TV this week

The Israeli comedy show ‘Outside the Law’ and HBO’s ‘Girls’ enter their second season.

TV this week (photo credit: courtesy)
TV this week
(photo credit: courtesy)
America has adapted a number of Israeli TV series in recent years, but some shows are too idiosyncratically Israeli to cross over. That’s the case with Outside the Law, which starts its second season on HOT Comedy (it airs on Monday – Wednesday at 8:35 p.m. and is also available on HOT VOD). It’s basically a showcase for comedians to riff about different issues in a mockcourtroom setting. The judge is played by Ro’i Levy, and his courtroom reporter is Lucy (Lucy Aharish), an Israeli Arab, while the lawyers presenting their cases are stand-up comedians. The comedians include Roy Zabari and Yossi Gavni.
The problem here, though, is not the track records of the comedians involved but the fact that the show, which is in the format of a trial about an issue each week, is not very funny. The comedian lawyers plead their cases for and against such topics as porn, the Internet, and Mizrachi music, but the humor is superficial and forced. So we’ll have to wait for a more genuinely amusing show to come along.
The HBO series Girls, which has just begun its second season, is one of those shows you either love or hate, and how you feel about it will depend largely on your attitude towards its star and creator, Lena Dunham. She is very young and has created an alterego, Hannah Hawthorne, who is an awkward, outspoken, overweight, alternately insecure and egotistical young woman who wants a job, a boyfriend and a writing career in New York. But all she has is a group of friends with similar problems. What sets this show apart from so many others is the authentic bleakness with which it portrays life in post-financial crash America. The show, which premiered in the US in April, instantly generated an intense firestorm of controversy. Either it was the smartest, funniest new show in years, or it was the whining of a group of annoying over-privileged underachievers.
But no one can deny that the show made its mark on the zeitgeist immediately. When the series begins, Hannah is doing an internship that has lasted years but is never likely to lead to a paying job. Her friend Marnie (Allison Williams) is in a similar situation at an art gallery. Shoshana (Zosia Mamet, David Mamet’s daughter), a very quirky grad student, and Jessa (Jemima Kirke), a more assertive girl from England, are the other main characters. These may be four young women in New York, but their lives make Sex and the City look like a Club Med vacation. No one in this group lives in Manhattan or even thinks about it.
In the second season, Hannah has finally gotten over her crush on Adam (Adam Driver), a guy who will have sex with her if she shows up at his apartment. She transfers her affections to Sandy (Donald Glover), a young African American law student, but then Adam suddenly decides he needs her. Meanwhile, she picks a fight with the otherwise perfect Sandy because he happens to be a Republican. It all feels uncomfortably real.
People always like to say that the generations that come after them are less respectful, more spoiled and generally have it too easy. But no one who is honest can say that today’s young people have it too easy. When I was Hannah’s age, no one would have considered working as an intern indefinitely, apartments in Manhattan were pricy but not unattainable, and, let’s be honest, a lot more people had parents who could help out. For anyone interested in a career in journalism or the arts, there were dozens, perhaps hundreds, more places to work. So I can only tip my hat to Dunham for capturing this moment and becoming, as she tells her parents she hopes to be in the first episode, “the voice of my generation . .. or a voice of a generation.”
It’s HBO, so be prepared for nudity. Bonus points: Dunham visited Israel two years ago to promote her film Tiny Furniture at the Jerusalem Film Festival. Girls airs on YES OH on Fridays at 10 p.m., and you can jump right in without having seen all the previous episodes.