You Are Already Irritated With the ‘Brooklyn Girl’


If you’re hoping the Brooklynification of irritating lady stereotypes is merely a passing fad, I’ve got some bad news: The Brooklyn Girl is A Thing now, like “I’M SUCH A CARRIE!” was A Thing 5 years ago.

And it’s going to be this way until another Thing comes along to hoist the mantle of terrible, and then that Thing will be the means of conveyance for characters that evolve into irksome tropes until another Thing comes along, etc, forever. Think of selling the youths crap as a really obnoxious game of tag that old people don’t understand.

Meet Brooklyn Girls, a new series of books that aspires to be the next Sex and the City (now with drug-resistent gonorrhea!). The books — which basically reimagines the show Girls with the cast replaced by a characters who make you feel like you just swallowed a mouthful of frosting — star a quartette of twentysomething female insufferables residing in Brooklyn, The City’s hottest borough and endless source of New York Times slow news week trendpieces. According to New York Magazine, the series’ protagonist Pia is “a party girl who gets fired from her PR job after topless photos appear on Facebook and then launches a pink food truck called SkinnyWheels.” Pia’s not pirouetting alone in pop culture; there’s another book coming out about a Brooklyn-based girl named Iris who describes her “black outs” as “pink outs.” All the kidults in the house wave your hands in the air like you just don’t care! Pia and company aren’t misplaced non sequiturs; they may be part of a concerted effort (nay, CONSPIRACY) to turn the idea of Brooklyn, and more specifically The Brooklyn Girl into the sort of idealized wealthy trendslave archetype the Sex and the City films sold to middle America. NYMag’s Yael Kohen explains,

Ten years ago the book would have been set in the Lower East Side. Twenty years ago, the Upper East Side. But here we are, with a post-sorority heroine (whose author no doubts hopes will prove to be a lucrative cash cow) situated comfortably just over the bridge — and she just might be as clear a signal as any that the Brooklyn Girl, promulgated and embodied by Dunham, has taken on commercial appeal.

These Brooklyn Girls just adorably cannot get their shit together! They’re so charmingly unable to handle adulthood! Is she vomiting in some bushes again? Did she give her credit card to her cocaine dealer? Awwwww! Now here’s the part where I flirt with self-righteousness while trying to convey sincerity: this makes me feel a special sort of proprietary crankiness, since I live in Brooklyn and while I’m currently wearing a muscle tee shirt depicting Abraham Lincoln holding a cat on his lap and using an unpacked box of books as a place to put my apple core, I’m satisfied with my career and my personal life. And, as Kohen points out, there are plenty of fulfilled, successful women in Brooklyn, who want to be here. We’re not all free spirited dog tattooists wearing underwear made of safety pins. Some of us have 401(k)’s from when they used to work at Merrill Lynch and cried every day after work, okay?! Where Kohen loses me, however, is when she cites further evidence for the Brooklyn Girl saturation of pop culture,

We’ve read her ruminations on HelloGiggles, and we’ve watched her West Coast dopplegänger in Portlandia, which might as well be Brooklyn. We’ve seen her in the self-help blog-turned-book-turned-soon-to-be-tv-pilot Adulting: How to Become a Grown-Up in 468 Easy(ish) steps(produced by JJ Abrams). And as far as mass culture is concerned, we’ve seen shades of the same girl bubbling up on the major networks: In Fox’s New Girl, and CBS’s Two Broke Girls. The former is set in generic hipsterville USA (uh, Los Angeles) that also might as well be Brooklyn..

Listen, I see the common threads between the listed characters, but why do those shared traits make them Brooklyn? New York, I love you, but you didn’t invent exposed brick walls. Nor do any of these examples sound anything like imaginary Pia in Cobble Hill careening her eating disordered food truck around the nannies pushing double Maclaren strollers. HelloGiggles is a West Coast joint. Portland was doing Portland long before Brooklyn was doing Brooklyn(TM). And Los Angeles will never be Brooklyn. Yes, Girls is an excellent, popular show that will likely be quoted by women who are in college now with the same fluency that Sex & The City and The Sweetest Thing (I stand by my opinion that this was a grossly underrated film) was quoted by my friends and me when we were in college a decade ago, but it’s not there yet. And further, Brooklyn doesn’t own half of the trends that Kohen claims it does. If all hipster party girls were Brooklyn-based, then where are they supposed to have beach bonfires while wearing Native American headdresses, huh? Not the fucking Rockaways, tell you what.

Brooklyn didn’t invent the Brooklyn Girl, the coincidence of socioeconomic conditions in 2013 America did. But that hasn’t prevented slapping the “BROOKLYN” label on every pop culture depiction of young urban women whose silly hedonism gets in the way of their success. I can’t be entirely mad at the Brooklyn Girl label, though. I’d rather bookstores and airwaves be filled with tales of young women attempting to make it in the real world than jill-off fodder for housewives who get turned on by S&M Twilight fanfiction.


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