January 26, 2014

TV for Thought: Looking … for Whom?

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Last weekend, HBO premiered Looking, a show that seems to be a gay man’s answer to Girls. It follows three friends, all of whom are gay, as they navigate their lives and relationships in the Bay area. They are all looking for fulfillment and happiness, as the title suggests, and yet, it is unclear as to what they are truly searching for. Granted, only one episode has aired at the time of this post being written, but the show still lacks a certain punch. It is real, but in the most mundane way. It is supposed to be a voice of the generation, or “a generation,” as Hannah would put it, which brings me to my ultimate point: Why must our 20-somethings, millennials or what have you, be defined so heavily, be told how to feel about themselves and be so damn self-reflective?

From articles in The New York Times to rampant Buzzfeed lists and countless other sources of media, the millennial never ceases to be prodded, examined and admonished in some covert way or another. Such fascination with how our generation thinks, eats and sleeps is slightly disconcerting. It makes me paranoid, for one. The excessive attention also renders the term useless and irritating. And I’m not the only one to be annoyed by this influx; some genius out there has made a Google Chrome extension that eliminates the word altogether, and changes it to “pesky whippersnapper.” As much as I love the change, I can’t help but think, “Why does this stand-in have to be so hipster-y?” But I digress.

The worst part of the overuse of “millennials,” is how it continually dismisses the nuances that exist across this generation. We’re disenfranchised, unemployed and self-obsessed — all descriptors that are based off our obsession with social media, along with factors we truly have no control over. This is why when others watch Girls or Looking, they quickly ascribe those characteristics to our generation, and then find ways to criticize it. I come back to Hannah’s point. She wants to be a voice of “a generation,” not the generation. Her generation is filled with middle-class white women making their lives in NYC. There will always be something that the rest of us can relate to, but Lena Dunham is choosing to showcase a small sector, pointing out one instance of nuance. Looking showcases the lives of white gay males in San Francisco as they search for something missing in their lives. They may not know what that necessarily means, per se, but there is an emptiness — a feeling that most of us can relate to, but are not necessarily defined by.