James Franco is about five years late to the Girls debate, but we’ll welcome his perspective because he’s written a well-argued piece for HuffPo that touches on several of the show’s controversies while still reminding us what’s important about it. Considering that our most recent stories on James involve him singing Selena Gomez songs in cornrows, it’s maybe not surprising that he’d have something relevant to say on the subject of TV shows about entitled twentysomething ladies in New York City.
See, even though he’s a 34-year-old actor who’s been working consistently since 1999, in the last few years James has proven himself to be quite the authority on the young female population. He’s currently shooting Spring Breakers with Selena and Pretty Little Liars star Ashley Benson; on-set videos and tweets show the cast all fooling around even though he’s the odd man out. And before that, he went back to college: He was enrolled at NYU and Columbia to get various MFAs and interacted with plenty of young ladies plagued with the same insecurities and mishaps as Hannah and her friends:
That leads me to my other connection with these young women just out of college: I’ve spent the last five or six years in classes with people like them. I’m not making any judgments about my ex-classmates — I’m sure many of them have plenty to say about an actor invading their M.F.A. bubbles — but I will say that many of the movies and stories they produced in those programs featured storylines that would have fit right in on Girls.
What most struck me in James’ essay is the perspective of an artist who became famous when he was about Hannah’s age, but who appreciated the need to actually work to make this nontraditional job happen. Maybe I’m giving him too much credit; obviously he’s not the first person to yell at Hannah to get a job. (That’s me every week, actually.) However, the context he invokes, of his gawky pre-fame days, shows that he was more ambitious than Hannah is with all of her support systems:
I’m not saying I have to struggle to pay the rent like Lena Dunham‘s character, Hannah, but there was a point, right before Judd cast me in Freaks and Geeks, when my parents cut me off because I wanted to go to acting school instead of UCLA. I worked at McDonalds, and my first suggestion to Hannah would be this: get a fucking job. If you really want to have experiences to write about, go to work; and if you really want to be an artist, take responsibility for yourself and wait some tables. You might mature a little in the process.
Who knew that Spring Breakers would lead to so much interesting commentary about young women and maturity in modern day? First with Selena and Ashley using the movie as an understated transition to more adult roles, and now as context for this essay. Keep ‘em coming!