Before her hit television show “Girls”, Lena Dunham wrote, directed and starred in a feature that focused on a post-graduate girl living in New York City. Sound familiar? Starring her mother, Laurie Simmons, her sister, Grace Dunham, and selective cast members from her show, Jemima Kirke and Alex Karpovsky, “Tiny Furniture” became the unintentional prologue to “Girls”.
Aura (Lena Dunham) returns to New York City after graduating from university and breaking up with her boyfriend. While she readjusts to living at home, she realizes that her mother (Simmons) and sister (Grace Dunham) have moved on without her and seeks refuge with her childhood best friend, Charlotte (Kirke). Rediscovering New York’s charm, she meets an odd youtuber, Jed (Karpovsky), who makes her look at life differently and forget her university friendships.
“I just got off a plane from Ohio, I’m in a post-graduate delirium.”
The flick stays true to its theme of growing pains and rejection from the real world. After Aura finishes her four years, she contemplates whether she actually liked her program and if she will go anywhere in life. Being overshadowed by her successful mother and intelligent sister, Aura’s cry for help is seen in the questionable friendships and decisions she makes throughout “Tiny Furniture”. After her feature, Dunham began writing her hit HBO television show: portraying the semi-stable post-graduate state after four girls find jobs that are somewhat-related to their potential careers. The main character, Hannah (Dunham), is a struggling writer that goes from potential e-book author to ad-writer as she makes poor life decisions along the way. With her dysfunctional best friends, Marnie (Allison Williams), Jessa (Kirke), and Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet), Hannah appears as an older version of Aura with some grip on her life goals.
The similar premises and characters showcase Dunham’s writing, directing, and production skills for both her films and series. Being one of the few female showrunners in the industry, she has made a name for herself by writing what she knows and capturing it well on screen. Both stories resonate with audiences by displaying the “in between” period in a person’s life. Using the transition between university to work life as the main power struggle, Dunham addresses topics of relationships, dependency issues, and friendships in both pieces.
“Sometimes I just wish someone would tell me like, ‘This is how the rest of your life should look’.”
Appearing as a chapter before “Girls”, “Tiny Furniture” shows the confusing post-graduate period when failing to find jobs in your field of study and discovering your place in the world. The unsuccessful state of confusion causes Aura to make tenuous decisions before discovering how she can move forward from this awkward period. “Girls” continues the story by showing life after Hannah becomes independent, but is still determining what she will do with her life by making mistakes with her friends throughout their journey to adulthood. With her exceptional talents displayed on both screens, Lena Dunham has created and will continue to create quirky, coming of age tales that fit in her filmography all too well. It may not be a Wednesday night, but she is alive!