JEN­NIFER GAN­NON

Lena Dun­ham’s ‘Girls’ rad­i­cally al­tered the per­cep­tion of young women on TV, and now ‘Girl­boss’ gives us a ter­ri­fy­ing new archetype for our times: the manic pixie cap­i­tal­ist

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Yes, they were a par­tic­u­lar type of girl – white and priv­i­leged – but, even if it was an im­per­fect por­trait, ‘Girls’ was an en­dear­ing look at a unique time of navel gaz­ing and short­er­all-wear­ing salad days

Be­ing branded a mil­len­nial th­ese days is noth­ing short of slan­der. Who would want to be as­so­ci­ated with those self-ob­sessed, Snapchat­ting sim­ple­tons, who can barely be both­ered to lift a mid­dle fin­ger to flip the bird at any pass­ing oldies? Telly mil­len­ni­als are of­ten at the root of this de­mon­i­sa­tion. Where once there were only the kids from Fame or the snot-en­crusted Grange Hill pupils for adults to be miffed at, now TV is filled with a myr­iad of zy­gotes de­mand­ing at­ten­tion.

Lena Dun­ham’s Girls, which has just fin­ished its fi­nal sea­son, rad­i­cally al­tered the per­cep­tion of young women on TV. “Here be girls!” it screamed, warts, other STDs, UTIs and all. They were ev­ery inch as mad­den­ing as their male coun­ter­parts, com­plex, of­ten un­lik­able and ut­terly en­gag­ing. Yes, they were a par­tic­u­lar type of girl – white and priv­i­leged – but, even if it was an im­per­fect por­trait, Girls was an en­dear­ing look at a unique time of navel gaz­ing and short­er­all-wear­ing salad days.

Which is why it was crush­ingly dis­ap­point­ing that, for all its chal­leng­ing, con­tem­po­rary themes, Girls ended on a con­ven­tional note, with Han­nah cop­ing with her role as a mother. Gone were her artis­tic chal­lenges, re­placed in the fi­nal episode by the strug­gles of moth­er­hood. For six years Dun­ham’s char­ac­ter was shown grap­pling with the writ­ing world and her de­sire to be a voice of her gen­er­a­tion. Ful­filled by work, she re­lied on her ta­lent af­ter nu­mer­ous per­sonal fail­ures. Dun­ham and Judd Apa­tow, her ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer, cu­ri­ously chose to end a show that once cel­e­brated the lim­it­less free­doms of a vi­brant modern girl with the full stop of a baby’s cry.

Girls ended with youth be­ing wasted on the young, but adult­hood is “where dreams go to die”, ac­cord­ing to Girl­boss, a brash Net­flix sit­com writ­ten by

Pitch Per­fect’s Kay Can­non. It’s a fic­tion­alised ac­count of the rise of Sophia Amoruso, the Nasty Gal Vin­tage founder, who made San Fran­cisco her bitch by sell­ing se­cond-hand clothes – which is just as aw­ful as it sounds. Be­neath the sting­ing nar­cis­sism of Girls you could al­ways find some mild em­pa­thy for the char­ac­ters; it of­fered the op­por­tu­nity to cringe, recog­nis­ing the brat within your­self. The Sophia of

Girl­boss pro­vides none of th­ese mo­ments of il­lu­mi­na­tion, be­cause she is, to quote so­cial-me­dia par­lance, THE WORST.

With its em­pha­sis on suc­cess at any cost, Girl­boss has cre­ated a dis­gust­ing hy­brid: the manic pixie cap­i­tal­ist. She is Pa­trick Bate­man in plat­form boots, Ivanka Trump in Zooey Deschanel cloth­ing. Sophia Mar­lowe is tor­tu­ously an­noy­ing,with her plot-de­vice neu­ro­sis and her non­sen­si­cal tantrums. She’s not scrappy and de­ter­mined, she’s grabby and ob­nox­ious, rou­tinely ig­nor­ing friends, fam­ily, health and even RuPaul to achieve her goal of be­ing a mind­less mogul. When she’s not forc­ing her box-headed boyfriend to have sex on a mat­tress full of money she’s call­ing her would-be cus­tomers idiots.

Fash­ion is sup­posed to be her pas­sion, but by the end of the first episode she cal­lously dupes a lo­cal vin­tage-clothes seller and sells the jacket that was her en­light­en­ing tal­is­man. Sophia acts as if the world should bow down be­fore her for shilling skirts on eBay with such breath­tak­ing en­ti­tle­ment that it would make even a Jen­ner girl blush. Bear G ry ll s’ s and po sh peo­ple’ s re­al­i­tytelly Re­al­ity telly has al­ways been the bas­tion of youth, but even its tide is turn­ing. There was a time in its his­tory when peo­ple were only sent off to an is­land in the hope of cre­at­ing Big Brother by the sea. Th­ese were the days of shows like the hang­over life raft Ship­wrecked and the orig­i­nal

Celebrity Love Is­land. The ex­per­i­ment was to cram a sandy nook in the South Pa­cific full of im­pos­si­bly tanned and toothy young peo­ple, ply them with booze, and try to re­pop­u­late telly with a race of blank-faced su­perba­bies. Fail­ing that, the shows should at least be some- thing akin to Lord of the Flies but with the empty sex­i­ness of

Hollyoaks, where the sun-bleached wannabes tipped Moët from the conch while de­vour­ing each other on the shore like dy­ing jel­ly­fish.

Now viewers ap­par­ently want more from th­ese shows, not just Rob from Da­gen­ham learn­ing to use a palm frond as makeshift loo roll. As with all “life­style” shows – aka posh peo­ple’s re­al­ity telly – there has to be a skill to ac­com­plish or a te­dious emo­tional “jour­ney” to com­plete, which is why we’re in an era when the jumped-up scout leader Bear Grylls cre­ates shows where sup­posed un-fame-hun­gry in­di­vid­u­als glee­fully take part in their own pun­ish­ment to “chal­lenge” them­selves.

It’s sea­son four of his self-flag­el­la­tion sur­vival show, The Is­land with Bear Grylls (Chan­nel 4, Mon­day, 9pm), and Grylls’s zeit­geisty new twist is to pitch a group of mil­len­ni­als against a group of baby­boomers in a bit­ter bat­tle to see if age or youth will brave the el­e­ments best. It’s a fight to the death or un­til some­one is sent off in a speed­boat gur­gling with se­vere de­hy­dra­tion.

The young folk (Club 18-30) did not get off to a great start, squab­bling about which di­rec­tion to take to find their base as if they were sur­fac­ing from the rave in the woods and try­ing to get back to their tents at Elec­tric Pic­nic. They were mar­shalled by Ben Cooper, a sen­tient foot­ball jer­sey, the type of ruddy-faced ir­ri­tant who be­lieves Kasabian are “real” mu­sic and thinks bel­low­ing “Oi oi!” into a woman’s face is a form of mat­ing cry.

An­noy­ingly, af­ter a se­ries of strops di­rected at the youngest camp mem­ber, Frankie, and with their am­ber wee sig­nalling a scary amount of time with­out fresh wa­ter, Ben man­aged to cre­ate the nec­es­sary fire. His un­war­ranted con­fi­dence now has an ex­tra god­like sheen. A coup must take place, but it might not come from in­side the cam­era-hog­ging kids’ camp.

The most se­nior con­tes­tant, 66-year-old Frank, de­scribes him­self as an en­thu­si­as­tic in­dus­tri­al­ist (which also could have been said about the se­rial killer from the Saw fran­chise). He spends most of the first episode throw­ing him­self around like a sex­a­ge­nar­ian Ross Kemp, a whirl­wind of re­al­ity-show mas­tery.

Im­me­di­ately run­ning off to find a place to set up camp be­fore the oth­ers have even fin­ished in­tro­duc­ing them­selves, Frank then con­jures up a fire. He builds beds from branches, su­per­vises the cook­ing of a limpet broth, and rounds off the evening by de­mon­i­cally howling Dion’s The

Wan­derer into the dark­ness in his shorts like some­thing from a trop­i­cal Twin Peaks.

It’s highly likely that Frank will go full Col Kurtz be­fore the end of the se­ries. Don’t be sur­prised if he ends up hol­low­ing out his younger camp­mates to use as ca­noes.

Pixie cap­tial­ist: Britt Robert­son as Sophia Amoruso in Net­flix’s Girl­boss, Be­low: Han­nah (Lena Dun­ham) in the Girls se­ries fi­nale

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