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May 16, 2012

HBO's Girls Gets Everyone Talking About Sex

By Michelle Reid

Over on the LACE Campaign blog, we've been talking about HBO show Girls and it's realistic approach to talking about HPV. But it's worth a second look on the That's So Sexy blog, because it's tackling so many sexual topics in engaging, realistic ways that are seldom seen on TV.

Girls (HBO)

Only five episodes into the series, Girls has already tackled STIs, condoms, abortion, fetishes, sexting, and a range of emotions and responses to sexual scenarios. Unlike it's predecessor, Sex and the City (another show about four female friends in New York), the sex is seldom glamorous or multi-orgasmic. Instead, it reflects the experiences of many young women who are figuring out their sexuality: uncertain, experimental, and sometimes disappointing.

In the show's second episode, the friends go to Planned Parenthood together for STI tests and, in one case, the termination of a pregnancy. Having characters deal frankly with the subject of abortion is seldom seen in TV pregnancies, where it is immediately dismissed if it is mentioned at all. As discussed on the LACE blog, the show also has central character Hanna receiving an HPV diagnosis, and the episode resolves on a note of acceptance: HPV is something that many women have, and is ultimately not something to be ashamed of. Lena Dunham, show creator and star, also challenges viewer notions about female bodies on TV through her character's frequent nudity, which is remarkable because she is much more like the typical woman than the typical supermodel.

Girls has gotten the media talking and thinking about young women's sexuality: their choices, experiences, feelings, and ultimately the diversity of their experiences. It rejects the stereotypes of female desire, instead diving into the complexity of sexual relationships and decisions. It doesn't reflect all experiences, and it isn't a perfect show, but it's a more accurate and honest portrayal of sex and relationships than TV has seen in a long time. Here's hoping it's the first of many!

Tag(s): That's So Sexy, Sexual Health

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Michelle is a freelance writer and anthropologist with a Master of Public Health from UBC. Her passions are promoting health and building community. She's worked in grassroots community organizations in Vancouver, Victoria and Oceania.
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