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A Deconstruction of the relatable in Girls. "A young woman tells you what she's 'learned'"
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Year: 2016 Publisher: Leuven KU Leuven. Faculteit Letteren

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When a TV show claims to represent the trials and tribulations of my twenty-something life such as an unhealthy relationship with finances, cupcakes and a quarter-life existential crisis without me even needing to tell family and friends what they already know, I feel represented. Successful TV shows establish a connection with their viewer that leads to mutual investment and emotional capital. With Girls (2012), a sense of connection and being able to relate has been a crucial factor in how it established its audience. Girls validates by both trivial and monumental issues such as if you should pull off wearing red and pink together or how do you find a lucrative but fulfilling career. Yet, this has equally proved to be the greatest criticism as all audience expectations are not met to satisfaction as per these claims. Three major factors which this thesis attributes to the problem field are archetypes beyond the reach of the audience, the influence of creator Lena Dunham in interrupting the fictional connection between audience and Girls and the controversial usage of body image. Whether it is a look at friendship dynamics with their frivolities or existential crises about career paths, Girls offered an insight into a microcosm of twenty-somethings in the millennial generation. There was seemingly an archetype to represent the average viewer. However, the issue plaguing the relatable quality of Girls is the subsequent responsibility to cater to the “everygirl”. Indeed, these lines of fiction and reality were blurred even further by the influence of its creator, Lena Dunham. Dunham was herself the very audience she sought to represent which led to convolution of product and producer, the latter successful while the former plagued by narrative setbacks. The themes of representation and identification were hindered by this relatable construction and the blurring of reality and fiction. In this thesis, the methodology includes a marketing, psychology and feminist studies approach. A marketing case study of DOVE® will be used to illustrate how more relatable average bodies help promote a connection between product and consumer but dallying with the notion of representing all can serve to a backlash. For instance, the brave portrayal of average bodies, warts and all, can lead to troubling rejection should their domain tread into critique and moralising of. Thus, this thesis aims to deconstruct the relatable with an examination of the lines running through the fiction and reality.


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