Girls IRL: MTV Visits New York (And Lives The HBO Life)
Experience the hit tv show in person...
TV show Girls may be long gone, but its meaning lives with us forever. Whether it’s Lena Dunham making big publicity no-nos or the impact the show made with its body-positivity, we miss it dearly.
Although the show wasn’t without its flaws (do you only hang out with white people, Lena?); its fantastic dialogue, ability to depict young women doing normal shit like eating and shouting at each other, meant Girls always felt like a step in the right direction.
As a young, female writer, then, it was only a matter of time before I went to live out my Girls dream in New York. No, I do not have a nice apartment in Greenpoint, nor do I have a large desire to be a young mother (sorry, spoilers). BUT, I did have a laptop, a healthy appetite and the energy of a spritely young 20-something (aka a large desire to nap).
I wanted to try out what it was like hanging about in New York, doing my best Hannah/Marnie/Shosh/Jessa impression. Just with less drama. And money.
THE AREA: “You are from New York, therefore you are just naturally interesting.”
What would Girls be without getting a full-fledged tour of their HQ, Brooklyn? I spent a large amount of time wandering around this area, dropping into record stores, eating, shopping at vintage stores, eating, going to a museum, eating and then settling down for dinner. To get the full scope of the area, I took a sidecar tour as part of Airbnb’s experiences, which meant I got to see the beautiful yet remote Red Hook, or the hipster hotspot of Dumbo, all whilst sitting down. The dream.
More importantly than surveying the area was, of course, visiting some of the actual locations in the show. My first stop? Ray’s coffee shop. Except, we don’t live in a fictional universe and in reality, Grumpy’s is filmed in a pizza place called Speedy Romeo’s in Brooklyn. If you don’t believe us, look carefully at some of the later episodes and you can even see the big “SR” sign on the wall.
So, instead of knocking back some joe and being insufferable, I went full New Yorker and ate our body weight in pizza. Alongside the St. Louis and Marinara pizza, I also shoved back a delicious Kale apple salad with autumn mozzarella (which was better than everything, maybe even the pizza).
SLEEPING: “I'm the laziest person I've ever met.”
Hannah once famously said, “I'm the laziest person I've ever met. Sometimes I just use my chest as a tray.” So when it comes to Girls, it was important - nay vital- that I found the right place to sleep. I spent three nights in the *incredible* William Vale hotel in Williamsburg - the real Girls epicentre - and managed to spot a famous DJ in the foyer, which obviously means it’s a cool place to hang.
Before my visit to New York, there was one episode I thought of frequently: “Panic in Central Park”. You know, the one where Marnie bumps into her ex-boyfriend Charlie and has wild night on the town, only to discover he’s a bit of a heroin addict. At one point in the iconic ep, Marnie goes into a high-end hotel with Charlie, all dressed up, and gets mistaken for an escort. Now, dear reader, before you get any ideas, I did not attempt this risky money-making technique. I did, however, spend a night at a high-end Manhattan hotel, SIXTY LES, drinking cocktails and imaging what would happen if I stood at the bar in a fancy dress.* There was also some filming taking place in a room next to us, which made the whole “AM I IN A TV SERIES OMG” feeling more acute.
On my final night, I got to experience one of the coolest hotels I’ve ever been to, and one that actually appears in the show. The Jane, a hotel originally built for sailors in 1908, is the location for Hannah’s nemesis Tally Schifrin’s book launch. With a room that looked over the river, and hotel staff dressed in early 20th Century bell boys, the whole experience was incredibly cool.
*Nothing. Because it is probably too nice a hotel for that.
EATING: “I’m 13 pounds overweight and it has been awful for me my entire life”
For a bunch of struggling 20-somethings, the women of Girls sure do eat out a lot. Luckily enough for me, I love nothing more than to order beyond my reasonable consumption habits and feel painfully full afterwards.
I decided to hit up Saxon + Parole, the site of a lunch date between Shoshona and Scott, when, erm, she decides to employ some interesting flirting techniques. Without going quite as ludicrous with my dinner date, we did manage to have some of the tastiest food we had in New York, and the atmosphere felt exactly like the kind of place “half the cast of the Good Wife” would be at. I got to try the truffle burrata, an incredible mushroom pate, and the Impossible Burger.
I also went to two other restaurants that feature in the show. One of those was Zio’s, the place where Hannah and her father have a “gay emergency”, and Elijah catches them crying through the window and walks straight past, because I mean, who really wants to deal with that shit? The food wasn’t anything to write home about but boy, the thumping pop tunes would have been fun were I not having dinner, quite jet lagged, on a Tuesday. Good call, Elijah.
On my final night, I dined at Hardings, a slightly fancier place where Elijah and Dill Harcourt go for drinks. Pretending I was on a date, I ordered some delicious cocktails along with the Atlantic Branzino, and some sort of pure joy in food form called a griddle cake. Americans can really nail desserts.
If I hadn’t eaten enough (I had), I went along to an Italian cookery class, at Eataly, an Italian superstore that has every piece of Italian food that exists under the sun (or something like this). I made pasta, drank wine, and felt *extremely* New York, baby.
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After the eating, extensive napping and hanging around Brooklyn, my Girls tour of New York was complete. Did I feel like I had grown as a writer? Probably not. Was I a little bit chubbier? Almost certainly. Would I leave my London life to go out and try and make it in the big apple, with only my parents to pay my rent (for a bit) and lots of terrible decision to make? Almost certainly.
Words: Ruby Lott-Lavigna