Lena Dunham is all Brooklyn

STORY BY Artie Vincent

Published: April 8, 2013

Dunham grew up in the sleek area Brooklyn Heights, went to the neighborhood's top private school (St. Ann's) and recently bought a brownstone in Brooklyn Heights.  Yet the inspiration for her hit HBO show 'Girls' wasn't about making it in city but rather the struggle.

The truth is she struggled with OCD, self-importance and relationships -- and I mean lots of relationships led with a fear of love and sex. And for a generation living in recession-era America, Dunham presented a raw and innovative voice for her demographic: it's not easy after you graduate college.

Yet it seems like her "voice" has had an opposite effect. 

Everyone is clamoring to live in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, where the show is shot on location. In the last year and half since the show has premiered, there's a distinct boom in real estate -- specifically in rentals -- all over Brooklyn. 

Of course Williamsburg remains a haven for college students. But its once poverty-stricken area's like Bushwick, Bed Stuy, Crown Heights and even parts of Greenpoint have miraculously turned into hotbeds for college students and recent graduates. 

Population has risen tremendously in Brooklyn in the last year, and rent costs have sky-rocketed as a result. For example, a one bed-room in Crown Heights could typically be had for $1,600-$1,800 in 2012. Those same units area going for $2,500. Even more striking, the amount of guarantors used for apartments have scaled up because the majority of graduates are jobless.

They want to struggle like Dunham once did, and experience a life she once had.

The "Girls" experience is not only a pop culture phenomenon but a lifestyle. The average out-of-towners now travel to Brooklyn (not Manhattan) in hopes to eating at restaurants on the show -- i.e., Roberta's and Cafe Grumpy (located at 193 Meserole in Greenpoint).

Fans of the breakout series have set up online maps to track down where the show is filmed and set up tours of locations. A growth of underground graffiti art shows and parties (shown in season one of the series) has doubled. 

The show also inspired a spin-off of sorts with the YouTube hit web series "Bros". The show satirically tracks the daily life of four guys struggling to live in Brooklyn. 

In retrospect, "Girls" has the same cultural affect like two former HBO hits: "The Sopranos" and "Sex and The City". 

Still, Dunham's world isn't close to that of "Sex and the City".  In fact, it is the anti-Sex and the City because, in reality, it's hard to live in the Big City. A chunk of the situations on the show, though comical, did really happen to Dunham.  Each of the characters represent a certain time of Dunham's life.

In the end, all that Dunham, who recently signed $3.5 million book deal, wants is people to feel emotion of her show's themes -- either be it comedic or raw. She has given Brooklyn a rebirth and generation some hope. 

Other Stories by Artie Vincent
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