The Girls Backlash: Fair or Foul?
The voice of a generation doesn't try to speak for everyone.
As an admitted fan of Lena Dunham's fearless brand of self-deprecating humor, I've been shocked and flat-out annoyed that the backlash and criticisms hurled at her new show Girls has overtaken news of on-going praise and fan fervor. I will admit that the show's casting is a missed opportunity as far as creating a more diverse portrayal of New York. Still, I'd argue that most of the conflict -- and humor -- surrounding Girls' central anti-heroine Hanna stems from being stuck in the confines of her own little world. Dunham addressed this criticism with incredible poise and frankness, telling Fresh Air:
"I really wrote the show from a gut-level place, and each character was a piece of me or based on someone close to me. And only later did I realize that it was four white girls... but I did write something that was super-specific to my experience, and I always want to avoid rendering an experience I can't speak to accurately."
The under-fire and fast-maturing writer has said she'd open up the world of Girls in the second season. Already in the first week of production it seems she is delivering on that promise, casting Donald Glover, possibly as a love interest of Hanna's? (At this point that's wishful speculation, but how great would that be?)
Ultimately, it seems Girls was attacked because HBO promised it would be the next big thing, and it wasn't everything to everyone. What's shocking is that the privilege and diversity criticisms were never so severe for the show's most obvious antecedent, Sex & The City. The NYC Dunham displays is far more realistic than SATC, and yet she's dinged as a twenty-something for not representing everyone's experience in New York. Girls will continue to draw a heady mix of outcry and praise because Dunham is presenting something fresh and sometimes frightening to TV audiences.
Dunham's characters are twenty-something women who are sexual, but not sex objects. They're quirky but not "adorkable;" hell, sometimes they are downright unlikeable. These are not things we typically allow in our TV heroines, but Dunham and her sharply funny and daring co-stars are tackling taboos week after week without drawing attention to their revolutionary approach. This will keep Girls in the conversation long after we've forgotten whose dad was in what band and why people were virtually shouting at a remarkably talented and ambitious 26-year-old triple threat.
|Girls clip "Obvi! We're the ladies."|