It is the TV show that has taken the United States by storm this year, and now hit HBO comedy-drama Girls has finally made its way to British shores. (The featured image is by phvolmer.)
Billed as a Sex and the City for the credit crunch age, Girls charts the trials and tribulations of a close group of four 20-somethings living in New York.
While the dizzying heights of Manhattan was the setting for Carrie and friends’ glitzy lives, Hannah, Jessa, Marnie and Shoshanna live their lives in an altogether grittier part of the Big Apple.
Rather than upmarket Manhattan, it is Brooklyn that provides the backdrop to the four friends’ work, social lives, love lives and sex lives.
The show has been praised for its realistic portrayal of modern women, and modern society in general: struggling with money, taking any job going and relying on friends for support.
“Girls is the most honest portrayal of women I have ever seen on TV,” writer and presenter Dawn Porter wrote in the Radio Times.
“I don’t want to turn my back on SATC but it’s hard not to scoff at the ridiculous way that these women had to be glamorised, pruned to perfection, stylish beyond what most women could ever achieve and basically wrapped up in pretty paper to make what they were talking about palatable.”
Girls kicked off on Sky Atlantic last week, finally giving us a chance to see what all the fuss is about. So, to celebrate this momentous occasion, we thought we’d take a look at the other side of New York. Forget about Manhattan, what places should you visit to get the genuine Girls experience?
For those who have never been to New York, Brooklyn can conjure up images of dark streets and dangerous neighbourhoods.
However, it is one of the most vibrant and diverse boroughs in New York (Radegast Hall & Biergarten featured in
our Top 10 Biergarten), and is often viewed as a city in its own right by many residents.
Among other things, Brooklyn is known for its stunning architecture and the Brooklyn Bridge is a prime example of this.
No trip to New York would be complete without a walk across this iconic landmark, offering stunning views of the East River.
Much like Brixton or Shoreditch in London, many of Brooklyn’s neighbourhoods have seen a hipster invasion in recent years, turning them into painfully cool, bohemian havens.
One of the most exciting neighbourhoods is Williamsburg, a thriving area full of vintage clothes shops, arty cafes and not a hint of nearby Manhattan.
Williamsburg crops up a couple of times in Girls, as the location for some ultra-cool parties. But if you can’t find a party to crash, there are plenty of trendy bars and clubs to keep you going.
The largest population of Chinese people in the Western hemisphere, New York’s Chinatown is a must-visit on any trip to the city.
Located in the borough of Manhattan, you’ll struggle to find any semblance of upper class feel of nearby 5th Avenue here. Chinatown is pure culture, heritage and authenticity.
Packed full of hidden gems, from delicious street food to fine restaurant dining, you can easily get lost in Chinatown for a whole day – and it would almost certainly be an experience you wouldn’t forget.
New York’s Broadway is home to some of the best theatre productions in the world, probably only rivalled by London’s West End.
Yet, as with the West End, Broadway is expensive and in very high demand – so a trip off-Broadway is always a great alternative option.
Referring to venues with a seating capacity smaller than 500, off-Broadway shows give you all the fun of the theatre for an affordable price.
The shows can be fairly hit and miss, but take the plunge and pick something that takes your fancy. You never know, you might find a future hit in the making.
East River Park
It may be a thriving metropolis, but New York has more green space than you might think – and we don’t mean Central Park.
East River Park is a 57-acre green space along the banks of the East River, and is a hidden gem often forgotten by tourists.
Offering spectacular views across the river to Williamsburg Bridge and Manhattan Bridge, this well-maintained green space has cycling paths, sports facilities and playgrounds.
But the park’s big selling point is the amphitheatre, which regularly hosts gigs and theatre performances – many completely free-of-charge.