Season 2 of Girls, the first line of Hannah Horvath’s forthcoming book of essays is revealed: “A friendship between college girls is grander and more dramatic than any romance.” It’s a great line, and while the series itself often leaned more heavily on the drama of friendship than its grandness, this certainly seemed to be Hannah’s perception of her own experience. However, the experience of engaging in a relationship with Girls for its five-year run might be defined as something closer to: “A relationship between viewer and creator can be more explosive and contentious than any actual enemy.” Like real relationships between college girls, watching all six seasons of Girls could be at times transcendent, very often mortifying, occasionally horrifying, and sometimes so funny you thought your face might split open from laughing. And as though this metaphorical college girl was coming off a three-day bender, it was impossible to know which one of those vibes you could expect from any given episode—which was, of course, part of the thrill.
Girls made plenty of missteps on its journey toward self-actualization, but the thing it got most right—the thing it got right from the very beginning—was the name. Simply: Girls. An economic use of a single word with a long history of conveying an immediate message: this movie or television series will be about girls (except that it will most likely be about women, and sometimes, a sexy, sexy Harrison Ford). In fact, there are so many intellectual properties featuring the word “girl” in the title that, should a blogger list them all out, it begins to seem like not a word at all. But rest assured, “girl” is a word, and while its frequent deployment in film and television doesn’t necessarily guarantee a quality end product, for many a title, it does just that.
So, in honor of the 10th anniversary of Girls’ premiere, I’ve dedicated myself to ranking the 24 most iconic “Girls” in popular culture. Now, I realize that “ranking girls” sounds like a pretty bad thing to do—but please understand I am not literally rating women or girls, merely the TV series and films they inhabit, specifically, any title that contains the word “girl” or “girls.”