In college we read the play Proof. In one of the early scenes there’s a bit where the main character’s sister suggests she use a particular shampoo.
The teacher said “it’s one of the great tricks of this playwright. You don’t know that hair is dead. You have no reason to be on Catherine’s side of this fight and yet instead of being on Claire’s team the entire audience is with Catherine, thinking her sister is an idiot.”
And that’s what I think of when people criticize HBO’ Girls and hate on Hannah Horvath. In season 5 there is a moment where Hannah goes away for the weekend with her mother and before bed her mother brushes her teeth.
“Hannah, aren’t you going to brush your teeth?”
“I’m a morning brusher. I go at it hard in the morning.”
Immediately you hate Hannah. And remember that you did exactly the same thing last night. And have a certain amount of internal conflict about those two facts co-existing.
That, to me is the beauty of the show. That is why it’s so cringe worthy. It’s why we hate it and simultaneously can’t look away. It’s what makes it a brilliant slice of the early 2010s instead of trite hipster trash (well, maybe they’re not mutually exclusive). That’s what it means when I say the show is smart. That’s what it means when I defend a completely indefensible character.