I have noticed that most of the TV series on HBO are pretty grim. Rotten people doing rotten things to each other. “Deadwood”? Check. “Game of Thrones”? Check. “Boardwalk Empire”? Check.
I’m one of those people who loved “The Wire”. Fans of “The Wire” are regarded as tiresome by some, but it was an excellent, well-crafted product. Writing is taken more seriously in TV than film, but with “The Wire” they took it to a higher level by getting middlebrow crime writers like Richard Price and George Pelecanos.
“The Sopranos” was a bit different. The genius of it was that it showed, but it didn’t tell. It showed you the behavior of these people, without making an overt value judgment or asking you to do so. You could identify with and condemn the gangsters as the moment struck you. But fundamentally, it took the pattern of the other shows as portraying human existence as filled with banal evil.
“Girls” seems to be a bit different. For some reason various people are obsessed with the show- Lion of the Blogosphere, the former Half Sigma being one, and it seems to get written up a lot on the SWPL websites like the Atlantic and Slate.
What all these shows demonstrate is the insecurity and enervation of the elite. These shows are all the favorites of educated, affluent people in the blue states. It shows they have a pretty grim view of life as an ugly, zero sum competition. “Girls” furthermore shows the frustration of the people who have education but haven’t gotten on the gravy train.
They don’t believe in themselves and their own bullshit, beyond putting up a blustery face. They still keep people in line, but the kind of arrogant pride in their belief system you saw in entertainment in the 70’s is long gone.