My Ins and Outs Predictions For 2023
Note: Some of these are more of manifestations.
In: A critical rewatch of HBO’s Girls
Did you know that Lena Dunham’s mother—Laurie Simmons—makes a cameo as herself on Gossip Girl? She’s the photographer in the episode about the Van Der Woodsen slash Humphrey family photo and all the drama it causes and also Steven Baldwin is there for some reason. Simmons is best known as a member of the Pictures Generation (the names of her peers, Cindy Sherman and Barbara Krueger may be better known) and rose to fame for her photographs set inside dollhouses. This explains two things: the title of Dunham’s directorial debut, Tiny Furniture, and how a 25-year-old Oberlin grad landed her own semi-autobiographical HBO show. The nepo vein runs deep through throughout the program; of her three co-Girls, one is the child of writer David Mamet (Glenngary Glen Ross, The Postman Always Rings Twice), another is the child of the Brian Williams, and the last has nine different immediate relatives with Wikipedia pages.
Girls begins with 24-year-old Hannah Horvath’s parents announcing they will no longer financially support her as she lives in Brooklyn and works an unpaid internship. Hannah’s protesting sets the stage for the next six seasons: she will incessantly whine, demand the energy of the people around her, and delude herself into thinking that she is truly, uniquely special that her deranged and mentally ill behavior is just the cost of her genius. A lot of the great things about Girls are the same great things about Sex and the City: these insufferable, entitled characters are surprisingly honest depictions of real people. For SATC, I’d say this is about 40-60% intentional, for Girls it’s closer to 80%. (Hannah’s breakup with a Black Republican played by Donald Glover is a highlight of the show; knowing Glover improvised much of his dialogue adds an extra sting to his tirade against Hannah-as-The-White-Liberal). The episode where the titular Girls visit the Hamptons may well be one of the best episodes of 21st-century television.
Girls is far from perfect—Dunham’s constant nudity seems more for her own gratification than any project of empowerment; the finale is totally unnecessary; many moments on the show meant to be sympathetic fall flat. Dunham herself is not without her own controversies, both merited and unmerited. Her essay on Japan is shockingly orientalist, she defended a fellow Girls writer against rape allegations despite “having no exonerating evidence”, there is a long list of embarrassing and uncouth things she has said. I think these things further characterize Girls, giving us a valuable look at ourselves and the generation of culture makers gaining higher and higher footing in the culture industry.
Out: 1980s Nostalgia
Sooooooo boring. Sooooo overdone. 80s nostalgia is beyond tired, especially when we live in such a Reaganified and Thatcherite world. The fashion was boring without being classic. The music was overproduced and over-commercialized. Only the films of the 1980s really stand out, but this is marred by the horrible contemporary films set in the 1980s that all look the same with their neon signage and side ponytails. Spare me!
In: 1890s-style Dandyism
On the other hand, we’re overdue for a true Gilded Age revival. Perhaps the best fashion era for menswear, with stiff, high collars and fantastically elevated trousers. There’s no reason for us to not be emulating the lush aesthetic decadence of Oscar Wilde: velvets, vintage mirrors, Gimlets, Martinis, laying on couches and drunkenly fighting with your friends about art and sex and love. Take the Amtrak across America. Invest in jewel tones. Revelry doesn’t have to be exclusive to railroad barons: at your next social gathering, swap pizza and vodka sodas for olives and vodka sodas… with herbal garnishes. Thrift some vintage glasswear from Salvation Army. Wear a dress with a neckline so high it touches your chin. Live a little!