When Girls premiered in April, the HBO comedy's twenty-something female characters were heralded as generation-defining, and the show was quickly tagged as a younger, grittier Sex and the City. So it's somewhat surprising that a New York analysis reveals that the show's single largest viewer demographic is "white dudes over 50." (They make up 22 percent of the audience.) Beyond that, a full 56 percent of the show's "linear audience" — those who watch it either on HBO or through a DVR, but not online — is male. (By contrast, HBO's female-friendly True Blood has an audience that is 48 percent male.) Is Girls really a show for boys?
This makes sense: Of course, men like this show, says Cassie Murdoch at Jezebel. Much of the pre-debut buzz focused on the numerous sex scenes and creator-star Lena Dunham's frequent and unconventional nudity. Guys could be tuning in to see that. Or perhaps "they're sincerely interested in understanding more about the lives of this generation of wealthy white girls." Meanwhile, the twenty-something females we assume are watching are "too broke to afford HBO." They're probably just downloading the show illegally.
"Is Girls really a show for boys"
But why the old men? I can't see "why this show appeals to men over 50," says Jennifer Wright at The Gloss. It's too simplistic to chalk it up to the desire to see Dunham naked. Perhaps they feel superior to the pathetic young guys portrayed on the show? Or they're relieved that they don't have to endure those awkward sexual encounters anymore? "Do they feel like they could 'save' these women?"
"Guess who loves Girls?"
Plenty of girls are watching, too: Keep in mind that when Video on Demand viewers are taken into account, the results are a "complete reversal of the show's gender breakdown for linear viewing," says Josef Adalian at New York. A full 63 percent of viewers who watch Girls on demand are female. (That said, when both VOD and linear viewership are factored in, the show still has more male viewers.) Clearly, women are discovering the show, as expected, just in more tech-savvy, less traditional ways.
"More boys watch Girls than girls"
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