When I heard that creator and star of one of my all time favorite love-to-hate shows had written a memoir, I instantly knew I just had to have it. Not That Kind of Girl is a bestseller written by none other than the infamous love-to-hate Lena Dunham.
I’ve been a fan of her critically acclaimed HBO show Girls for about two years.However I could not for a single second tell you why I like it, and why I have watched each season over and over countless times. I just can’t. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a sucker for loving awful pieces of art, film and literature. You can give me a million reasons why it is bad, unoriginal, cheesy, un-ironic. I’ll love it regardless (classic examples include John Green books, the 2014 Quvenzhané Wallis adaption of Annie, The Twilight Saga, Taylor Swift, and pretty much every awful rom-com you can name).
But even an ironic love of the use of the word “Yolo” or Train’s Soul Sister in the end credits of a bad movie can’t really explain my affinity for Lena Dunham’s magnum opus. There’s just something addictive about loathing protagonist Hannah Horvath, and having your initial judgement on psychopathic characters turned on its head. Something comforting about watching other people mess up, maybe. The same kind of satisfaction we get from watching You’ve Been Framed or Impractical Jokers, except this time it’s more emotional mess ups, and the people aren’t real.
I absolutely deplore the protagonist of this show. No offense to Lena herself, who Hannah is reportedly modeled from, but I just wouldn’t be her friend. Nevertheless, that doesn’t stop me from obsessing over her life depicted on my screen for four seasons.Hannah is borderline psychotic, self-obsessed and I’m pretty sure some kind of nymphomaniac. But we all have our flaws.
As for Dunham herself, I’m ashamed to say I’ve become somewhat obsessed with her entire being. After buying her memoir and reading it in a few crazed, bloodthirsty gulps, I felt this connection with her that I have only felt for one other person in a book (Craig in Ned Vizzini’s It’s Kind of a Funny Story, if you were wondering, which you probably weren’t). Not because I’ve had any of the same experiences (I, for one, have never been curious about my infant sibling’s genitals, or had sex with a Republican) but just because of who she is. Lena, or at least how she comes across in writing, is simply a really messed up person, who is a bit more open about things than most. Which I definitely identify with.
Dunham has been described as “the voice of a generation” and “The thing. The absolute thing.” I’m not sure what generation we’re talking about as most millennial readers and watchers of her work seem more put off than anything, but to some she is that thing. I’m not saying she’s a good person, or that she’s a role model or any of the above. I’m not at liberty to say, I’ve heard some bad things, and I’ve heard interesting things. But, to me, this book might just be the first time I’ve really read something honest. Something truthful without a hidden agenda. Something relatable, yet completely entertaining.
While I struggle to define the clear point at which Dunham’s work, both on page and on screen, stops being an ironic cultural narrative and starts being just plain self-obsessed and weird, it still stays with me. It may be a complete modern masterpiece of which many don’t yet understand, and it could just be the ramblings of some millennial twenty-something who’s on too many prescription drugs.
Either way, Lena, from one messed up, brutally honest young woman to another, I salute you.