Girls And The New Narcissism

Stephen Marche investigates:

This month, The Carrie Diaries relaunches the Sex and the City franchise while Girls starts up its second season. The contrast is stark: In the old narcissism, we have dumb, beautiful moneyed people trying to become more beautiful and more moneyed. In the new narcissism, we have smart, unattractive poor people trying to confront their pervasive, intense self-obsession. All of the best shows on television, the most urgent, most relevant pop culture of the moment — Louie, Community, the upcoming season of Arrested Development — reflect us as we are: narcissists in search of a cure from ourselves.

[Girls] really is legitimately the marker of a generational turn.

There were women like the women on Girls fifteen years ago. I remember them. They had graduated from the Ivy Leagues, they didn't have good jobs right away, and they were so obsessed with the drama of their own potential that they forgot to do anything. They were writers who talked about what it meant for them to be writers rather than paragraph structure. The brilliance of Lena Dunham — or one of them anyway — is that she's aware of this self-induced crisis. In one of the final scenes of last season's Girls, her boyfriend screams at her, "You love yourself so much," and then gets hit by a truck because he's not paying attention to the world around him. Exactly. She has been self-aware enough to pass through narcissism, at least partially.