I have watched the HBO series, ‘Girls’, with admiration, horror, fascination and always alone (way too awkward to watch with anyone). I spent most of this week’s episode wondering how on earth Lena Dunham’s parents could possibly watch her on screen with Patrick Wilson.
The character that delights me most on the show is Shoshanna Shapiro, played by the incomparable Zosia Mamet. She is the classic example I refer to when prevailing upon presenters to kill the ‘uptalk’. Uptalk, known as HRT or high rising terminal, is the rising pitch and intonation that makes every sentence sound like a question and every utterance an uncertainty. “Like, you know what I mean?” It seems to strike teens and young women with a viral force.
You all know the undermining, credibility-sucking quality of this voice. In a professional presentation you may only use this voice in jest.
What makes it so delicious in ‘Girls’ is that Shoshanna has a profound, even melodic fluency in uptalk and the youthful slang that truncates word endings, like ‘fab’ and ‘perf’. She is like a creature from another world and I just can’t take my eyes off her when she is on the screen. The irony is that she is the most wholesome, grounded, clear-eyed and insightful of all the characters in the show, despite her insane style of speaking. Which I am sure is the point.
Here is a 53 second clip of “Shoshanna” in all her glory.