That said, it's clearly for adults and decidedly not for the faint of heart.
At the close of the last episode of the first year, the lead character, Hannah, concerned that she might have contracted a sexually transmitted disease, is being examined by a woman who is a gynecologist.
Her friend Jessa says, it's just "something that happens to all sexually adventurous women."
As Hannah rambles on and on about possibly having been infected and considers the possibility of being HIV positive (the minuses and - gasp! - the pluses), the doctor shakes her head and says something like, "I wouldn't want to be twenty again if you paid me."
My thought exactly.
Watching Hannah and her friends Marnie, Jessa and Shoshonna try to navigate adult life is painful and embarrassing - sometimes because it calls up some of my own memories of being a twenty-something and other times because I would have never - EVER - gotten myself into those situations.
I was no saint and I'm hardly a prude, but this show is filled with explicit and, more often than not, unpleasant sexual encounters - often casual, other times obligatory and impersonal and sometimes even violent.
Specifically, Lena Dunham's nudity.
Look, it's HBO. If you've watched any one of their series, you know there's going to be a lot of sex and a lot of nudity.
If you don't want to see a lot of sex and nudity, don't tune in. You have been warned.
If you watch HBO's Game of Thrones, you know that there's so much gratuitous nudity and sex, the comedy writers of SNL have spoofed that one of the major consultants to the series is an over-sexed 13-year old boy who writes in "boobs" and "sex scene" into the script at least every sixty seconds.
The women on Game of Thrones, however, meet the physical standards of Playboy and Hustler. They are impossibly anatomically perfect.
Lena Dunham is not.
Unlike many women in the media spotlight - especially TV - Dunham is short and pear-shaped. She is the writer, producer, director of and actor in the series, so she could make herself look gorgeous, or use the other actors to do the heavy lifting in the nudity scenes.
Instead, Dunham films herself nude, with her skin breaking out, her belly in folds, chin doubled, or flat on her back with her feet in a gynecologist’s stirrups. These scenes shouldn’t shock, but, surprisingly enough, they do.
So many women in Hollywood seem to be so obsessed with Botox and plastic surgery, that women and men who watch "life on film" begin to believe that "altered" is the norm.
The message is that those of us who don't look like that should feel ashamed and inferior.
When a few people recently questioned her nudity, saying that they didn't "get it," Dunham responded, "I totally get it. If you’re not into me, that’s your problem and you’re going to have to work that out with professionals.”
I get the very clear sense that Dunham's nudity - which is random and frequent and clearly not meant to be salacious and titillate people - is her big middle finger to any attempt by anyone, male or female, to define or control her or her body.
There seems to be a lot of that going around.
A Beautiful Body" project.
It's a women's media platform which features a collective of photographers who are "dedicated to therapeutic truthful photos" - including moms with pregnancy stretch marks.
There's also Taryn Brumfitt's The Body Image Movement which addresses women's honest acceptance of their post-pregnancy bodies for the sake of their mental health as well as the future healthy attitudes of their daughters.
I have to give mention to Beth Whaanga's controversial photographs of her cancer scars. Beth Whaanga, a mother of four from Brisbane, Australia, found out just how radical and provocative an honest image of a woman can be after posting images on Facebook of her body following surgery for breast cancer late last year.
Taken by Nadia Masot, the pictures are astonishingly direct, documenting Whaanga's ongoing hair loss, total bilateral mastectomy, navel reconstruction and hysterectomy scar. Whaanga lost more than 100 friends on Facebook after posting the pictures – and then they went viral. A registered nurse, she describes herself as a "breast cancer preventer", and hopes to make people more aware of the physical changes that might signal a problem.
Her nude pictures of her surgically ravaged body - what's "under the little red dress" - convey a stunning message about the ways in which women are taking control of their own body images.
And, they don't look at all like the cover of People Magazine with Christie Brinkley at 60 - looking more like she's a 30 year old in a swimsuit.
For the past 15 years, NOW (National Organization of Women) has hosted a Love Your Body Day in October, whose goal it is to "Wipe out narrow beauty standards, superficial gender stereotypes and the portrayal of women as a sexual commodity to help erode sexism in other areas and advance our goal of full equality for all."
Last year, NOW published the results of their Love Your Body Day survey. I was especially interested in this question:
What would you most like to see change in relation to images of women and girls?
The answers seemed to provide the inspiration, at least in part, for Lena Dunham's nudity:
- More different body types of women and girls in the media - 9%
- More women of color in the media - 1%
- More women of all ages in the media - 3%
- More women who break the conventional mold of gender presentation - 4%
- More women with disabilities in the media - 0.5%
- No more images that exploit violence against women - 7%
- All of the above! - 73%
- Suggest your own - 2%
Ms. Dunham and her "girls" are decidedly white, middle class, affluent, privileged, and spoiled with a tendency to be self-destructive.
And, they don't apologize for any of it.
In one of early scenes of the debut episode of this series, Hannah is having an argument with her parents.
She simply doesn't understand why her parents are not on board with her request that they continue to support her for several more years so she can write a book.
"I don't want to freak you out," she said, "but I think I may be the voice of my generation."
Yes, it's self-absorbed. Yes, it's egocentric. And, as I recall, it's exactly what many 20-somethings of every generation think. It's part of the developmental process.
Oh, and it's funny. Very funny.
But, the nudity is different. It's raw. No illusions to traditional male sexual fantasy. No back lighting or candles. No sexy lingerie. It's real. It's brutally honest. It's shocking.
I think it's intended to be, but not for the typical, traditional understanding of shock value. It's not just nudity. It's the "in-your-face-I'm-far-from-perfect-*^@%-you" kind of nudity which, I think, carries a strong message about the issue of control over a woman's body.
"I get to say what I do with my body, even if it does tend to be self-destructive. This is what most real women look like when they take off their clothes."
"If you have a problem with that, get some professional help."
It's tremendously liberating and incredibly terrifying, all at the same time.
If the Republicans have a War On Women, this is one heck of a defense.
As a "woman of a certain age" I am appreciative of this new Body Politic, as parts of my body are, shall we say, less "perky" and "firm" than they once were.
Oh, someone is shaking his or her head and tut-tutting about how this country is going to hell in a hand basket and what do you expect when abortion is legal and . . . . .
I'm really not exactly sure what is going on here, but I do think Lena Dunham's nudity and the efforts of other feminists are part of a whole and I don't think it's as bad as some think it is.
I think every generation that begins to emerge into adulthood seems Really Bad to the previous generations of adults.
These are the next generation of women who were no doubt delivered by a woman obstetrician, cared for by a woman pediatrician, and saw women functioning as police, fire fighters, lawyers, judges, elementary and high school teachers, college professors, real estate professionals, priests, ministers, scientists, financial experts, talk show hosts, athletes, bus drivers, actors, poets, musicians, soldiers, veterans, disabled veterans, governors, representatives, senators, Secretary of State, and campaigning for President of the United States of America.
Oh, and wives and mothers.
That's something I did not grow up with and once thought I'd never see in my lifetime.
And, here we are.
All these women - but especially women in their 20s - have a very clear message about their bodies.
If the church is wise, it ought to sit up and pay attention.
What does the institutional church have to give to these young women, besides judgment and condemnation? Who will listen to them and walk with them as they make their way through the 'salad days' of their youth? Who will be there when they fall? Who will love them through to the other side of their experiments and mistakes and successes?
Who will help them make sense of it all?
If the church is not there for them when they fall - without saying, "See? I told you so," - why should they trust the church when they get back up on their feet again?
I'm glad these 20-somethings are figuring it out. Publicly and honestly. Boldly and fearlessly. Naked or fully clothed. Making mistakes along the way.
That's how they'll learn. That's how we all learned.
And, you know, you couldn't pay me to be 20-something again.
Naked or fully clothed.