilliant observation from a man in an op-ed that has many of them.

Contemplating Girls, for me, begins with ruminating on Sex and the City.

When I was in my twenties, I hit New York City to find my way, and explore my creative aspirations, landing on Broadway. A single woman, living with a man, trying to stay employed, keep a roof over my head, and figure out where I was going.

In my memoir, The Sexual Education of a Beauty Queen (Padaro Press, 2014), while excavating culture and its impact on women, I wrote about Girls.

In the second episode of Girls, Lena Dunham’s character, Hannah Horwath, shares a modern-day trauma for most sexually active females at one time or another in our lives. Why, she’s going to get an STD test. That’s preceded by an afternoon of Googling what the possibilities are of a condom not protecting her during sex, not to mention discussing the horror of the scary stuff found around the condom’s rim, all the while inspecting her vagina. “…And then when they pull out, it’s fucking mayhem. I’ve been diagramming it in my head all afternoon. And no one speaks about this,” Hannah shrieks.

The Catholic League will need something strong for this HBO show, and it’s only a matter of time before Bill O’Reilly’s head explodes.

But this is the ultimate gift for women who watch.

It’s identity combat.

One of my first photo shoots in New York City.
photo: copyright TM, LLC

In the doctor’s office for her exam, later in the same episode, Hannah just starts babbling. Hannah’s response to the pelvic exam begins where we all did way back when: “Ow.”

“Is that painful?” asks the doctor.

“Yeah, but only in the way it’s supposed to be,” Hannah responds.

It’s the twenty-first century version of, “Only a man could have come up with the idea of stirrups and that cold steel vagina scoop” – the ultimate Girls joke.

If the HBO show does one thing, I only hope it can energize the usage of the word girls for us all, no matter our age. Because it has become clear to me the older I get that deep inside me that thing that keeps me going no matter what comes is my very girl-ness. The energy at my core that doesn’t change, no matter the life assaults and the injurious physical indignities that begin once you’re out of your twenties, which isn’t my womanness, but the unflagging force of my inner, raging GIRL.

Lena Dunham’s writing for her character is one thing, but her presence as a brilliant, average girl with anything but a Victoria’s Secret-model image is especially stirring.

Seeing a common thread through “Girls” and “Sex and the City,” as a woman in my twenties in New York City, there were wins, horrific defeats, even humiliations, which led to a creative epiphany that changed my life forever.

Such is the life of a GIRL.