From left to right, Nour El-Refai, Linnea Wikblad, and Johanna Koljonen on the set of TV Cirkeln, a program in which they chat about the HBO series "Girls". Photo: Brett Ascarelli / SR
tv series

Swedish girls on diversity and nudity in "Girls"

"We all know Hannah Horvath"
11 min

Swedish Television wraps up broadcasting the first season of the controversial American TV series, "Girls" Tuesday night.

Following every episode, public television airs "TV Cirkeln", a special Swedish discussion program that analyzes different aspects of the show.

Critic Johanna Koljonen, outspoken commedian Nour El-Refai, and broadcaster, Linnea Wikblad, the three women who discuss the show, are on the set of a cozy living room, preparing to tape.

"This hipster-Brooklyn lifestyle that the show portrays, you could just, like, take big parts of that, just plop it down into Stockholm, and it would be exactly the same," says critic Johanna Koljonen, who leads the discussion program.

The series under debate is about four young women in their twenties, who live in New York, and are trying to find themselves. The show is the brainchild of Lena Dunham, just 26, herself, who also stars as Hannah Horvath, a budding writer who hopes to be the voice of her generation.

"I think it would be very rare in Sweden to get this quality of craftsmanship in the writing for something that deals with topics this shallow," says Koljonen, referring to Ingmar Bergman-type angst that would merit the same level of quality.

The HBO series is about friendship, sex, and figuring out how to pay the rent. The show has sparked both acclaim for giving young women a voice. But it's also been controversial for the way it narrowly defines young women: as white and upper-middle class.

"I am really open to discuss television from a thousand points of view," says Linnea Wikblad, who's getting made-up, "but let's start with all these shows about the guys having a good time together in a white society in New York. Let's start there, and then I will happily talk about 'Girls'."

Johanna Koljonen adds, "These girls are in a very white bubble, and that is realistic, because a lot of people are."

Nour El-Refai appreciates the show for its humor, however, she does not feel it fully represents her:

"When it came to Sweden, it was already like, okay, this is the most f---ing awesome thing ever, and everybody can relate to... and this is just like what girls are... and it's not the way I am, and it's not the way my friends are, and that's why we can criticize this big love reaction."

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