April 21, 2014

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Oberlin College students get a sneak peek of new HBO show ‘Girls’

Dunham

While the rest of the cable-watching world has to wait until Sunday to see the premiere of the HBO show “Girls,” Oberlin students got a free sneak preview of the new show on campus Thursday night.

“Girls” is a comedy featuring post-graduate 20-somethings living and working — unpaid interning — in New York City.

Though Oberlin College alumnus Lena Dunham wrote, directed and starred in the show, the premiere was nevertheless met with apprehension by some Oberlin students. After all, Dunham’s character in the show declares herself “the voice of her generation.”

“I was expecting something obnoxious, something trivial,” said Sasha Jones, a senior from Los Angeles.

“But I was actually able to take it seriously. I’m not sure it will hit home for a lot of people outside the liberal-arts-school demographic, but I think it was really effective in that particular vein.”

Alen Cisija, a senior from Westfield, Ind., agreed that the film accurately represented people he knew.

“The characters were really weird, but I think the sex lives and the jokes of the guys in the show were pretty standard. I thought it was hilarious, and represented the lives of Oberlin students well.”

Dunham, 25, has quickly risen to stardom after her first movie, “Tiny Furniture,” premiered in 2010 at South by Southwest, the annual multimedia festival in Austin, Texas.

Just months later, Dunham had been contacted by Judd Apatow, director of hit comedies “Knocked Up” and “The Forty-Year-Old Virgin” and was in talks to write and produce her own television show.

The pilot episode of “Girls” introduces Lena Dunham’s character, Hanna, and her three female friends as they negotiate bad job interviews, financially unsupportive parents and supremely awkward sexual encounters.

Some Oberlin College students considered how others outside the Oberlin community would feel about the show — namely, their mothers.

Unimpressed, was the consensus.

“I feel like she would just be bored,” said sophomore Max Cohn. “I thought the pilot was pretty strong, though, if you’re into that sort of thing — into just, girls whining.”

While Dunham was not on campus for the showing, HBO sponsored previews of the first two episodes of the series at Dunham’s alma mater as a part of a new outreach campaign to college students.

Most students expressed appreciation for the show, though many agreed that it might appeal to a very narrow demographic represented by the audience that attended the screening last night.

Cohn, from Manhattan, was unsure how the show would fare outside the Oberlin College arena.

“Honestly, I kind of feel like it’s just New York City-inside joke,” he said. “A kid grows up in the city, gets into a rural liberal arts school, comes back and doesn’t know what to do with themselves, and nobody knows what to do with them, either. Which isn’t actually true … but it kind of is.”

Still, there was more laughter than not last night, and enough applause to suggest a genuine appreciation for Dunham’s work, regardless whether the show lasts.

“Girls” premieres 10:30 p.m. Sunday on HBO.

Contact Emily Kennedy at 329-7155 or ekennedy@chroniclet.com.