‘Girls’ to End Next Year, But the Show’s Fantasy Brooklyn Will Live On


    We can’t even. The hit HBO series Girls will end after its sixth season in 2017, the network and creator Lena Dunham announced Wednesday. “It feels like the right time,” she said in a statement.

    From its first episode in 2012, the show brought a fictionalized slice of Brooklyn to living rooms across the country, reshaping the borough’s public image in the minds of average Americans. There’s no doubt that Girls contributed to the global rise of Brooklyn the Brand, even as it promoted the borough as a haven for entitled, lost millennials.

    The show follows the antics of four privileged-but-vulnerable friends, each navigating the peaks and valleys of being a 20-something living in the borough. The often-frivolous young women find and lose boyfriends and jobs, encountering memorable Brooklyn archetypes along the way.

    Much like Sex and the City did for Manhattan, Girls glamorized the image of Brooklyn by projecting the perspective of one white, indulgent community onto an area with a more diverse demographic reality. Would a more realistic, less glamorous portrait of Brooklyn have captured as many imaginations outside of the city?

    Lena Dunhams Girls

    A scene from Girls Season 1

    For viewers in the heartland, it might be easy to see the appeal of the world Dunham created for her characters — a world where the hardest part of a new job at Cafe Grumpy is not wearing a cute enough top and where India Street two-bedrooms are affordable for recent college grads with inconsistent employment.

    Who wouldn’t want to ditch their sleepy hometown for Greenpoint (or Bushwick) after seeing the cultured friends and edgy bars that surely await them in that hip land inhabited by the Girls, just across the East River, full of chic youth and retail opportunities.

    With two more years to go — Season 5 starts February 21 — the series’ legacy will live on in Girls-themed walking tours and, perhaps more important, Dunham’s depiction of Brooklyn.

    Lena Dunham 's Girls

    A scene from Girls Season 4

    “I had a lucky little girlhood,” Dunham says of growing up in a TriBeCa loft, the daughter of two renowned artists, in her memoir Not That Kind of Girl. Yet, while Dunham seems to get the joke (“A young woman tells what she’s ‘learned’,” the book’s subtitle reads, “learned” coyly in quotes), there are no hints to the hundreds of thousands either hate-watching or adoring the show that there is more to Brooklyn than this.

    True, a series on rent-controlled housing, landlord harassment, and how the other 99 percent are living would hardly make it to six seasons. Past hit shows like Welcome Back Kotter — that centered on the blue-collar toughness that not so long ago defined Brooklyn youth — no longer resonate. That show is about the past, not the borough’s future.

    So enjoy (or pleasurably loathe) the last two seasons, before its end frees up more room for other views of the borough, such as the more-realistic Broad Cityweb series like High Maintenance and The Bedford Stop, and others that are sure to come.

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