Infontalization: An Analysis of the Logos of Today’s Female-Driven Comedy Series
What’s in a font? Would that which we see in Helvetica by Times New Roman still look as sweet? There are three series in our current crop of TV comedies with titles containing the word “girl” – HBO’s Girls, CBS’s 2 Broke Girls, and New Girl, airing on FOX. Each one makes a cultural statement about the role of women in today’s society with the font it uses to render its logo.
It’s impossible to view the protagonists of this trio of female-led shows without considering their bodies. There is Girls creator and star Lena Dunham, who constantly insists on displaying her naked figure despite it not fitting conventional Hollywood beauty standards. And 2 Broke Girls’ Kat Dennings is defined as much by her ample curves as she is by her bright red pout and her tough-girl attitude. Then there’s Zooey Deschanel, small, preciously awkward and eminently cutesy, very much the quintessential “anti-sex sex symbol.” How interesting, then, that the two logos for the shows making nontraditional assertions about the female body are rendered in capital letters, while the show with the most submissive character uses lowercase lettering.
Perhaps the most salient takeaway of an analysis of these fonts is that New Girl uses the thinnest typeset among the three shows, reducing Zooey Deschanel’s svelte body to mere letters on a page. Girls’ font is of a medium thickness, with a good deal of spacing in between each of its letters that replicates the buffer of introspection that surrounds the character played by Lena Dunham — a woman who constantly wonders what it means to have the type of body she has grown up with. The word “girls” in the 2 Broke Girls logo is thick, bold and in-your-face, essentially asserting that Kat Dennings’ body is here to stay and you’re just going to have to deal with it.
This symbolism of this lettering is especially vivid in the varying depictions of the letter “R.” Both Girls and 2 Broke Girls give us a thick, round capital “R,” suggestive of womanly curves and a burgeoning maturity, while New Girl’s lowercase “R” is juvenile in shape and therefore somewhat naive – “girlish,” if you will.
And what of the serifs? What are the implications of the fact that in addition to capitalizing their logos, both Girls and 2 Broke Girls chose sans-serif fonts, while New Girl included those small tailing lines at the edges of its letters? Is this another statement about a woman’s need to decorate herself in today’s society?
At this juncture, it probably bears pointing out that the font used in the logo for Sex and the City, a show it’s impossible to avoid mentioning in this context of female-driven comedy series, has serifs. Girls and 2 Broke Girls are both set in New York City, like SatC before them. But the circumstances surrounding our new crop of young women are very different – instead of deciding which pair of Jimmy Choos best matches that new chiffon tutu, our modern New Yorkers struggle to pay their rent each month. By choosing sans-serif fonts, the two shows are announcing their departure from the “single girl in the city” fantasies Carrie and her gal pals lived out a decade ago. In fact, one can almost see the choice to create logos out of sans-serif fonts as a microcosm of the plight of young women in today’s down economy.
Gone are yesterday’s Gloucester MT Extra Condensed bodies. It’s time to accept a new generation of girls who look like Helvetica Bold.