TV review: “Girls”

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From the April 12, 2012 edition

Bringing Lena Dunham — writer/director/star of the heartfelt indie film “Tiny Furniture”— and Judd Apatow — writer/director/producer of numerous wonderfully brotastic flicks — together for HBO’s new series “Girls” seems like a pairing of polar opposites. But don’t forget that Apatow was the creator of earnest coming-of-age shows “Freaks and Geeks” and “Undeclared” before he made movies about getting laid and baby makin’.

Dunham, the show’s star, seems to be the biggest creative force behind “Girls” (Apatow and “Undeclared” scribe Jenni Konner are executive producers), and despite the fact that this series is clearly designed for those of the female persuasion, this dude’s dude is utterly infatuated with it.

Following four girls living in New York City, “Girls” will obviously draw comparisons to HBO’s biggest (non-Tony Soprano) hit, “Sex in the City.” The similarity is even referenced in the pilot, but there are no Manolo Blahniks and cosmos here. And it’s much, much better and smarter.

Hannah (Dunham) is a struggling writer — internships suck! — whose parents decide to cut her off, thus forcing her to make it on her own. Hannah leans on her Type-A best friend/roommate Marnie (Allison Williams) for support and advice, while resorting to a destructive relationship with creepy F-buddy Adam (Adam Driver) for comfort.

Hannah’s relationship with Adam occupies (at times tangentially) much of the plot of the first three episodes, and it provides some of the most uncomfortable sex scenes I’ve seen since, well, “Tiny Furniture.”

Hannah’s crappy relationship is interesting in a train-wreck sort of way, but the relationships among the four girls offer an impressive amount of heart and depth that truly carries the series.

Oh, and I forgot to mention how incredibly funny it is. The second episode, involving a trip to the women’s health clinic, is utterly fantastic, hilarious and dark, signaling “Girls” is not to be missed.