Desiree Akhavan was quickly dubbed the next Lena Dunham (a terrible insult that no one should be on the other side of) after appearing on Girls as one of Hannah's fellow students at the Iowa Writers Workshop. This was further solidified by the release of Appropriate Behavior, Akhavan's debut feature as both writer, director and actress.
And yes, while there are certain parables between Appropriate Behavior and Girls (chiefly the whole emphasis on North Brooklyn life and the failed relationships associated with it), it is very distinctly Akhavan's own, and, moreover, a far better effort than Dunham's first feature film, Tiny Furniture. Unlike the anti-heroine in the latter, Shirin (Akhavan) is someone whose sense of purposelessness stems from her recent heartbreak after being dumped by her girlfriend, Maxine (Rebecca Henderson), as opposed to the ennui of white privilege. As a bisexual Iranian, Akhavan's post-breakup situation is compounded by her parents, who not so secretly wish she could be as put-together as her older brother, Ali (Arian Moayed).
In addition to moving out of Maxine's apartment and into a proverbial overpriced shit hole in Bushwick (another thing in common with Girls is putting a false spin on the "roughness" of the area), Shirin tries to distract herself with a new job teaching film to what she presumes will be high school students, but actually turns out to be a group of Park Slope five-year-olds. In between this and stalking Maxine at lesbian-related events, Shirin also tries to go back to the straight route by meeting up with a guy from OKCupid who tells her: "I do a stand-up/folk music hybrid act." This is just one in a series of "job"-related comments that are too absurd to take seriously, as with Shirin's roommate remarking on her boyfriend, "He's working with sandcastles and incorporating found objects into them."
It seems Akhavan is even open to parodying her own character with statement's like, "The other day while I was smoking weed I had a really good idea for a children's book" and "Jon's known throughout Bushwick for his vogueing." Her quest to find some sort of fulfillment and happiness to substitute her longing for Maxine lands Shirin in the apartment of a bizarre couple that has one of the most awkward attempts at a threesome with her, maybe ever. As Shirin has previously noted earlier in the movie, she has a gift for boner-killing, and uses her judgmental stare on the male in the couple to make him as uncomfortable with performing as possible.
Although, like Dunham's Aura in Tiny Furniture, Shirin never quite "figures it out," there is a sudden contentment or, rather, complacency with not knowing if she's going to be okay or not. For the moment, the ability to see Maxine across a subway platform and not want to vomit or cry is sufficient enough for her.