HBO’s Girls: Guilt, Jealousy, Losing Face and the Groovy Lifestyle

HBO’s Girls premiered last Sunday and already, there’s a lot of criticism, ranging from the usual “lack of diversity” to the whole idea that having one’s parents support them well after they’re 18 not being “realistic.”  Sure, this is the case for many, but one also can’t say that it’s UNREALISTIC to be an adult and still get at least some family support (ranging from money to  living at home rent free).  Especially not for 20-somethings living in an expensive city like New York (or even Toronto) in a difficult job market. And getting support isn’t all that unique only to the millennial generation.  I think that it just seems like more millennials are getting support due to press, the current economic situation AND perhaps because parents feel guilty about not being around much when the millennials were younger (and that final point is a very big MAYBE).  There are also reasons why some aren’t getting any job they can find.

Preview of the second episode

I feel that haters of the show fall in one of two categories.  Those who are jealous of young people in this kind of situation are apparently living and those who feel guilty or embarrassed by the very fact that they are.  I know the latter well.  These people don’t talk much about their families and situation to those around them and often pretend to be broke, yet they are probably getting at least a few hundred dollars a month from their parents to help cover the rent.  As for those who’re jealous, just admit it rather than going around saying that it’s “not realistic.”  What’s “real” is relative.  At least they’re not living with their parents (which I think is worse unless the parents don’t care/pretend not to care about what they do).

As for not getting a job at, say, McDonald’s, I think losing face, despite not explicitly part of western culture, plays a role.  That’s probably why many would rather have an unpaid/very low paying office position while mooching off family than work at a fast food joint. It’s about “looking good” to your peers and maybe family (other than mom and dad) since it’s all about WHERE you’re working (i.e. NOT McDonald’s – though being a barista at Starbucks or the more preferred indie cafe might be okay).  But that could just be the Chinese influence in me thinking.

Have you seen the show?  What are your thoughts?  Do you think it’s jealousy?  And if you’re an adult still getting help from your parents, are you guilty/embarrassed about it?

About Cynthia Cheng Mintz

Cynthia Cheng Mintz is the founder and webitor-in-chief of this site and the petite-focused site, Shorty Stories. She has also written for other publications including the Toronto Star and has blogged for The Huffington Post. Her first novel, Aspirations, was published in 2007. Outside of writing, Cynthia researches and advises philanthropic ideas for family funds and foundations and also volunteers.

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  • chichichic

    I haven't' seen the show so I can't comment on that, but perhaps it isn't just jealousy…. Perhaps the show is coming off as unsympathetic…. maybe it's difficult to relate to characters like that for some people, thus making it difficult to care… this could be conceived as jealousy. Again, haven't seen the show, but I'm sure there's a broader range of reasons apart from "jealousy" and "embarrassment"… just my two cents… 😉

  • Jennifer

    I love this show. I am 10 years older than the girls portrayed, but there an honesty I identify with on the show. I never had to get a job until i graduated from college. I stayed in my small college town and got an apartment. I used the money that was in my bank account from my dad until I got a job a few months later. I physically went door to door with resumes with nothing but a cute face and no experience behind me. I appiled for a job 30 min in the next large town that i saw in the newspaper. I got the job and paid my bills and rent on my own from then on. On occasion, my dad would call and ask if i needed some cash. I usually said no because i was living within my means. I think i asked for some money for work clothes and some at Christmas to buy gifts. My dad paid for my college, i had a cell phone and credit card and vehicle he paid for until i was in my late 20's and married. He did the same for my 2 sisters. People think i'm spoiled. I know i am fortunate and i'm well aware that not everyone's life can be the same as mine. My dad works hard and is generous to his family, his families family and even to people he doesn't even know. My mom always told us he does it because he didn't want us to struggle like they did as young people. He thinks you should do better for your family than your family did for you. I have to hide that side of my life sometimes because i have been judged and lashed out at by others when they find out. They think they know me and assume i have had no problems or personal struggles because there was cash in the bank. I can tell you that not having to worry about money changes the focus of survival onto other darker things and brings on a host of other problems. othen think i should feel ashamed for what I have been given. I think i live within my means. Just because my means aren't the same as someone else's doesn't mean i'm a bad person or a good person for that matter. I
    provide for my family and when i see someone i know who is struggling I help them anyway i can. That's the
    way I was taught. You can be jealous of me if you want to or you can learn that giving can come back to you 10 fold.

    • I agree with you on the shame part. I also know people who go as far as "fake" being poor (while at the same time, still getting help from family (e.g. having their phone (partially) paid for).

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